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N-SSA Western Region

The Cannoneer Dec 1st 2020


Intro from the Commander


I realize that there are still a lot of unknowns facing us from many directions but I do have hope that we will be able to gather on the firing line next spring. The truth is that life going forward will be different from yesterday, skirmishes of tomorrow will be decidedly different from those in the past. I foresee future changes or additions to range or shooting rules. We will not be free of masks and social distancing will continue to be a phrase we will need to contend with. But I believe we will be breaking targets one way or another.


I would like to thank all of those that have rejoined with the knowledge of the above. A few members have decided to wait or change their membership status until the future is a little clearer. I understand this and look forward to seeing them in the near future. If you have not sent in your dues and forms directly to Bob they will have to print out the forms from the N-SSA website, fill them out and send it to Bob. Remember you will also need to send in the Battery dues and the Western Region dues. Contact me if you have questions.


So what is our next step? The plan is to continue to be prepared. We need to make plans for our Sandy Ford Skirmish on the last weekend in June. We need to be prepared for the Spring Zerko Relic Show. We need to be prepared for any possible displays or events that were canceled in 2020. The trick will be to invest the right amount of time and effort to succeed but not too much that it is painful if canceled.


If you need to make plans now or would like to have an idea of when events may be happening, you can get an idea by looking at last year’s dates. Many of the events happen around the same time. That is the rule of thumb but do not put money on it.


Sandy Ford Memorial Skirmish - June 25,26,and 27th.


We have most of the supplies needed for this skirmish on hand. We held a work party to clean up and take inventory of the targets and materials this last June. We created a second set of frames to be used at the Beloit Skirmish held by the 46th Illinois. Most of the shared equipment used at Beloit was returned to Sandy Ford where it will stay until the construction of a storage shed at Beloit. What is needed is confirmation by the Sandy Ford Executive Board of the date of the skirmish and the amount of the range fee. Last year the fee was to be $400 or $450. With the newer $10 standard cost per skirmisher per event rule, that means we need 45 shooters, or a total of 9 – five member teams. We have been averaging 15 – five member teams. Then when you add in Smoothbore teams and possible Breech-loader teams, the odds of us making a profit are very good. I have always said we hold these skirmishes not to make money but to forward our sport. This means I would rather see better attendance in lieu of greater profit. I am not opposed to offering incentives or discounts to ensure more skirmishers. So stop and think about what would make you more willing to attend a skirmish and share them. I am thinking again of a free lunch on Saturday and a possible free inexpensive dinner. Or how about instead of individual metals, we offer a small cash prize. Again these are thoughts and will be open for discussion.


As for the other Western Region skirmishes, there have been no word as to the proposed dates. We expect them to be around the same weekends as in the past. The dates for the 2021 National Skirmishes are set. Spring Nationals is scheduled for May 22, 23, and 24th and Fall Nationals are set for October 1,2, and 3rd. These dates are set by the rules of the N-SSA. We again are facing the chance of these events being canceled due to the Covid-19 virus, but what else is new.


A second question to be put forth for discussion is the following. When a person joins the Battery, they are brought in at the level of a “recruit”. A “recruit” has the right to attend events but they cannot hold office or vote on matters. After their first year, a “recruit” can put in writing a request to become a “volunteer”. Only “volunteers” can hold office and vote on matters. The question being discussed is if a volunteer does not rejoin for a year or more and decides to rejoin, do they come back as a recruit or a volunteer? The Board has been discussing this and may come up with a ruling or protocol that will need to be discussed and agreed on.  


Many of the members seemed to have kept busy over this summer. Some of us took care of personal business. Others worked on perfecting their shooting skills. Out of curiosity I tried to figure out how much one round of ammunition costs for each of my firearms. I took into consideration the powder, lead, and cap. Sort of surprising was the result that smoothbore costs the most at about 45 cents per round. This is mainly due to the amount of powder we use to send the bullet down range. The average for all 4 larger guns is 35 cents. So I spend about $100 to shoot at a Nationals. And I forgot about figuring out my revolver. So I guess I saved money by not shooting this year. Except that I did go out to Virginia this fall.

2020 Faux Nationals Report

With the advance notice of the cancellation of the 143rd National Skirmish, the Commander had time to think and plan. Originally the Battery was scheduled to host in October. The result would have been the lack of the normal cargo and only the necessary clothing and supplies. This also would mean room for a few extras. The cancellation would not change the overall plan. In addition, the Commander was notified that he would not be the only one attending the lost opportunity. And the Commander would not be the only one from his unit. Hearing of the Commander’s plan, Stan would also attend the non-happening skirmish. The Commander, Stan and Deirdre were able to attend the 2020 Faux Nationals. Stan arrived early to clean up the campground. He was out there early to remove a tree that fell on Mazur’s trailer giving the Battery a good amount of free firewood.

On Friday, both the Commander and Stan slept in until about 9 AM. Normally on a the Friday of a National Skirmish they would have had to been down to the revolver range by 7:30 for setup and started shooting team events at 8:00. The commander made breakfast and then sat around the camp until about 10:30. Having brought his musket and ammo he made for a regional skirmish he could not attend, the Commander and Stan headed down to the range to make some smoke and noise. They were not alone. There were about 50 people occupying positions 10 through 25. Later it was found out that for a $15 donation you and two others could have bought a box of target materials that included cardboard and wire. You could have hung targets for four events on two frames and held your own mock team event.


The Commander and Stan had brought their own targets which include clay birds, 4X4 tile, pot silhouettes, computer hard drives and moskeets. Being that neither had shot their muskets for a long time they did not expect to do well. But it was just like falling off a bike. Both quickly found their sight picture and soon were sending clay shards flying in many directions. Soon a little competition developed. It ended with Stan hitting the remaining part of a tile only to be followed up by the Commander hitting an even smaller fragment of tile. Stan gave a nod to the Commander and then both headed up to camp.


During all this time, Deidre was methodically working on a larger than life brush pile left from the Mazur Tree. By time Stan and the Commander made it back at 3 PM she had a great bed of coals for cooking. The Commander then cooked some walleye fillets, potatoes with onions, and baked beans over the stove being the fire may have been too hot. Then they sat back and relaxed until it was decided that ice cream would top such a day off. Stan stayed behind to watch the fire and detoxify the whiskey he had sampled. Not to worry, the Commander and Deirdre did bring him back some.

Saturday was again another beautiful day. In fact the entire time out there witnessed the most perfect weather seen in over a decade. Stan made some bacon and pancakes without rice. Then back down to the range for some more musket shooting. Stan also had his smoothbore this time. They again tested their marksmanship and the durability of several computer hard drives. One was especially tough, not allowing a 69 caliber or an original style musket bullet through its aluminum case. There was another opportunity to purchase target materials and hang them up in a skirmish style event. But again Stan and the Commander were content to shoot at what they had. Only two moskeets survived the ordeal. Afterwards, they visited the Gainesboro people working the concession stand which was open. The Commander and Deirdre returned for lunch but did not spoil their appetite for the beef stew that Stan was making over the open fire that Deirdre continued to feed. Stan’s Wife Margaret joined the trio for dinner and left prior to the setting sun.

Sunday began like the other two days. Stan made cheese omelets to go with the homemade bread from the night before and more bacon. Instead of firing the shoulder arms, Stan and the Commander took the mortar down to the far left end of the range. They fired the seven rounds and packed everything up for the year.

Other highlights of the Faux Nationals were the buying of powder for those that could not make it, the night sky observations of the International Space Station, the rings of Saturn, and four of Jupiter’s moons, and the observation of the wildlife of the Fort. Later Deirdre and the Commander extracted about 30 pounds of lead from the backstop for JT to render into ingots when he goes out to the Fort next May. And apples, they bought apples for themselves as well as for JT.

The Commander and Deirdre traveled a little more as usual. They tried to stop at Harpers Ferry but it was too crowded and there was no parking. Sharpsburg was better and a lot less people. The museum is being renovated and hope that when it opens, it will be worth the stop. Gettysburg was visited again with Stan and Margaret. They drove the battlefield and stopped at several key spots. The Commander and Deirdre drove to Harrisburg to the National Civil War Museum. It was good but not worth the drive. The Gettysburg museum is just as good if not better. Disappointment of the museum was the discovery of many errors in the graphics. There were misspelled words and errors that should have been caught in the editing process. There was one graphic stating there was a fort on the Mississippi River, 70 miles south of New Orleans. The museum was built in a nice park with a good view but it is surrounded by what seemed a highly depressed area of the city.


After Harrisburg, the Commander and Deirdre returned to Gettysburg for dinner and walked around until night fall. They decided to try on of the famous Gettysburg Ghost tours. It turned out to be one of the worse ghost tours they were on. At least they were able to help the local economy. Many places were open but you could tell they were hurting. Hopefully when the pandemic runs its course, places will still be open and ready to go.

The Commander was able to do something he always wanted to do and that is canoe down part of the Potomac River. The River was very low and Stan had a canoe with a minor leak. The Commander was impressed by the depth and clarity of the water. They saw several bald eagles and other wildlife. The Commander wished he had a fishing pole but he gets that way whenever he is by any body of water.

This report should also be a reminder to all the members that Fort Shenandoah is open to our use all year round. Rules state that you can camp there up to 30 straight days. But plan appropriately for during the cold winter months the water is turned off in the bathrooms. 

Battery H

1st ILL Light Artillery

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