TOWNSEND -- The encampment was about many things -- shooting skills, period equipment and socializing, among others.

Mountain men set up camp at the Townsend Rod and Gun Club for a match last weekend.

Half the battle was wearing the appropriate clothing. The outdoorsmen wore replicas of what a Rocky Mountain fur trader would have worn between 1825 and 1840.

The weapons and campsites were also based on what was available during that time.

Carrying a shotgun, Bob Smith, chairman of the black-powder committee at the club, defended the brim visible under his fur hat, claiming it was made from a leather cap.

The guns, both shotguns and rifles, were good for only one shot at a time.

A hunter might spend two or three days in the woods with a loaded weapon waiting for a good shot, he said. They carried a knife or tomahawk for a backup weapon.

One of the highlights of the black-powder shoots is the woods walk. Targets are scattered along a path for the participants to shoot at. Some of the stations are for the throwing weapons.

After the competition, the men gathered at a campsite to review the match.

Canvas tents were scattered near a beaver pond at the club. Smith slept under a buffalo hide the previous night -- at least when the beavers were not keeping him awake.

He made his own salt shaker from horn.

Some equipment is purchased. Paul Johansen of Billerica spent five years buying expensive, tin-lined, copper cookware.


Advertisement

Salt was one of the only flavorings, besides local herbs, that the trappers would have, Smith said.

That lack was no problem for Tom Knapp of Grafton as he planned his evening meal.

"I'm going to cook a rabbit," he said.

Garlic would add some flavor, and the meal would be rounded out by boiled carrots and baked potatoes.

Knapp's neighbors were invited to stop by.

Local black-powder enthusiasts have many opportunities to get together. Weekend gatherings are held frequently around New England and upstate New York.

Some events are stricter about equipment and clothing than others, Smith said. Some specialize in different eras, such as the Revolutionary or Civil War.

A black-powder shoot is held the third Sunday of each month at the club, 46 Emery Road, starting at 9 a.m.