U.S. Dominates Pacific Zone International Competition
It was HOT. The humidity hung in the air so thick you could have seen it were it not for the sweat that rolled off your forehead and onto shooting glasses. It was Virginia in August.
The Fairfax Rod & Gun Club in Manassas, VA was the site of the 2019 combined championships of the Canadian and American (Can/Am) international muzzle loading teams and the Pacific Zone Championship of the Muzzle Loading Associations International Confederation (MLAIC), July 29 – August 2, 2019.
These matches are for matchlock, flintlock and percussion muzzle loading pistols, smoothbore and rifled long arms and shotguns. Only black powder and lead ball or conical shot are allowed. Originals and reproductions compete in their own classes. The Short-Range Division uses the 25 and 50 meter B17 international target for all matches including 100 meter events for rifled long guns. The international clay bird is used for shotgun events. (The Long-Range Division shoots its own matches from 200 to 900 meters (980 yards) except in the U.S. where they are shot from 200 to 1,000 yards.)
The MLAIC Pacific Zone includes eight countries; the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Venezuela and South Africa. Conducted as a postal match, results are sent to a coordinator in South Africa for official recording and posting. Japan and Venezuela did not participate in this year’s match. World-wide there are 29 member and five affiliated countries in the MLAIC. The remaining member states are in the European Zone.
So, how did the U.S. Team do?
There were 36 different matches for both for pistol, long guns and shot guns. Different matches had different numbers of participants:
USA, 18 gold, 21 silver, and 11 bronze medals. Total 50*
Australia, 8 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze. Total 12**
Canada, 4 gold, 2 silver, and 5 bronze. Total 11*
Argentina, 1 gold, 4 silver, 5 bronze medals. 10**
South Africa, 4 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze. Total 7**
New Zealand, 1 gold, Total 1**
*Shot in USA, **Shot in home country
While these results indicate that the U.S. is clearly dominant in the Pacific Zone, it does not mean we are dominant in World Competition. In the world matches the Europeans clearly hold sway. Germany does far better than most. Other significant competitors include Great Britain, France, Austria and Spain.
Despite the fact that America produces many shooters whose skills are competitive with the best of Europe, we simply need to get them on our team. We have the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, the North-South Skirmish Association, and hundreds of local muzzle loading clubs across the country. Virtually all USIMLT members are also members of one or more of the above. This author has been on the firing lines at the NMLRA and the N-SSA national’s events. The talent at these matches is only exceeded by their sheer numbers. The trick is to recruit some of these organizations’ members to also shoot in international competition. Not easy. Overseas travel is involved, not to mention that younger shooters have work and family life competing for their time. Nevertheless, the USIMLT is eager to enlist and support new members.