FULTON — When most people think of muzzle-loaded guns, they think of muskets. When the Show-Me State Games present muzzle-loaded guns, it means competition.
The crack of gunfire and the smell of gunpowder filled the air Saturday at the Owl Creek Gun Club as shooters fired at targets up to 100 yards away and reloaded.
A muzzle-loaded gun must be reloaded from the front of the barrel, just like how soldiers operated them in the American Revolution and the Civil War.
But this was a battle in a much different sense.
Competitors — using rifles and pistols — shot at targets for points. The shooters were scored based on their accuracy, earning more points the closer they shot to the center.
John McCray, commissioner for Show-Me State Games Muzzle Loading Rifle, said the scoring would be complete Sunday.
McCray estimated that about 15 people showed up to compete at Saturday's competition. Of those 15, three hold Show-Me State Games records in muzzle-loading shooting, he said.
Byron Bailey holds the record for pistol division with 270 points, including two bull's-eyes. Jerry Schulze holds the record for hunter division with 178 points, and his daughter Sara Schulze holds the record for women's percussion open division with 159. All were in attendance for Saturday's competition.
Jerry Schulze also competed on the United States International Muzzle Loading Team in two world championships. In 2008, he won a bronze medal when he competed in Australia. In 2012, he did the same thing in Germany.
Bailey had something special at the competition: a left-handed Yazel pistol, which he said was one of only 20 in the world.
At noon, the sun shined down. As the competitors talked with one another, the general consensus was relief that the temperature was not in the triple digits like it had been in past years.
As Jerry Schulze lined up to make a 50-yard shot, he aimed his rifle, steadied his arm and pulled the trigger. As the bullet exploded out, a colossal doughnut of gunsmoke billowed from the barrel of his gun and dissipated in the breeze.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig.