Champion muzzle loader Brice Harper casts his own bullets, shoots a custom Foster rifle and has the shooting range all to himself at the Santa Fe Trail Sportsman Club.
He is looking for a few interested men and women to pursue their own journeys in a sport that has taken him around the world and back to his home in Dodge City, where he has no peers in his chosen field of expertise.
"The cool thing about this sport is they need people," Harper said. "It’s just that people don’t know what’s out there."
By day, Harper delivers medical supplies, but in his free time, the Dodge City resident is making preparations for the 2020 Long-range Muzzle Loading Nationals in Phoenix.
In the past, muzzle loading has given him the opportunity to compete internationally against teams from all around the world in such places as South Africa and, most recently, London, England.
In August he won gold for the United States in an international competition with black powder firearms hosted by the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Confederation.
Due to the current political climate, Harper shies away from using the word "shooter" to describe himself, preferring "marksman" or "rifleman," but that is exactly why he would like to educate people about the responsible and athletic use of firearms through involvement in the Sportsman Club.
More specifically, he is looking for kids ages 14 or under for a .22 silhouette competition at the Sportsman’s Club that he said is affordable to participate in and accessible to any skill level.
At 41, Harper is the youngest club member by a decade.
Membership dues are $100 annually.
"I think the biggest thing is education," Harper said. "When people have been properly introduced (to shooting) by a professional they don’t feel so anxious. When they know what firearms are about and how to operate them, they’re usually not scared of them."
Muzzle loading dates back to the 15th century, and when rifling was introduced to the barrel in the mid 1800s, "it gave our soldiers and civilians more accuracy," Harper said.
"Accuracy is everything," he said. "You’ve got to be steady and pay attention to details so you have a good routine every single time."
This world champion started small, with target practice, in 2007.
"I couldn’t play sports and wasn’t that good at my instrument in the school band," he said. "This is the first thing I was really good at."
For more information, contact Santa Fe Trail Sportsman’s Club President Russ McBee at 620-253-3888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Confederation website at www.mlaic.org and the United States International Muzzle Loading Team at www.usimlt.com/About.html.
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