Monday, September 18, 2017

Australian Gun Culture Part 24: Black Powder at 1000 Meter Range at Nioka, NSW

Small white square in distance is 1000 meter target.

On Saturday, 16 September, 2017, my friend, Curtis Eykamp, was showing me a bit of Australia. He wanted me to see a captured Turkish gun from WWI, in Manila, NSW. We were traveling from Gunnedah, through a gorgeous countryside, dotted with cattle and the ubiquitous road killed kangaroo. Many people have noted the resemblance to the inner valleys of Southern California, (with different trees, and kangaroos). Roy Eykamp, a few months short of 100 years old, was along for the ride.

Off in the distance, I spotted a white square on a berm. "That looks like a range", I said. "Maybe a thousand yards. Here in Australia, a thousand meters."

Half a mile further along, red flags blowing in the wind made it clear that a shoot was in progress. It was the Nioka range, developed by Matthew Miegel, on the Nioka property.

A muzzleloader club was having a shoot at the range.  They were only too happy to talk to a Yank writer.

One of the peculiarities of the Australian mesh of regulations put in place in 1996, was that pre-1900 muzzleloaders are not considered legal guns, but reproductions are. You may own a pre-1900 antique, but you are not allowed to shoot it without a gun license. Reproductions require licenses to possess, and they must be registered.

The club was having a good time loading and firing muzzleloaders, mostly flintlocks. The range was a full 1000 meters long. The targets were closer for this shoot.

The 1000 meter target will be used in the "Buffalo Shoot" to take place next weekend. The theme of the shoot is a loose recreation of the Adobe Walls battle that occurred in 1874 in the northern panhandle of Texas. During that battle, buffalo hunter William "Billy" Dixon made the famous long range rifle shot that stopped the siege of Adobe Walls.

I was told that one contestant reliably and repeatedly hits the bullseye at 1000 meters with his black powder Sharps rifle and iron sights.

There were battles between Aborigines and European settlers not far from where the range is located. Battles at  Yarramanba (page 23) in 1827 and at Borambil (page 53), in 1828, involved hundreds of Aboriginals against a handful of Europeans armed with muskets. The accounts were not widely circulated at the time. It is not clear exactly where the fighting took place. In the U.S.A., someone might design a Yarramanba shoot, but it may be too politically incorrect for NSW.

A happy result of the current gun amnesty is that one of the shooters was able to register his flintlock pistol. He registered 21 firearms during the current amnesty.

There are plans to have the range certified for pistols in the near future, in conjunction with a pistol club. Membership in a pistol club is necessary for legal ownership of a pistol.


Some historic guns are being turned in for destruction under the ongoing amnesty. You can see an original caplock (third from top, under the old Browning .22 semi-auto, above the rusty 1916 Spanish Mauser). This picture was taken of the back of a police van, as the guns were carted off.

A difference between New South Wales regulation and that of Queensland was pointed out by people who showed me some miniature cannon that met the legal requirements for muzzleloaders in NSW.

In NSW, the cannon must be small, or they are not legal. In Queensland, the cannon have to be big, or they are considered "concealable".

In the United States, in Florida, a pistol must be concealed if you are in a car, and do not have a carry permit. In North Carolina, a pistol carried in a car, without a permit, must be visible.  Australia does not have a monopoly on contradictory laws between states.

While I was interviewing people, the participants learned that Roy Eykamp, Senior, was sitting in our vehicle. Attention quickly shifted to this 99 year old well known farmer, inventor, and producer of Kikuyu seed. 

Matthew Miegel deserves credit for his far thinking development of a 1000 meter range. I heard rumors it might be extended to 1600 meters, almost exactly a mile. There seems to be enough room on the Nioka property.

Australians are adapting to the stringent requirements of the 1996 gun laws. The number of shooters and the number of registered guns, are growing.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

Nioka Range Information link

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The black powder cannons I make are nearly identical to the ones in the pictures you posted. May be I should market mine to NSW.