Cascade Mountain Men Brings 18th Century Firearms and Period Goods to Exhibit Center
History, art and – perhaps most excitingly – vintage firearms and other colonial American weapons and goods will be on display and sold at the Enumclaw Expo Center this weekend.
The two-day event is hosted by The Cascade Mountain Men, a traditional black powder muzzleloading club based in Issaquah.
According to Steve Baima, now a full member but the club’s secretary for a decade, their group is the second-oldest in Washington and their annual show is the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi.
“It’s the mother of all trade shows for muzzleloading firearms and people who love rendezvous-style re-enactment or re-enactment of colonial America,” he said.
For those unfamiliar with black powder muzzleloaders, these firearms required a measured amount of black powder to be poured into the barrel before inserting a projectile, be it a a ball (bullet) or a shot; rifles and shotguns in particular needed wadding between the black powder and the projectile and a ramrod to press the contents firmly into the barrel. Pistols, on the other hand, needed no padding and just required a loading lever to pack the powder and projectile together before firing.
These firearms were used between the 1400s and 1850s, when firearms began to use black powder in self-contained cartridges.
Today, people continue to use muzzle-loading firearms for competitions and even hunting (the State Department of Fish and Wildlife allows the use of these weapons during the season deer and elk hunting).
But for Baima, these firearms are more than just rifles; it’s art.
In colonial times, he said, American farmers needed additional sources of income during the winter season and turned to manufacturing muzzleloading firearms to sell. To make their guns more attractive to buyers, these farmers often embellished their pieces with woodcarvings or metal engravings, stylized by their country of origin.
Many muzzleloaders like Baima continue this tradition of handcrafting their firearms with a forge and anvil and adding their own ornaments; he’s been building his own weapons for 15 years, though he draws on skills he’s accumulated over seven decades.
And it’s not just the forging and decorations that Baima considers art, but also the actual use of the firearm.
“I have been a hunter and shooter all my life. There was a time when I shot military rifle and pistol teams. And the process of shooting a modern firearm, in my opinion, is getting boring, because you do the same thing over and over,” he said. “When I was introduced to muzzleloading, there are so many more variables in the equation, it became fun again. ”
For example, muzzleloaders must consider weather, wind speed, humidity, projectile size – variables that modern firearms users may take more for granted.
“All of these issues go into the matrix that determines accuracy. You could have a very accurate gun today – tomorrow when you go back to the range you’ll be wondering, ‘Have I ever shot this gun in the past? Because environmental conditions can alter that,” he said, adding that because using a muzzleloader can be so difficult, shooting well comes with a sense of pride.
“The reward comes from the finished product. And having something that you can take into the field and hunt with, or take into the field and compete with, and still be very, very precise in its function,” Baima said. “It’s a reward.”
But those skills, he continued, get lost over time — hence the annual Cascade Mountain Men’s Muzzle-Loading Arms Show.
Many of the people who attend the exhibition are part of a core group of people already steeped in the culture, from weapon builders like Baima to those who participate in the summer “rendezvous”, where attendees go up to to build an American colonial-style camp. – with vintage camping gear – to trade various goods and participate in shooting, knife or tomahawk throwing and cooking contests.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something for the general public. The event requires vendors to dress in Colonial American clothing (just ignore goggles and modern shoes, Baima said), and beyond muzzleloaders and gun construction kits, there will also be various leather and fur goods, period clothing and camping gear. , Native American crafts and other items for sale at the exhibit.
Baima added that there will be various live demonstrations, such as how to engrave your gun, make your own bone choker and even how to start a fire, either with flint and steel or with sticks. and string.
“Believe me, a flint and steel is much easier to use,” he laughed.
The exhibit opens Saturday, March 12 at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Doors also open at 9 a.m. on March 13, but close at 3 p.m.
Admission is $10 per day, although children 12 and under can attend for free. anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information on the exhibit, visit www.cascademountainmen.com.
If you can’t attend the exhibit, there are other ways to introduce yourself to muzzleloading firearms and the associated historical culture.
For those who want to learn how to shoot a muzzleloader, Cascade Mountain Men meet at the Issaquah Sportsman Cub every third Sunday at noon.
“If anyone wants to come out and watch us, or if they would like to experience shooting a flintlock or hooded gun with black powder, they can do that,” Baima said. “We will invite them to the firing line.”
Baima also suggests checking out the Washington State Historical Firearms Guild, another group that aims to keep 18th-century arts and lifestyle alive in the modern era.
The group helps everyone learn how to build their own muzzleloader, whether from a kit or from scratch (Baima recommends beginners use kits at first, as many are intimidated by the skills you need to learn to build one yourself), and other items.
“If you want to build a powder horn, we’ll teach you how. If you want to build a leather bag to carry all your miscellaneous items, we can teach you how to do that… If you wanted to build a knife, we can also teach you how to do that,” Baima said.
The guild does not have a website, but you can contact them through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Washington-Historical-Gunmakers-Guild-185598634862455/?ref=page_internal.