The Muzzle Loaders Association of Great Britain (MLAGB) was formed in 1952 and is the Governing Body for muzzle loading within the UK. Its objectives are to encourage an interest in muzzle loading firearms; to promote, regulate and safeguard their use; and to preserve their freedom of collection.
During the 1960s the MLAGB introduced long range muzzle loading into their calendar. This has now expanded into a series of National Rifle Championship Matches which for target rifle are fired at 200, 300, 500, 600, 900 and 1000 yards at Bisley, Surrey. For the military rifle enthusiast there are also National Rifle Championships for the muzzle loading Enfield, fired at 200, 300, 500 and 600 yards.
Underpinning the MLAGB is a structure of (mostly) regional Branches; the Long Range Rifles (LRR) Branch seeks to foster an interest in long range target shooting and members shoot muzzle loading percussion rifles at ranges usually commencing at 600 yards. The Branch organises its events to tie in with the MLAGB series of mid and long range National Rifle Championship Matches at Bisley, Surrey enabling a full weekend of shooting. The match schedule includes the coveted Metford Trophy, an aggregate competition fired at 1000, 1100 and 1200 yards. Amongst other events there are also competitions specifically for the Whitworth rifle (600 yards), military match rifles (small-bore (.451) rifles fired at 600 yards), and for the military muzzle loader enthusiast seeking a real challenge the Asquith Cup, an aggregate match for .577 percussion rifles fired at 600 and 800 yards.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded in 1859 and held its first annual rifle meeting at Wimbledon in 1860. In 1890 the NRA moved to their present home at Bisley. Today modern target rifle shooting features strongly but events in which historical arms can be used are also included. The Phoenix Meeting (May), although dominated by gallery rifle and handgun events does include black powder cartidge rifle matches fired at long range. Both the Imperial Historic Arms (July) meeting and the Trafalgar Meeting (October) have events for military and target muzzle loading and black powder cartridge rifles fired at mid and long range.
Although not muzzle loading, the event schedule of the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association (HBSA) includes open competitions for black powder cartridge rifles at mid range and long range. The HBSA was founded in 1973 to encourage the preservation of breechloading firearms and to foster study of all the aspects from the aesthetics of the sporting gunmaker and engraver’s art to the functional equipment of the soldier or target shooter. The HBSA hold monthly lectures and practice shoots.
The world governing body for muzzle loading is the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Committee (MLAIC) and since 1999 has held Long Range World Championship, with competitions fired at 300, 500, 600, 900 and 1000 yards. The MLAGB, as the sports Governing Body within the UK, selects the British team.
Nothing beats experience in the discipline of long range muzzle loading. Rifle, equipment and to an extent the shooter can be tuned for optimum performance at shorter ranges, and the mid-range shooting of 200 to 600 yards offers valuable opportunity to learn. At longer distances the shooter really needs to get to the range and start to learn the effects that changing wind and atmospheric conditions have on the flight of the bullet. It is a challenging discipline but ultimately rewarding and the thrill of seeing the target drop below the mantlet at 1000 yards and reappear with a V-bull scored really has to be felt!