To begin this story I should first give the background of the firearm used, without it you will have no concept of just how amazing this tale is. It is about a Flintlock Musket called a Fusee or Fusel, perhaps made circa 1790, they were made to shoot a single ball for large game (or Humans) or Shot for smaller game and Birds.

       As Colonel George Hanger, a British officer who fought in the American Revolution wrote in 1814:
“A soldier's musket if not exceedingly ill-bored (as many are), will strike the figure of a man at 80 yards, perhaps even at 100; but a soldier must be very unfortunate indeed who shall be wounded by a common musket at 150 yards, providing his antagonist aims at him; and as for firing at a man at 200 yards with a common musket, you might just as well fire at the moon and have the same hope of hitting your object. I do maintain and will prove, whenever called on, that no man was ever killed at 200 yards by a common soldier's musket by the person who aimed at him.

       I first met Steve many years ago, perhaps twenty or so, we are both life members of the Antique Collectors Guild here in Melbourne, and he is one of those blokes who can make anything out of metal, also a walking encyclopaedia on antique firearms. He once showed me a Colt pistol 1851 Navy he made, a working model, but it was one third scale this included case, flask, bullet mould, nipple wrench, and other bits. It did work; it fired a .12 cal ball with the percussion caps he also made, an amazing piece of craftsman ship.

        I was a member of a Black Powder club at the time, (About 5 years ago) When I suggested to Steve he would enjoy seeing the great range of reproduction and original firearms being used there, he agreed to come up for a look the next month, he also asked if it would be ok if he brought his Flinter as well, “Oh course Steve, got any ball for it?” his reply stunned me, “Yes but I will turn up some hollow base slugs on my lathe” Not that it can’t be done but why? I was to find out just why.

       Steve turned up next month with his Wife, parked his car behind the lines so she could watch him, she got out a chair putting it in front of the car and started reading her book. Steve is as I said a good Bloke, in his Seventies I would guess, slight German accent, a true gentle man, he set up a target at 50 yds, and got out his Fusee, then he sat down and knapped a flint for it, first time I ever saw that done, most just buy them pre shaped. An original gun like that creates a bit of interest on the line, soon Steve had a small crowd watching him, he was in heaven, hitting and missing the 2 foot square target.

       All this time I noticed his Wife doing a bit of “Back seat Driving” making the odd comment about  his poor shooting, and wasting his time when the other shooters could at least hit their targets, it did not faze Steve in the least, he just went on “Whoosh-Banging” as the flinters sound. After about thirty shots Steve asked me how far the steel Buffalo target was, I told him it was 500 yards, and for his musket it would be an impossible shot. The Buff target is the size of a Cow, (now we have one at 600 yards that is the size of a Bison) Steve said he would have a go anyway, at this quite a few ears pricked up along the line, this would be impossible, but they would not say so to such a nice Bloke.

       His wife on the other hand did say something; she went at him about embarrassing himself and wasting his time “You can’t hit that target at fifty yards just how do you think you will hit something ten times as far, silly old Man” I was embarrassed for Steve, (And thanked “Himself” I was not Married) he was having a ball and I saw no need to be critical of that. We worked out that he should put in 80 grains of 2f black, he was using 60,  that he should try aiming at the tree that stands on the hill (About 12 degrees higher) and allow about 5 foot for windage, -Remember these guns have no back sight, and a acorn front bead, but the barrel is 42 inches long. 

       “I think I may try these Paul” said Steve and he showed me the bullets he made on his lathe, they looked like fat rockets, most would call them spire points, they had a deep hollow base and a very thin wall, much better than a ball, but it still would be almost an  impossible shot. All the while the “Back seat Driver” is nagging flat out, getting on everyone’s nerves; accept for Steve, he must be immune to it. Steve threw this ancient relic to his shoulder, the nagging intensified, and all ears are alert.” Whoosh-Bang-BONG” Direct hit, first shot, the blokes on the line roared approval, I also was stunned as I have used a Smooth Bore for thirty years, never could such a shot be done,  I looked at Steve and to this day I swear I saw a tear.

       One thing was missing, I turned around and looked back at his car, she was sitting still, with a look of shock on her face, I’m sorry I could not help it But….“Well I guess that will shut you up now” . With that, a look of malice to me, closed her book, folded up the chair, put it in the car boot and sat in the back seat, she stayed there for the rest of the day. Steve did not even notice, he was “The Cock O’ the Walk” He said “Will I try again?” “No Steve, please don’t, it would spoil a perfect record” He just smiled and agreed. Put his Fusee away and came over and shot some newer rifles- my percussion rifles. 

       Two months later I was up at the 500yd buff and found on the ground his bullet, it was flattened a bit, a solid hit, I made a mount for it and gave it to him, I wrote on it “The Improbable Shot”- No shot is impossible if you aim at it.  


Australian Hunting Net ©2006