The National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) began in 1933 as an association pursuing the active continued use and appreciation of the history of muzzle loading firearms. The Association headquarters are located in a beautiful valley in southern Indiana, Ripley County, next to the village of Friendship. Twice a year, June and September, the valley echoes with hundreds of distinctive sounding black powder gunshot reports. Thousands of men, women and youths register and compete in a wide variety of contests and events.
The NMLRA has grown tremendously over the decades. When I first came to the shoot with my dad back in 1958 you could stand in the middle of the campground, throw a rock and not hit anyone. Now twice a year hundreds of campers pull into the grounds, in addition to many trailers that remain here year round. The whole valley fills, not only with participants in the shoots, but also two separate and unrelated large flea markets.
Friendship NMLRA shoots are a wonderful piece of Americana, filled with characters of all kinds, history buffs, and craftsmanship you would not expect to still exist. Yes, you can find gunmakers working on fine rifles and pistols. You can also watch impressive feats of marksmanship, both with black powder firearms, bows and arrows, tomahawks and other wilderness weapons. We were there just before the Fall Shoot began.