Book Trailer for Pilikia

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Smoke and Fire.

Last weekend, I went with a dozen friends, most of them writers, to Art and Helene Burnett's place in Bremond, Texas, about forty miles from College Station. Art Burnett, is an avid gun collector and firearms historian. He had prepared a hands-on demonstration of some antique weapons along with some discussion of their history. The guns included a replica of a fifteenth century matchlock, some flintlocks, a caplock, and various old West shotguns, carbines, and revolvers. After the lecture and demonstrations, the day concluded with a pumpkin shoot where we all dispatched an army of squash to the great pumpkin patch in the sky. Check out the Great Pumpkin Shoot on his website

We fired them all. Here are pictures of me firing a .45 Winchester 1874 rifle, a .45 Colt single action revolver, and a 12 guage double-barreled shotgun, a copy of a Greener manufactured in England in the 1870s.

Winchester 1874 .45 long Colt

Colt single action, .45 ACP

Copy of a Greener 12 guage shotgun.

We shot a Sharps 1874 model .45-70, ths same gun Tom Selleck used in Quigly Down Under. and a modern .45-70 bolt action. The difference between the two is that the Sharps fired a black powder cartridge and the modern one loaded hotter. I though the Sharps had a recoil, but the modern one nearly took my shoulder off, but talk about pumpkin stopping. This is why squash fear me.

Sharps 1874, .45-70

Nothing compared to firing that matchlock. It was about 2/3 replica of a British model and fired a .50 musket ball. You load it by pouring black powder down the muzzle, wrapping a lead ball in paper and ramming it home. Then you fill the firing pan with powder and attach a match to the mechanism. The match is a slow-burning fuse with an ember on the end. Here's a video of me with the matchlock. Talk about noise, smoke and fire. It's like grabbing a dragon by the tail.

Firing the matchlock

If you're a writer of any genre and need some authoritative information on weapons, modern or historical, contact Art Burnett at And if you want a great learning experience, sign up for one of his events.


  1. Arthur B. Burnett said...

    Thank you for the kind words Mark. We enjoyed having you folks come out.
    I know your trying to be modest but tallent needs to be acknowledged. From the initial check out with me to the other firearms you mentioned I never saw you miss even once.

  2. Carol Kilgore said...

    Sounds like fun - all except taking off your shoulder. Ouch.

  3. Helen Ginger said...

    How interesting. Were you doing research for a book or for the future?

    Straight From Hel

  4. Mark Troy said...

    It was fun, Carol. And that's the main reason I did it, Helen, although any experience is good research. I do have an idea for a western and have written two chapters on it, so it will all be useful.

  5. Kevin R. Tipple said...

    Very cool, Mark!