Playing pioneers

Re-enactor Curry to participate in
NMLRA's Friendship Fall Shoot

Annual event returns Sept. 9-17

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

(September 2006) – The National Muzzle Loader Rifle Association (NMLRA) is a world-wide organization dedicated to the historical sport of muzzleloading. There are more than 18,000 members of the NMLRA, and with more than 1,200 registered competitors.

John Curry

Photo provided

John Curry travels the
region educating others
about pioneer life.

The association’s national shoots are an opportunity to see an important part of our national heritage. Competitors from as far away as Germany and Australia travel to the little town of Friendship, Ind., to compete in various competitions at the NMLRA’s Walter Cline Range.
This year, the NMLRA Fall Championship Shoot will be held during the week of Sept. 9-17. The opening ceremony will take place at noon on Saturday, Sept. 9. It will include a parade, horses, a fife and drum corp and fiddlers. Terri Trowbridge, Director of Publications, said there will be something for every member of the family to see during the weeklong event. The gates open at 8 a.m. Children 16-under are admitted free, while non-member adults will pay $4.
One man who will definitely be ready for action at the Fall Shoot is longtime NMLRA member John Curry, of Martinsville, Ind. Curry, 59, has a regular column in Muzzleblast, a publication for muzzle loaders.
He said he has always been fascinated with history, even as a kid. “I was interested and fascinated with the old days for as long as I can remember.” Curry’s interest has evolved over the past 35 years into an expertise on the southeastern long hunters of the 1760s.
He explained that many people are interested in the 1780s settlement era during the American Revolution, but he finds that he enjoys the period right before that, when things were still “wild and wooly.”
According to Curry, the long hunters of the Virginia and Carolina areas were poor men. They would travel for up to 350 miles throughout forests in Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina with no roads or modern conveniences and hunt for several years before going home. They took nothing but their rifles and lived off of the land. That is why they were called “long hunters.” Of course, they would go home rich men from all of the hunting.

John Curry

Photo provided

John Curry researches
the time period and writes about it in various journals.

Curry now travels throughout the southeast region emulating those brave and daring men. He dresses in period clothes and relives the past. He carries nothing but what a long hunter of the 1760s would carry when he is out in the wilds.
“We try to be totally authentic and live exactly as the long hunters would have,” he said.
He believes that if a man actually lives the lifestyle, he learns things he wouldn’t normally learn by simply reading about it in history books.
He researches the lifestyle of the long hunter through first-hand documentation, such as journals and diaries of the men who actually were long hunters. “I go looking in 2006 for the perfect 18th century experience.”
He then comes back and writes about those experiences. He also takes what he has learned and shares it with other history buffs.
Curry is a favorite speaker at many prominent history conventions and gatherings. He has been the keynote speaker and lead presenter at the Harrodsburg, Ky.’s annual conference and at Boonesboro, Ky. Both of these sites are central to early American history.
At the Eastern Rendezvous for long hunters, Curry will give a presentation and then lead a group of women and children into the woods for an 1860s camping experience they will never forget. He has arranged for them to be “attacked” by Indians, much like the situation that happened in 1856 to survivors of an attack on Canada’s Fort William. Curry calls the scenario a “grand scout.”
Of course, there will be hostile safety rules so no one will get hurt. This will actually be the first time he has participated in a grand scout where women and children are present. “It will be interesting to discover how possible hostages could play into the situation,” he said.
Curry will be attending the NMLRA Fall Shoot and participating in the various activities that are ongoing throughout the week. “I am looking forward to getting out to Friendship and seeing old friends and meeting new ones.”
The weeklong competition at Friendship will have a variety of family activities to go along with the competitions, including beadstringing and period games for children, a watermelon seed contest, a bow making class and a children’s embroidery seminar.
A frontier artist, period musicians, and a variety of period demonstrations, including butter churning, candle dipping, spinning and weaving and silversmithing, will be ongoing throughout the first weekend of the competition.
The NMLRA’s museum and Gun Maker’s Hall will be open. There will also be numerous prominent gun makers on sight working, and a variety of period vendors will be set up throughout the area.

• For more information and directions to Friendship, call the NMLRA at (812) 667-5131 or visit: www.nmlra.org.

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