Rod and Gun club crowns black powder champs in a cloud of smoke

Ned Casey of Edgartown takes a shot on his way to victory in the modern category at the Rod and Gun club's black powder shoot Sunday, scoring 19 out of 20. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun club crowned the 2014 black powder shoot winners in three categories of competition Sunday, all marked by thunderous booms and white clouds of smoke. The contest took place on the club grounds overlooking Sengekontacket Pond on the eve of the muzzle-loader deer hunting season that began one half hour before sunrise on Monday and will end one half hour after sunset on December 31.

Muzzle-loaders require hunters to load powder and bullet down the muzzle of the rifle. Firing systems range from a piece of flint to a shotgun shell primer cap. Rifles range from Civil War era and earlier rifles to modern rifles with scopes. The common element is one shot.

Under fine weather conditions, a small group of black powder enthusiasts competed for top prizes shooting at a standing deer target, a bull’s-eye target and a timed shoot-reload-shoot contest. Top honors went to Ladi Navratil of Vineyard Haven who won the primitive firearms category title again this year. Ned Casey of Edgartown repeated his 2013 effort and captured the modern firearm title.

The club presented the Bill Nicholson Award to Nelson Sigelman of Vineyard Haven, who used a Pennsylvania flintlock, similar in most respects to the type of weapon carried by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark, leaders of the Corps of Discovery, during their hazard-filled journey to the Pacific northwest and back between 1803 and 1806.

This plaque has been presented each year since 2007 to the outstanding participant of the shoot in memory of Civil War and primitive firearm enthusiast Bill Nicholson of Oak Bluffs, who died in October 2007.