Flintlock Tips to Consider
Inside the Outdoors, December
14, 2012

Those gearing up for flintlock season beginning Dec. 26 and ending Jan. 13, 2013, should be considering purchasing or preparing their guns now for the two-week season that just may prove most worthwhile and exciting. Instead of a rifle with accompanying bullets, this gun our ancestors used to fall animals is a bit more complex.

There are seven parts to this rifle. Briefly detailed, its user must be fully acquainted with each component and how each is related in order for the weapon to fire properly. According to the website: science.howstuffworks.com,“There is the hammer, which holds and accelerates a piece of flint; the mainsprings, which powers the hammer; the frizzen, which is the piece of steel the flint strikes; the pan, which is the place where quantity of gunpowder waits to receive the sparks; the tumbler, which holds and releases the power of the mainspring and transmits it to the hammer; the sear and sear spring, which engages the tumbler and releases it when someone pulls the trigger; and the frizzen spring, which holds the cover attached to the frizzen over the pan to make the flintlock waterproof. The basic goal of the flintlock is simple: to create a spark that can light the gunpowder stored in the barrel of the gun discharging a steel ball.”

From www.sportsmansguide.com, we read, “Not only does the gun have to function, but the user of the flintlock has to do his or her part, too. Through all of this process, he has to not flinch in anticipation of the forthcoming eruption sparks and flame two inches from his nose, hold the gun on target should the ignition be delayed. All of this assumes that the gun has been kept clean and dry throughout the hunt, the flint is still firmly held in the cock and that the pan is appropriately primed with the proper amount and grade of powder, and that the powder is situated in the proper part of the pan.” Got the picture? Not a simple task at all.

This same website offers tips from an article written by William Hovey Smith titled “Twenty Steps to Flintlock Success.” Listed below are some of those:

  • Purchase quality, a gun as good as one can afford;
  • Test the lock for a strong mainspring;
  • Trim the flint to proper length to fit square to the face of the frizzen;
  • Always hunt with a new flint;
  • When tightening a flint, take up the slack to firm everything up;
  • Carry the gun with the frizzen back and the hammer down in the pan to prevent unintentional discharges;
  • Prime the gun when safely at the stand position or immediately before a shot;
  • Experiment with different amounts of powder;
  • Use a prick to make sure that the touchhole is open;
  • Select a heavy barreled gun for one’s flintlock;
  • And, shoot from a solid rest or from the most stable position.

Gun dealers will aid in one’s understanding of using flintlock weapons also for the non-experienced.


For those planning ahead for 2013, Forbes Trail Chapter Trout Unlimited recently announced the date of its 40th Anniversary Banquet, to be held March 2. To learn more about it or volunteer one’s time to help out, plan on visiting this month’s meeting to be held Wednesday, Dec. 19 at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve right off St. Rt. 981 opposite the Dairy Queen. The meeting will commence promptly at 7 p.m. in the basement of the barn. Tickets for the banquet will go on sale in January. Hope to see you there.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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