Many Marksmen Treasure Early Examples of Percussion Firearms
Byline: By GLYNN COOK
Last weekend, a few of my shooting friends and I gathered at the farm that is my local shoot to spend a couple of hours trying to hit some clay pigeons.
This was both a social event and an opportunity to maintain and improve our marksmanship for the next shooting season. There was, of course, plenty of comment when clays were missed and over-enthusiastic cheering when they were hit.
All of us were using modern 12-bore breech-loading shotguns, either side-by-side or over-and-under barrel formation and, purely for the sake of interest, I had taken along a much larger single barrel 8-bore and a much smaller bolt- action .410 shotgun. I am pleased to say that clays were hit with all of them, by some of us.
After clearing up and taking away the spent cases, it occurred to me how simple it had been to be able to open a box of cartridges and in one action, load the gun with a single item containing the ignition device, the propellant powder, the wadding and the lead shot charge, and that led me to reflect on the long history of shooting sports.
The modern cartridge and breech-loading shotgun is far removed from the percussion system of the muzzle-loader of the early 1800's, which in turn had superseded the perfected flintlock and before it, the matchlock.
All of these early systems required that the propellant powder, the wadding and the lead shot load should be poured down the muzzle end of the firearm before the ignition system of either a live match, spark from a flint or the detonation of a percussion cap was set off by pulling the trigger. …