Friday 30 January 2015

Chewed Round Ball For Accuracy; True or False?

Chewed Round Ball For Accuracy; True or False?
Chewed Pistol and Musket Shot
Circa 1640's. Original lead shot or 'musket balls' used by matchlock type muskets and pistols, but chewed to create a 'dumdum bullet'. Reference: Bailey, G. Finds Identified, p. 69-72. Very fine condition. Provenance: found on a Charles I Civil war battle site near Harston, Cambridgeshire.

I have noticed some information of late about chewing lead balls for accuracy in a smoothbore. Shooters are not actually biting these lead balls, but they are rolling them with a rasp to simulate biting. Having fired a .60 ball from a 12 gauge with some accuracy, I had my doubts that anyone would bother chewing on a ball to make it more accurate. To put this in its proper perspective, we must remember that smoothbore ball was not patched in the 18th century, it was wadded. Just like using small shot.
Research done on balls found in the field with teeth marks indicates that many had been bitten by wild boar. Others may have been used to bite on when being surgically operated on, though it is more likely that in most cases a leather belt would be used. I myself finding myself in this situation rolled up my neckerchief and bit down on that whilst gripping the sides of the bed; much preferable to biting on a lead ball. Records from the American Revolution indicate that some soldiers may have chewed on musket balls to make the wound more damaging, but no where in 18th century writings so far, have I found any indication that smoothbore bullets were chewed on to produce more accuracy.

If anyone can produce primary documentation to the contrary, I would be very interested to hear from you. Meanwhile, I will leave my balls smooth and round and accept the reasonable accuracy that I get.

"The leader, on each side, immediately blows the small whistle he carries for the occasion, in imitation of the ancient trumpet, as the last signal of engagement. Now hot work begins -- The guns are firing; the chewed bullets flying; the strong hiccory bows a twanging; the dangerous barbed arrows whizzing as they fly" James Adair

rebellious rascals, who both poisoned and chewed the musket balls, in order to make them the more fatal. Many officers have died of their wounds, and others very ill: ’tis astonishing what a number of officers were hit on this occasion; but the officers were particularly aimed at.
Lt. John Waller of the British Marines 1775.


Sunday 25 January 2015

More Artifacts.

Set of table knives and forks. Most had been lost in the house fire.

Spoon fragments. The spoon handle on the top left is ca. 1650-1700 knopf-head spoon, found in the north cellar. Next are two “dog-nose” spoons of the period ca. 1702-1713, a rounded end type of the early 18th century, a spoon bowl, and on the bottom is a nearly complete “Hanoverian” type which dates to the period ca. 1715 to 1800.

Sewing items from the Sprague house including scissors, needles, straight pins, thimbles, and a bone cap from a needle case. Colonial families made most of their own clothing

Various tools including (from left to right): two fragments of triangular files, a punch, four drill bits (one was bent into a hook), three splitting feathers, two knives and a complete half-round file with the maker’s initials “IK” stamped into it.

A Look At Some 18th Century Artifacts.

Primary documentation can't be beat, this is what every living historian looks for. But what I like most in some of the following images, is the proof that people used to make their own things from recycled materials. This does not give us licence to make just anything because it is made from period materials, but it does allow us to make the items that we know were self-made.
A white-tailed-deer antler with saw marks from the north cellar, evidence the Spragues were working antler.

A Barlow type folding jackknife and whetstone. Barlow jackknives had large iron bolsters (the iron behind the blade) which gave them more durability.

Several artifacts made from scrap brass: a small saw, a repaired kettle rim, and a small hasp for a small box.

Cufflinks were often decorated. Most have geometric designs or floral themes. The cufflink on the bottom right has a cornucopia engraved on it, likely symbolic of men’s roles as growers of food. On the top left is a brass aglet for lacing clothing and a possible “hook” part to a “hook-and-eye” fastener.

A lead net weight, a lead line sinker and two fishhooks.

European flint strike-a-lights and ballast cobble debris. The largest reddish piece is a strike-a-light made from Pennsylvania jasper.

Slag, a fragment of a nail header, scrap iron, nails blanks and various types of nails, including T-head, L-head, rose-head, headless and shoeing nails.

17th-century gunflints, found at Le Vieux Fort, Placentia. 
Photo courtesy of Amanda Crompton.

Gunflints, lead shot, musket balls, a lead gunflint wrap, a fragment of a brass side plate with dragon motif and the finial to a bayonet scabbard.
A claw hammer head, side and top view.

A variety of items made from scrap iron, including a sieve, a funnel, and two knife blades made into strapping to reinforce something.

Personal items including a George II Oldhead halfpenny (1740-1754), George I “Irish Wood” halfpenny dated 1723, a William III halfpenny dated 1699, and a small piece of a silver coin. There are a plain brass ring, iron mouth harp, and pieces of a bone comb and a copper-alloy comb. These combs have two sizes of teeth: the larger for grooming, the smaller to remove nits and lice from the hair. In the bottom left is a small brass plate with the letters “IB” stamped into it.

Scissors, a needle, glass beads, straight pins and thimbles.

Thursday 22 January 2015

The Truth About Firearms Ownership In Australia & Gun Legislation.

The general public do not seem to understand that the law abiding Australian firearms owner is NOT a criminal. Constantly there are calls for tougher firearms legislation, all aimed at making it harder for the legitimate would be law abiding gun owner to actually own a gun. The government have introduced more laws to make it even more difficult for gun owners to purchase ammunition, again, all aimed at law abiding citizens. What will it take for the general public, & the government to start making it harder for the criminals in our society to obtain guns.
We keep saying it over & over, take our guns away, & the only people with guns will be the police & the criminals. We do not have the right to own a gun to defend ourselves & our families from criminals, why not?! Who's bloody side are the politicians on? We, the law abiding citizen gun owners are doing all we can to protect our guns & keep them safe, but we need your help, the general public to do that. You should be out there demanding stiffer penalties for criminals involved in gun related crime. You should be out there demanding better health care for the mentally ill. You should be out there demanding that the government crack down on the sale & use of illegal drugs, this all affects the misuse of firearms in our community. 
So stop blaming us, we are NOT the enemy, we are NOT the criminal. We are just normal people trying to get on with our lives & enjoy the normal appreciation of firearms as they have been appreciated for hundreds of years. If you don't like guns, fine, but that does not give you the right to penalise us because we do like guns, we have a right to like guns, we have a right to own guns. We are free Australian citizens, & so long as we are not breaking any laws, we have the same rights as you. Don't be a party to making laws that will make us criminals.
Keith H. Burgess 23/01/2015.

Bullshit From The Greens.
“Following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, the Howard government led the process of formulating the National Firearms agreement with the view of introducing and harmonising firearms laws across Australia. All semi-automatic long arm weapons were banned and a large-scale national buyback was instigated.
Since then, however, gun laws in NSW have been watered down due to political pressure from the Shooters Party, moving NSW away from the National Firearms agreement and increasing the number of guns and gun owners in NSW. http://davidshoebridge.org.au/portfolios-2/firearms/
Gun laws watered down? Can anyone tell me exactly what it is that we have now that we did not have then? Semi-auto guns are still banned in NSW. Pump action guns are restricted by licence to professional shooters only.

“New figures released today show that almost 200,000 native ducks have been shot dead by amateur hunters in NSW over the last five years. This industrial scale killing is said to be for the protection of rice crops. The Greens and animal rescuers are calling for an end to the amateur hunting of our native 
As far as I know, duck hunting has been banned in NSW for the past several years.
Traditional duck hunting was effectively banned under the Carr Government, but the passage of theGame and Feral Animal Control Further Amendment Act 2012 will re-introduce duck hunting under a system that puts limits on where, when and how many ducks can be hunted, but not in the usual form of open seasons.
Instead, in areas where the new Native Game Bird Management Committee considers populations need to be managed, licensed hunters will be allowed to shoot them.
“The application process has been streamlined through Game Council, which frees up resources to better help our farmers,” Mr Mumford said.
At least one ongoing hurdle remains for NSW hunters: opportunities to sit the compulsory waterfowl identification test (WIT) are currently limited. They are conducted by the Victorian government, the Victorian-based Field & Game Australia, and the NSW NPWS out of its Griffith office”.
So what has happened is, that due to duck hunting being banned, the numbers of ducks have increased; which is a good thing, but, there are now more ducks feeding on farm crops. So the hunting of ducks is now restricted to farm crops only.
The Greens Firearms Policy.


Revised March 2014
The Greens NSW believe:
 1. Public firearms policy should be concerned with the prevention of firearm violence and be directed towards the removal of objects that cause injury and death; (What they are saying is, that all firearms should be taken from law abiding citizens so that only the police & the criminals have firearms).
 2.    Public policy should be underpinned by World Health Organisation standards and the resolutions outlined Australasian Police Ministers Council Agreement on Firearms. ;( I have no idea what this means. Anyone?).
 3.    The availability of firearms contributes to violence in our society; (It may well do, but only the illegal guns available to criminals through the black market, NOT the guns owned & secured by law abiding licenced gun owners).
 4.    There must be a holistic approach to preventing gun violence, including:
 4.1    tough legislation to reduce firearm ownership; (We already have this. Application for a firearms licence includes a Police check of that person in regards to any criminal record).
4.2    education on the dangers of firearms; (We already have this, in the mandatory firearms licence test).
4.3    long term funding for programs that help to reduce gun violence; (I can’t argue with this one, but the Abbott government has cut funding to health care & social services, which is a great pity. Mental illness is a problem, & it is being ignored. Same with drugs; Both contribute to gun violence).
4.4    support for intelligence based policing to prevent firearm crime; and
4.5    ongoing funding for research into preventing gun violence. (This is really just so much dribble, I mean just what does this statement mean? We do not need to spend any more of the tax payers dollars, we already know where the problem lies. We need a better health service, we need to crack down on crime & drugs. End of story).
5.    The aims and tactics of the gun lobby must be publicly exposed. (They have already been made public. Whilst I will agree that there are some gun lobby factions out there that do not put forward sensible reforms, the majority of gun owners, like myself, only want a fair go. We are not out to reintroduce automatic or semi-auto guns, but we would like to reduce the cost to the law abiding gun owner & the tax payers of Australia by removing useless, pointless, & needless legislation).
6.    Rural owners of licensed firearms should limit their use of firearms to legitimate farm purposes and minimise disturbance of people on neighbouring properties. (Now what the bloody hell is this comment about? Now farmers are on the firing line?! We use our firearms for the shooting of feral animals, that is not only our right, but it is in fact our responsibility! Since when have we been known to interfere with our neighbours in this regard?!).
7.    That personal protection should never be regarded as a genuine reason for owning, possessing or using a firearm. (Well this will not likely ever happen, but this statement is being made by a Greens member who has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. There are, & always will be, times when someone will need a firearm to protect themselves & their family. Just think sensibly yourself for a moment, what would you do if confronted in your own home by someone with a knife or an axe or a base ball bat who intends to injure you or kill you. You are the only one standing between this violent criminal & your family members. You think you have time to call the police? How long will they take to arrive? You & your loved ones could be dead by then. DO NOT say this could not happen, it has already for many people, & it will again. To say that we do not have the right to protect ourselves & our families is ridiculous & inhuman).
Policy detail 
The Greens NSW will work towards:
8. Legislation which brings NSW laws into line with the 1996 Australasian Police Ministers Agreement on firearms;
9. A total ban on the ownership, importation and use of semi-automatic firearms; (Personally I don’t have a problem with this, but guns of this type, already confiscated by the police, have been turning up at crime scenes! Military firearms have found their way onto the black market! Are we going to ban the use of these guns across the board? Police & Military as well?).
10. An improved firearms registration system in NSW; (We do not need an improved one, we already have a registration system in place. This needs removing all together so we can save the tax payer unneeded expense).
11. Improved cooperation between the NSW government and other levels of government in Australia to strengthen national uniform gun laws, firearms training and a national register of firearms; ( I do not agree with the register, but I agree with the rest. We do need sensible uniform firearms legislation Australia wide).
12. The development (with the appropriate rights of appeal and protection of privacy) of the most stringent mechanisms to ensure that those who are not fit and proper to possess a licence to own a gun do not get a licence;  (This is already in place).
13. Tighter legislated minimum standards for the refusal and cancellation of licenses, including:
13.1 Conviction of violent offences within the past five years;
13.2 Being subject to an Apprehended or Domestic Violence Order within the past five years; and
13.3 Mental or physical fitness.  (Already in place; These comments are just pandering to the general public & anti-gun lobbyists to make the Greens look go0d).
14. The abolition of existing minors' permits;  (Stupid comment & totally irresponsible. We need to teach proper & safe gun use to minors so that they will be responsible & safe gun owners).
15. All persons seeking a licence being required to:
15.1 Have no criminal record involving violence, have a character reference from an authorised member of the community and the right of veto by household (immediate relatives or partners) members; (The criminal record part is just repeating what they have already said, & it is not necessary. This legislation is already in place. The rest of this comment is simply unreasonable. The applicant may not be known by an “authorised member of the community”, whoever that may be?! You think family members should have control over your life just because you don’t get on?! Total cods wallop).
15.2 Undergo a 28 day waiting period to enable check for a criminal record (including applications for a second or subsequent firearm); (The criminal record check is already done before the licence is issued, so this is rubbish. There is already a 28 day waiting period before you can purchase a gun, which again is a total waste of time & serves absolutely no purpose other than to frustrate the law abiding would-be gun owner).
15.3 Demonstrate safety knowledge; (Again, just repeating what they have already said, this requirement is already in place as part of the firearms licensing test).
15.4 Establish good and genuine reasons for possessing a licence (e.g. persons with an occupational requirement, e.g. primary producers, other rural purposes, security employees and professional shooters for nominated purposes or a member of an approved sports shooting association); (Nothing mentioned here about the recreational hunter or the person who needs to hunt for food. Yes, these people exist. Recreational hunters do a terrific job of cutting down the numbers of feral animals that are at present a threat to our environment & native wildlife. These hunters, despite what the Greens will tell you, do mote for the eradication of feral pests than any other organisation in Australia).
15.5 Undergo tests for licences conducted by the police, or an independent government body, rather than by members of the NSW Sporting Shooters' Association; and, (This would cost the tax payer even more money. The police department don’t have enough hours in the day to fight crime as it is, & the Greens want to give them more work to do! The licensing system is working just fine as it is, in fact, the firearms group members know more about firearms than the police do, & this is a known fact!).
15.6 Be required to renew licences at regular intervals with the payment of a fee to cover government costs, with licences to be issued for a period of no more than 5 years; (Already in place).
16. Sale and purchase of firearms and ammunition only through licenced firearms dealers; (Already in place).
17. Legislation that allows the sale of ammunition only for those firearms for which the purchaser is licensed, with a limitation on the amount of ammunition that can be purchased at any given time; (Already in place. In fact, there has been another stupid requirement added, which means that you can only purchase ammo for the guns registered in your name, & you have to produce the registration at the gun dealers! This means that the gun dealer now has your details & home address! These details are not secure! And my wife, though a licensed gun owner, can’t purchase ammo for her own gun because as a farm firearm it is registered in my name! How bloody stupid is that?!).
18. Registration of firearms at the time of purchase with details to be sent immediately to police for registration; (More work for the gun dealer & rather pointless, as there is already a record of the buyer)
19. A ban on mail-order sales of firearms and ammunition; (Already in place. Guns must be posted to a licensed gun dealer & picked up from there).
20. A state-wide register of all ammunition bought and sold in NSW; (What is the point of this, we have already demonstrated that there is a restriction on ammunition sales, so this would just add more expense for the Australian tax payer!).
21. A prohibition on guns being stored: (Guns being stored. What does this mean? We already have regulation gun safes which are mandatory, are they saying we should not have safes? Or are they talking about hoarding firearms? Having more than one firearm?).
21.1 In rural homes without good reason; and (In rural homes without good reason? Sorry, this one goes over my head. I thought we had already covered this one under rural land holder’s responsibilities?!).
21.2 In urban homes, except where a licence is granted for antique gun collectors (defined as manufactured prior to 1920) and the guns have been disabled; (What is all this about? The antique date by the way is 1901, NOT 1920, get your dates right! They want to ruin an antique by disabling it?! When there is no ammunition available for these guns anyway! Read the regs Greens).
22. All ammunition must be stored in locked containers separate from any firearms; ( Already in place)
23. Guns in urban areas are to be stored at gun clubs under lock and key, with firing mechanisms kept at designated police stations; (Ah yes, this is to make it easier for criminals to steal all the guns at once from just one place, brilliant, NOT!).
24. Regular unannounced checks by police or another enforcement body to ensure that individuals and clubs are abiding with firearm storage regulations; (Already in place, in fact this is NSW wide for all firearms owners, not just clubs).
25. Enforcement of regulations requiring guns in homes in rural communities to be kept in a metal box with a combination lock securely bolted to wall or floor, with firing mechanisms and ammunition locked in a similar box in a separate room; (Give me a break Greens. We already have regulation gun safes bolted to the floor, now you want us to put in more safes in another room of the house for ammo & actions?! We already have a separate locked safe for ammo & actions in the same room as part of present regulations. You are just trying to give us a hard time. When will you understand that the law abiding community is not the problem? WE are not the criminals here, so stop treating us as though we were!).
26. The immediate and mandatory police confiscation of all firearms from people who show themselves to be unfit to hold a licence, and where a license has been revoked - this is to apply to both interim domestic violence order and those who are subject to a domestic violence order; (I agree with most of this, but the wording “show themselves to be unfit” is a little ambiguous don’t you think? Just who makes this decision? No I don’t like that bit).
27. A permanent amnesty for the surrender of unauthorised firearms and strict penalties for those people found possessing unauthorised firearms; (Fair enough).
28. The development of a strict new set of training and testing procedures for all security guards with all existing security services being required to meet the new standards. (Well I am ex security, I owned my own security business, & the training required at the time to obtain a security licence was pretty stringent. I don’t see any point in adding unneeded requirements. There are some real nasty people getting security licences, but I fail to see how you can weed these people out with a test. It is the same with the police, some good ones, & some bad ones. If you can’t improve on the Australian police force, how do you imagine you can do any better with security personnel?).
The Newgreen Report By Chief Inspector Lex Newgreen,
Victorian Police.
End Firearm Registration. Chief Inspector Newgreen
Herald-Sun 2 November 1990.
 COMPULSORY Registration of all Firearms should be Abolished,

Regulation Gun Safes.

Greens NSW Firearms Policy PDF.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Firearms Legislation. What Do We Need?

Firearms Legislation.
What Do We Need?

By any type of firearms legislation, what is the main goal? What do we want to achieve? Firstly I think we need to achieve a reasonable level of safety for Australian citizens, without impeding the freedom & rights of Australian gun owners. Note I said “reasonable level of safety”. I say that because there will always be a criminal element in our society that will ALWAYS have access to illegal firearms, no matter what our government may legislate. You simply can not expect criminals to obey the law; that is why we call them criminals!
At present in New South Wales, a person wanting to own a firearm must pass a written & practicle exam before they can obtain a firearms licence. When they want to purchase a firearm, they must apply for a “permit to purchase”. This permit must show the exact firearm that the licensed person wants to acquire, & this is done by recording the serial number of the firearm that is for sale. If that firearm is sold by the time the permit is issued, then the licensed person must start all over again, finding another gun, & applying for another permit to purchase.
Once the gun is purchased & in the charge of the licensed gun owner, it must be at all times, other than when in use or being cleaned, lock in a secure firearms safe that meets all legislation requirements. Next this firearm must be registered with the New South Wales Firearms Registry. Only two of these requirements do anything to partially secure the safety of the Australian public, & that is the licensing of the would-be gun owner, & the requirement that the firearm be secured in a gun safe. Permit to purchase & firearms registration does nothing except add more cost for the gun owner & the Australian tax payer, & of course more work & cost for the NSW Firearms Registry which is a part of the NSW Police Service.
air rifles
rimfire rifles(other than self-loading)
shotguns (other than pump action or self-loading)
shotgun/rimfire rifle combinations.

muzzle-loading firearms (other than pistols)
centre fire rifles (other than self-loading)
shotgun/centre fire rifle combinations.

LICENCE CATEGORY C: (prohibited except for occupational purposes)
self-loading rimfire rifles with magazine capacity of no more than 10 rounds
self-loading shotguns with magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds
pump action shotguns with magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds.

LICENCE CATEGORY D: (prohibited except for official purposes)
self-loading centre fire rifles
self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds
self-loading shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds
pump action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds
any firearm to which a category C licence applies.

pistols (including blank fire pistols and air pistols).
Special licensing requirements apply for Licence Category H. They are not addressed in the Handbook. For information on pistol licences contact the NSW Police Firearms Registry.

In all Licence Categories, the licensee is authorised to possess or use registered firearm(s) of the kind to which the licence applies, but only for the purpose established by the licensee as being the genuine reason(s) for possessing or using the firearm(s).
Please note that certain classes of firearms are restricted; every would-be gun owner MUST give a good reason for owning any firearms. This of course only applies to law abiding citizens; criminals have no restrictions placed on them at all.
Also note that Muzzle-Loading firearms other than pistols require a B Class licence, the same as centerfire firearms.
Shotguns require an A Class licence. But some Muzzle-Loading guns are also shotguns, but they are on a B Class licence.
Firearms made before 1901 are classed as antiques, & providing modern ammunition can not be purchased over the counter for these guns. These antiques require no licence, permit to purchase, or registration. It is interesting to note here, that modern made Muzzle-Loading firearms are no different in design or operation than an antique Muzzle-Loading gun, yet the modern replica requires a licence, registration & permit to purchase.
Let me give you a quick run down on how a Flintlock Muzzle-Loading gun works. Gunpowder must be loaded loose, down the barrel from the muzzle using a powder measure. The shotgun is then loaded with two wads down the barrel, then loose shot also with a measure, then another wad is loaded on top. Each wad load must be pushed down the barrel with a ramrod or wiping stick. Then you have to prime the pan with more loose gunpowder. Ignition is supplied by a piece of rock, yes rock as in stone. This rock is held in the jaws of a cock. When the trigger is pulled, the cock flies forward & the piece of rock strikes the hammer. This causes sparks to fall into the priming pan igniting the priming powder which flashes through a vent into the breech of the barrel & ignites the main charge in the barrel & the gun fires.
Now I am sure, even if you are a firearms novice, that you will see that not just anyone will know how to make this gun work properly. It is NOT the choice of criminals, it is NOT the choice of people wishing to commit suicide, & it is NOT the choice of mentally ill people wishing to slaughter their family or anyone else. This gun is the choice of Living Historians, Historical Reenactors & Muzzle-Loading enthusiast, & yet the same restrictions are placed on this primitive tool as is placed on centerfire breech loading cartridge firing firearms.
1.        I propose that the registering of all firearms be abolished. I see no reason for registration. It does allow the government to keep track of who owns what so they can be confiscated at any time, but this does not add to the well being of the general public.
2.       I propose that the Permit To Purchase be abolished. This too serves no purpose that I can see, other than to make it harder for a law abiding citizens to acquire a firearm.
3.       I propose that permit to purchase & registration be abolished for the ownership of all reproduction FlintlockWheellockMatchlock, & Tinderlock firearms, including; pistols, shotguns, rifles, fusils, muskets, swivel guns, wall guns, palisade guns, & blunderbuss. Compared to the array of modern firearms available on the black market, this type of gun poses no threat to the general public what so ever, & to suggest that it does is simply not sensible or practicle & shows total ignorance on the part of the law makers.
4. I propose that all muzzle-loading guns other than percussion locks & cap & ball revolvers require only a Category A licence.
5. I propose that percussion lock muzzle-loading guns & cap & ball revolvers require only a Category B licence.
6. I propose that the requirement for all muzzle-loading pistols & cap & ball revolvers be for Hunting  & that pistol club membership not be mandatory. These primitive arms have been used for a back-up for hunting for centuries, as the muzzle-loading long arm is usually only a single shot. Carrying a muzzle-loading pistol is a humane way of dispatching game if it is wounded, & carrying one when hunting wild boar is a safety measure for the hunter.

If anyone has any views or suggestions relating to this article & firearms legislation in Australia, I would welcome their comments.


The Matchlock gun requires a length of burning match cord to supply ignition.

The Wheellock gun requires a piece of pyrite rock to supply ignition, & a key to wind up the lock.

The Flintlock gun requires a piece of flint rock to supply ignition. If the flint is not sharp, or if the weather is wet, then this gun may not fire.

The swivel gun must be mounted on a post or a wall, it can not be fired freehand. Ignition is supplied by a burning match cord secured in a linstock. The burning match must be placed in the vent by hand to make this gun fire.