BROOKVILLE — The forest rang with gunfire fired by Revolutionary War era soldiers for the 43rd annual Jefferson County Longrifles rendezvous at Harriger Hollow, near Brookville, this past weekend.
The Longrifles are a blackpowder shooting club dedicated to the art of flintlock and sidelock percussion muzzleloaders. The gathering brings together those with a passion for traditional guns, and the primitive camping and ways from around the French and Indian War era.
The site is the home of the first Eastern Primitive Rendezvous in 1976. The Eastern United States Rendezvous now attracts thousands of campsites each year for the competition. This year’s will be in September in Sugar Grove.
Eighty-two shooters were signed up on the first day in Jefferson County, with an opportunity for more to arrive on Sunday. There were even more people set up in campsites as vendors of primitive wares.
Twelve campsites were already set up Monday night. Many of those that come for the weekend competition make an entire vacation of the event. They will camp for the whole week, socializing with others who share their passion. Musicians will gather to play music and entertain around campfires as well.
To be set up at a campsite in the main gathering area, the campsite itself had to be primitive, and the campers needed to be dressed in period appropriate clothing. The modern campsites had their own location in the front near the parking lot.
The vendors were welcome to come and set up their tents, and donate a prize for the winners of the shooting competition at the end of the weekend. Vendors included blacksmiths, clothing stalls and jewelry.
The shooters get together in groups to go out on the trails together. There are several trails for them to choose from for the competition. The shots all vary in distance and difficulty, some being extremely difficult to see through the forest greenery. Others are more trick shots, like shooting a card in half from a distance.
One trail, the Mountain Man, has 11 stations with still targets of things like turkeys, coyotes and squirrels. Another trail offers a different kind of skill test. The hawk and knife trail gives competitors the chance to test their skills at throwing these weapons at the targets.
The Jefferson County Longrifles also have a spring rendezvous. This does not gather as many campsites because of the weather, but a shooting competition still takes place. The public is always welcome at the competitions to watch the shooters and take a trip back into the past.