Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Loomis Battery Michigan Historic Artillery Match : or : And you thought $1 per shot was expensive !

*Note- I'm sorry this is not so much of an article as just pictures and captions.

Every father and son who get along reasonably well should have a annual road trip/ pilgrimage that they embark on with other males to "bond" and have fun. The road trip that my father, our family friend Roger and myself embark on once a year trip such as this that also happens to involve live fire cannon matches, field guns, mountain howitzers, siege mortars and coehorn mortars. The annual Loomis battery civil war artillery match which takes place in Grayling Michigan is a one of a kind shoot that holds the famous "bacon creek" match for rifled guns (3" bore) at 1000 yards (might have been at 1200 yards this year but I'm not sure) Where competitors attempt to place 3 shots onto a sheet of newsprint at that distance. Its been done on several occasions which is really something when you think of these overbore muzzle loaders and the technology of the day back then.
This year my father finally finished building (still needs painted) a 24 pound coehorn in which we shot in the coehorn match with. Seven shots and the closest five are scored via string method from a pegged flag down range. Every year I learn something new and interesting about all the guns at the shoot and how they were utilized, how their sighting systems work and the different types of projectiles they fired.
During the 600 yard smooth bore gun match on Saturday competitors shot at a block house demo target with round balls 3" on up to show just what solid shot could do. This was not nearly the destruction could have been would they have been shooting bar shot or chain shot but the demo block house and some trees behind it took a severe beating.
This is what my dad does, he studies the history and a few weekends every year he lets loose with guys that every time they pull the lanyard they are letting $20-$50 fly downrange. Although this year I think dad let loose a little to much. As I was directing him to reposition our gun onto the target we had our first casualty of the match dad put a little too much UMPH into moving the gun and his pants couldn't take it.
My favorite gun at the match this year was a 3.2 Span Am cannon that was being restored to its former glory. Its a breech loading gun that has a interrupted thread locking system for the breech. The breech plug is a newly manufactured one by the match host and I was lucky enough to see the testing shots. Along with the 3.2 span am gun there were little hotchkiss cannons that are also breech loading. One of these would round out my collection very well if I could save up the money for one. All in all its a great way to spend a weekend if your a history buff, gun nut or just want to see some really unique. Check with the Grayling tourist info center for future match dates.