Sunday, October 17, 2004

Madam, I am happy to see you...

...and yes, that is a cannon in my pocket.

If you've waded through my profile you already know I like shooting sports. The top of my armory is a black powder cannon.

Think of stamp collecting, only louder.

One of Roger L. Simon's frequent commentors, richard mcenroe, asked for a description. Here it is:

Our cannon is 42" long from cascabel (the little ball on the breech) to the muzzle, made of three thicknesses of high-carbon steel pipe that have been press fitted, internally welded, then turned on a lathe to give 14" diameter at the breech, stepping down twice to six inches at the muzzle. It's a 1.6" caliber smootbore (yes, designed originally with a golf ball in mind) and shoots one pound lead balls or cylindrical slugs made from pipe sections filled with lead. It sits in a naval carriage - a box with four wheels, vice the more elegant and easier to maneuver field carriage with the two wagon wheels. Carriage and tube together weigh almost three hundred pounds. I have honed the barrel over the years to the point that I shoot roundball almost exclusively; with three ounces of 4FA or 1fg blackpowder it will throw the ball into a +/- thirty foot circle at five hundred yards if I fire from a smooth surface and use the gunner's quadrant (and other tools) correctly. The accuracy trick with a smoothbore is to arrive at the proper charge and wadding combination that sends the ball out on a ring of expanding gases, not hammering back and forth against the bore and leaving the muzzle on an off-axis rebound.

It's an addiction. I did gunnery for all manner of towed and SP artillery (105mm to 8in, plus mortars) for a good while but there's nothing like the rotten egg smell you get in your hair and clothes from a long day shooting black powder arms.

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