Fouling Shots?

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Geezer Ray

Senior Member
I have only been shooting Flinters and muskets for a little under two years now and have a question for the experts here. I have been told by the 75 year young fellow who has been showing me the ins and outs of traditional shooting that some competition shooters always use a fouling shot before shooting. Does anyone here know about or have an opinion on this? What about before a hunt?
 
I don't have a flintlock but on my percussion guns I always fire one fouling shot the evening before the season opener. I then reload and double up a lubed patch and use it to seal off the nipple under the hammer. If I do not get the shot that I want I will leave that load in for the week uncapping and sealing off the nipple under the hammer when I am not on the hunt.
 

Nicodemus

FREELANCE ADMINISTRATOR
Staff member
Before daylight on the morning of my hunt, I`ll swab the barrel good with several dry patches, and on my flintlock, I`ll prime the pan and trigger the rifle to burn the oil out of the flash hole. Then I`ll load. On my percussion rifle I`ll swab the barrel the same way, and pop a few caps to burn the oil out of the nipple. I`ll put the end of the barrel close to a leaf or blade of grass and watch for it to move when I pop the cap to make sure the nipple is clear. Then I`ll load it.
 

NCHillbilly

Administrator
What Nic said. No fouling shot for me. There's a big difference in competition shooting and hunting. You can get a good bit of rust and crud buildup in a day of hunting with a fouled barrel.
 
I aint no expert, but 3 or 4 caps before a hunt is enough fouling for my side hammer. The one time I didn't , I snapped a cap on a buck 80 yards from the truck. If you use bore butter and let it set in your gun as a lube, you better bust a cap or two,
 

Darkhorse

Senior Member
When I was shooting a caplock I did exactly what Nic said, everytime I went to shoot.
But I don't do that with my flintlocks, especially when loading up for hunting where it might be several days or weeks before a shot is fired. I don't want any fouling in the bore or on the lock. I run a couple of dry patches through the bore, followed by a patch soaked in alcohol. Then I plug the vent with a toothpick and trickle a small amount of alcohol down the bore and slosh it around. I'm trying to wash the inside of the liner and any crevices in the breech. Then turning the rifle lock side up I pull the toothpick and place a rolled up paper towel in the pan right against the vent, then press the frizzen down tight against it. Then I run a patch rapidly down the bore a few passes. This will force the remaining alcohol out the vent. I set it aside to dry a few minutes before loading.
I also pull the lock and wipe off any excess oil that might be on the bolster or the internals. So none might find it's way to the pan. Then I wipe the vent, pan, flint and the frizzen face and underside with a alcohol wipe.
Now all the oil is gone and I'm ready to load a hunting round.
 

Nicodemus

FREELANCE ADMINISTRATOR
Staff member
When I was shooting a caplock I did exactly what Nic said, everytime I went to shoot.
But I don't do that with my flintlocks, especially when loading up for hunting where it might be several days or weeks before a shot is fired. I don't want any fouling in the bore or on the lock. I run a couple of dry patches through the bore, followed by a patch soaked in alcohol. Then I plug the vent with a toothpick and trickle a small amount of alcohol down the bore and slosh it around. I'm trying to wash the inside of the liner and any crevices in the breech. Then turning the rifle lock side up I pull the toothpick and place a rolled up paper towel in the pan right against the vent, then press the frizzen down tight against it. Then I run a patch rapidly down the bore a few passes. This will force the remaining alcohol out the vent. I set it aside to dry a few minutes before loading.
I also pull the lock and wipe off any excess oil that might be on the bolster or the internals. So none might find it's way to the pan. Then I wipe the vent, pan, flint and the frizzen face and underside with a alcohol wipe.
Now all the oil is gone and I'm ready to load a hunting round.

I like that practice, and will start doing that with my flintlock. Thank you for posting this.
 
Y'all might have just talked me out of the fouling shot.

Popping a cap before loading is something I have always done if the rifle hasn't been shot that day.
 

NCHillbilly

Administrator
Y'all might have just talked me out of the fouling shot.

Popping a cap before loading is something I have always done if the rifle hasn't been shot that day.
The explosive in a cap isn't corrosive like black powder, or at least isn't enough volume to make much difference. Sometimes I might load a rifle and not shoot it for a week or a month or six months. That don't work if you fire a fouling shot. That fouling shot is likely to corrode and gum up your touchhole, bolster, nipple, or whatever after a day or two. A couple times, I've picked up a muzzleloader that was loaded 10 months before, put a cap or priming charge in it, and it goes right off.
 
No fouling shot for me. With my Hawkens I will swap it with a dry patch or two then snap a cap or two, then load.

I'll take Darkhorse's regimen this fall with my flinter. Finally got it sighted in such that I can hit the 8 inch gong at 100 yards 2 weeks ago. Still need more practice with it though to be comfortable at that range.
 

SASS249

Senior Member
I have read this with interest. Lots of target shooters will fire a fouling shot. While it may make no difference in hunting, it can be an issue when shooting a match. SOME rifles shoot to to slightly different point of aim out of a freshly cleaned barrel. While this is seldom significant when hunting, it can make the difference between a 10 and a 10x when shooting a match. The only way to be certain is to put your rifle on paper and see if it makes any difference in YOUR gun. While you do have time in most matches to swab between shots, you seldom have the time to do a through cleaning, which is why target shooters tend to use fouling shots so that each on target shot is as consistent as possible with the previous. I have never been good enough for this to make a difference myself.

What this discussion really illustrates is that there is no "right" answer, only the answer that works for you. For me that is one of the fun things about shooting traditional muzzleloaders. Each gun has its own quirks and part of the fun is figuring them out.
 
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