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Colonial Williamsburg Opens Musket Range

I once had the opportunity to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, VA. I was very young, but what I remember was the feel, the smell and how tiny the inside of the buildings were. It felt like getting a legitimate glimpse into the past.

I had not then ever heard the term Brown Bess, nor did I have any idea I’d ever want to shoot one.

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Fast forward a few years.

Now in addition to the experience of feeling like you’re living in a long ago time, you can take the opportunity to shoot that way. Beginning March 19th, Colonial Williamsburg will offer visitors what they describe as the “…opportunity to learn about and operate the type of firearms that won the Revolutionary War.”

That’s right. They’ve built a musket range.

“The musket range is the first one of its kind and will teach visitors about flintlock weapons by allowing them to fire Brown Bess replicas that reflect the variety manufactured between 1768 and 1804 within a broader category spanning from 1717 and 1815.”

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Here’s the scoop.

The musket range is the first one of its kind and will teach visitors about flintlock weapons by allowing them to fire Brown Bess replicas that reflect the variety manufactured between 1768 and 1804 within a broader category spanning from 1717 and 1815.

Colonial Williamsburg’s educational musket range celebrates its grand opening March 19, for the first time offering Revolutionary City guests an opportunity to learn about and operate the types of firearms that won independence and supported life and livelihood in early America.

Guests learn from costumed interpreters about the history of flintlock weapons, particularly in colonial Virginia, their mechanics, use in hunting and defense, plus safety and proper handling.

“We provide guests an engaging, educational experience that immerses them in the period of our nation’s founding. The educational musket range embodies that, but on an entirely new level,” said Peter Seibert, Colonial Williamsburg director of historic trades and skills. “For decades our guests could learn about these pieces and watch them being operated. Now they can really experience them – the weight, the smell, and the sound – not to mention how challenging their operation was for people whose lives often depended on it.”

Guests will able to prime and fire replicas of two of early America’s most important firearms: a “Brown Bess” British short land service pattern musket and a fowling piece, a precursor of the modern shotgun.

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The range’s Brown Bess replicas reflect the variety manufactured between 1768 and 1804 within a broader category spanning from 1717 and 1815. They are the type of musket used by both British and American soldiers during the American Revolution.

Muzzle-loaded fowling pieces were used to hunt ducks and other waterfowl in Tidewater Virginia and for farmland pest control. Notably, during the period they could be legally owned by free blacks for the latter purpose.

The range is accessible only by ticketed guests via a shuttle from the Williamsburg Lodge. Admission includes instruction, safety equipment firearms, ammunition, and targets.

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To participate, guests must reserve spaces in advance and present photo ID to purchase tickets on-site. Tickets are $119 and are available to guests ages 14 and older. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Additional information is available at Colonial Williamsburg ticketing locations and hospitality properties, online at www.colonialwilliamsburg.com or by calling 855-296-6627.

There’s a short video showing a journalist and his wife trying it out right here.


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