Gun, history buffs team up for fundraiser

MARIETTA – Gun and history enthusiasts joined forces on Saturday for the fourth annual Contemporary Gunmakers and Allied Artists Show at Campus Martius Museum.

“This is our fourth year and it’s going great,” said organizer Bill Reynolds. “The demonstrators are doing well, the artisans are getting to talk about their work and the collectors are learning about what they love.”

The number of people who attended the event, in which all proceeds were donated to the Friends of the Museums, was unknown, but Reynolds said people went through the display tables and attended the lectures and demonstrations throughout the day.

“This is my second year coming to this event and I think it’s great,” said Richard Green, of Marietta. “Not only do I get to see the wonderful rifles, but I also get to show off my Marietta rifle.”

Green brought his replica of an early Marietta long rifle with a plethora of silver inlay designs.

“Marietta rifles are beautiful and flashy, like the city,” he laughed.

Gary Milligan attended the program from Sunbury, Ohio, in hopes of finding a rifle to do an impression of Ohio squirrel hunters, a group of Civil War-era farmers’ militia.

“I’m a Civil War buff and re-enactor and I am looking to buy a rifle to match what the actual men used to fight Confederates,” Milligan said. “Not only that, but this is just a great event.”

On display and sale at the event were traditionally-made muzzle loading rifles, powder horns, hunting bags, knives and related objects fashioned by hand by the artisans.

One of the most popular demonstrations of the event was Bill Hoover, of Orville, Ohio, who drew crowds for his barrel rifling show. Rifling involves cutting spiral grooves inside a rifle barrel to enable a bullet to spin and gain better accuracy and distance.

Hoover demonstrated 18th and 19th Century hand rifling throughout the day as crowds asked questions and took photos.

“This is the first time we have had this special feature and it’s really great,” Reynolds said. “Usually you have to go to Colonial Williamsburg to see a demonstration like this, but we were very lucky to have Bill Hoover come and show this almost lost art.”

Reynolds, who is a founding member of the Association of Ohio Long Rifle Collectors, said the event was organized, in part, as a way to show people that rifle-making is a large part of the history of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“Having this event allows people to see examples of the last 200 years of American gun-making tradition,” Reynolds said. “The Mid-Ohio Valley has been a home to gun and riflesmiths since the first settlers arrived.”

The displays housed the guns, which ranged in styles from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War and beyond.

“This is really a way to show that the tradition is still alive and to honor those who made the guns before us,” Reynolds, who is also a riflesmith, said. “The people here today are keeping these traditions alive.”