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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Chester County, PA
A key ingredient is getting in touch with someone who knows their way around a muzzle loader. Sure you can get onto this truly wonderful sport all on your own but there are a lot of short-cuts and knowledge that can be passed on by an experienced shooter that you will never pick up on your own - no matter how expensive your rifle and accouterments are.
However, and as some folks have already mentioned, buy the best flinter you can afford and be prepared for a steep learning curve. If you buy cheap gear then your chances of having a bad start leading to disappointment and frustration are very high. Since you are in this general area (SE PA) I recommend that you pay a visit to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop in Kempton. Have a list of questions and if you have to - wait in line to speak to Greg Dixon.
Experiment (within reason), read, listen and ask questions. Above all don't take chances and make sure the gun is unloaded. I have seen too many new ML shooters ram home a charge and then decide to end the days shooting without pulling the load or firing the rifle. Just saying.
Good night Chesty, wherever you are......