In Part 1 of this series we explored the first essential purchases a new skirmisher needs to make in order to get started. In Part 2, we looked at the accessories that can be most beneficial for new shooters add to their kit. In Part 3, we will look at what the best options are once a new shooters wants to start upgrading their equipment.
Upgrading Your Musket
As you get further into shooting, you will find that even the cheapest musket can often be easily upgraded to top-flight match rifles with the right steps. The first thing to do with a cheap musket is to have the trigger tuned. And while the effect may not last for more than a few years due to soft parts, it will dramatically improve performance by making the trigger much 'crisper'. Many people do not realize how much of their inaccuracy can be traced to the trigger pull and this modification is one of the steps you can take to improve this. Eventually, a skirmisher may want to replace the internal lock components with a hardened lockwork which will extend the life of this modification significantly. The second modification is to glass-bed the barrel. At the very least, consider having the breech/tang area and under the barrel bands done as these are the most critical areas. This is a very low cost modification that can significantly improve accuracy as well as the life of the musket. Glass bedding ensures a much tighter seat for the barrel to rest in the stock. And finally, a skirmisher may decide to either replace the barrel of his musket or having it bored out and relined with a match liner. In either case, this can also greatly affect the accuracy of it as well.
A musket with the full set of modifications will deliver outstanding performance for a Skirmisher’s lifetime. Many of the top finishing skirmishers are shooting with a musket which has been modified exactly as noted above.
Upgrading Your Uniform
Once you’ve determined that Skirmishing is a sport you intend to stay with you’ll probably want to upgrade your uniform as funds permit. A blouse or shell jacket will probably be the top priority to provide warmth on cool shooting days. Period trousers are probably a second priority unless the uniform of your team requires such an expense. Next you should consider a raincoat or at the least a poncho as this can extend your ability to shoot comfortably into times of inclement weather. The next item to consider is footwear but experienced skirmishers are likely to recommend that a pair of black rubber boots come before period brogans or boots. Rubber boots will keep your feet dry during wet weather which is often more important for a skirmisher than authenticity. Fort Shenandoah is notorious for ankle-deep mud at the 100-yard line after a rain and watertight footwear will come in handy. Once these items are done, a second or third period shirt can come in handy during hot or wet weather once your first shirt becomes unwearable.
All that being said, part of the joy of skirmishing is creating your own persona through your uniform and accessories. Don't neglect the potential to sew some of these items yourself or have customized items sewn for you. There are patterns available and while some items require a higher degree of sewing skill, others like a haversack require very little skill and are good for a novice. Adding something you personally made to your uniform can often be an underestimated joy of skirmishing!
After reading all three of the articles in this series, you should have all the tools you need to gets started skirmishing on a budget!
Mike McDaniel has been a member of the N-SSA since 1978 and is currently a member of McGregor’s 2nd Battery, CSA. He is a second generation skirmisher and grew up at Fort Shenandoah. While he shoots musket and carbine his greatest passion is the revolver where he has won six national N-SSA championships and over 150 revolver DSCA points. He also has the honor to be Deputy Team Captain for the United States International Muzzle-Loading Team (USIMLT).