BUCKHANNON - Muzzleloading shooting appeals to a variety of people throughout the state who are interested in keeping a traditional form of shooting alive.
Muzzleloading shooters can be found in all parts of West Virginia.
There are several clubs located throughout the state, said Shannon Lewis, president of the West Virginia Muzzle Loaders Association Inc.
Todd Ware, of Buckhannon, W.Va., shows his son, Clay, how to shoot a muzzleloading rifle. Muzzleloading is a popular form of shooting across West Virginia, shooting contests and people using them to go hunting.
''The people who belong to these clubs and the WVMLA are the nicest, friendliest people that I have ever met,'' she said. ''I call them friends, as they are great people.
''If anyone would like to see muzzleloading in action, please feel free to come to a shoot, see how it works, and shoot a gun. The people there are always welcoming and more than willing to let someone try shooting.''
As with any hobby there are risks and a need for safety.
Last month, Dominick Ryan Oliver, 16, of 7765 Dalzell Road, was hunting along Liberty Ridge Road in Washington County when his rifle exploded, causing serious injuries to his right eye and hand.
There are two types of muzzleloaders, Lewis said. There are percussion guns which require a cap as a primer, and there is also the more traditional flintlock which requires fine powder igniting from the strike of a flint. There is a modern muzzleloader, called an inline, which is similar to a rifle in that it has a scope.
''All muzzleloaders should be loaded with black powder or black powder substitute,'' Lewis said. ''Nothing else.
''When shooting a muzzleloader, especially for the first time, it is wise to talk to someone who has been around them and who may have some experience with them.''
Of course, muzzleloaders are loaded through the muzzle, but there are powder measurements involved, which can be tricky, Lewis said.
''It is important to not overload the gun with too much powder,'' she said. ''When shooting at paper targets with ranges from 25 yards to 100 yards, typically 50-70 grains of powder is more than adequate.
''Of course when hunting, a larger load is required. The biggest safety issue is not priming the gun until you are ready to shoot, which mean having the gun pointed to where you want to shoot. Gun safety in general is no joke and very important when handling any gun.''
Muzzleloading appeals to a wide variety of people.
''I personally enjoy muzzleloading very much,'' Lewis said. ''I have been shooting since the age of around 8-years-old.
''I got started with my dad who also shoots. I shoot a gun that my dad built for me. It is probably the cheapest form of shooting out there, as it requires powder, patch and ball, and that's about it. There are challenges when it comes to shooting, but the rewards that come with it and doing well far out way the challenges.''