Always control the muzzle of your firearm at all times during the loading process, keep the muzzle pointed in a direction that is safe and angled away from your body.
Never smoke around black powder!
Steps for loading and firing a Muzzleloader
- Run a dry patch down the barrel to dry out the oil and moisture. Blackpowder and substitutes readily attract moisture.
- With the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, "dry fire" a couple of caps to make sure that the passage through the nipple is clear. Set the hammer in half-cocked position over an uncapped nipple.
- Using a powder measurer, pour the black powder down the barrel. Never use smokeless powder because the pressures it creates would be excessive and unsafe for use in muzzleloaders. Never pour directly from the powder container for the following reasons:
- If a smoldering ember is present in the barrel, it could ignite the powder in the container.
- You could easily overcharge your firearm.
- Moisten a patch with saliva or other lubricant and place it over the muzzle of the rifle. Place the lead ball on top of the patch with the flat side up. The flat side is known as the sprue.
- Push the ball with the short starter until it is flush with the muzzle and then cut off excess patch material. Start the ball down the barrel with the long rod of the short starter.
- Using the ramrod, push the ball or bullet down the remaining distance of the barrel. A safer method is to grip the rod a few inches above the muzzle and push, repeating until the ball is firmly seated on the powder.
- It is imperative that the ball and patch be seated firmly on the powder. A ball and patch not firmly seated can cause the barrel to be damaged or rupture. The ramrod should be marked at the proper length to indicate if the ball has been firmly seated.
- Place the percussion cap on the nipple. This should only be done when the rifle is ready to be fired.
- If the rifle doesn't fire after you pull the trigger, continue to follow through for at least 60 seconds until you're certain that the firearm will not fire.
- Check the nipple and vent to see they are clear. Clean with the vent pick.
- Place a new percussion cap on the nipple and fire again.