Muzzleloaders have come a long way since the days of Davy Crockett. They are easier to learn and to shoot than they ever have been. This is getting a lot of new people into muzzleloading. Chad Schearer from CVA Muzzleloaders and the TV show, Shoot Straight With Chad Schearer, recently joined ForemostHunting.com’s Chris Larsen to discuss getting started with muzzleloaders.
Schearer says people are hunting with muzzleloaders for a multitude of reasons, most notably, more hunting opportunity. “It allows you to spend more days in the field, that is a major bonus. Some of the other things are, for example if you draw a special tag in Colorado you can hunt elk during the rut with a muzzleloader. Most guys can only experience that with a bow… Even during firearm season, I use my muzzleloader because I enjoy the one shot challenge.”
How to Choose a Muzzleloader
Getting started in muzzleloading can be daunting. But Schearer says it looks more complicated than it really is. “If you look at the caplocks and flintlocks, they can be somewhat intimidating simply because it just looks like there is a lot more to it. Today’s modern muzzleloaders have a break action… it makes it very simple. There is just three things that you need. You’re going to need powder, a primer, and a bullet… Today’s powder comes pre-measured so you can get them in 50 grain increments.”
When buying a muzzleloader, Schearer says there is a few things you need to consider. “First, you want to look at your price range, what you can afford. The thing I love about muzzleloading is you can get into it very affordably. For example, for $200 you can buy a CVA Wolf that allows you to get into the game. Or all the way up to a muzzleloader that runs about $500.
When you’re looking at a muzzleloader, I recommend you check out what the rules and regulations are for the state you’re going to hunt. In certain states, I’ll use Colorado for example, you have to use loose powder during the season and open sights. If you go into some place like Oregon or Washington, it’s going to have to have an exposed breech plug.”
Schearer says learning to shoot a muzzleloader effectively isn’t any different than shooting a centerfire rifle. “You start out at 25 or 50 yards and make sure you’re on paper. Then move out to one hundred yards and sight it in. I would say within a half hour to an hour of range time you’re going to be ready to deer hunt with that gun.”
In the old days of muzzleloading, the only way to unload your muzzleloader was to fire it. Modern break barrel muzzleloaders have revolutionized the sport. Pulling the trigger is no longer needed to unload a muzzleloader. “You don’t even need tools. You remove the breech plug. Then you take your ramrod and just push the load through. So you don’t have to fire it, especially if you’re in a hunting camp situation that is close to the area where you are hunting and you don’t want to shoot your guns in that area.”
Hunting With a Muzzleloader
When hunting with muzzleloaders, there are some strategy considerations to think about. Range is limited compared to a centerfire rifle and you’re generally only going to have one shot. These limitations are what fuel many muzzleloader hunters including Schearer. “With today’s centerfire rifles you can reach out there and shoot three or four hundred yards, even five hundred yards. With a muzzleloader you’re limited to two hundred yards or less. If you’re shooting a standard one hundred grain charge you’re at 150 consistently.”