John and Candice Gregorich outside their tent at the 2016 Black Powder Rendezvous near Cache Creek. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Black Powder Rendezvous returns to Cache Creek

The annual event was cancelled in 2017 because of the wildfire.

The South Cariboo Sportsman’s Association (SCSA) fifth annual Black Powder Thanksgiving Rendezvous will be taking place at the gun range near Campbell Hill airport south of Cache Creek from October 4–8, and members of the public are invited to come watch the different events.

“Black powder” refers to the fact that participants use weapons that were current in the early- to mid-nineteenth century, such as muskets. They also dress accordingly, donning the costumes of fur traders and mountain men and women. Some even go so far as to sleep under canvas at the events they attend, called rendezvous.

“We really encourage spectators,” says Ken Brown, SCSA vice-president. “Everyone dresses up and goes the whole nine yards.”

Last year’s rendezvous had to be cancelled after many of the range’s facilities were destroyed during the Elephant Hill wildfire. Brown says that club members and volunteers have worked hard over the summer, rebuilding the black powder facilities and fixing it all up.

The rendezvous features hawk and knife (tomahawk- and knife-throwing) events, a Quigley shoot, black powder trap shooting, and pistol and rifle shooting. There are also archery events featuring traditional wooden bows with no sights.

“They’re all wooden bows with wooden arrows,” says Brown. “A modern compound bow will cost between $500 and $1,000 to rig out, but wooden bows start at around $300. And it’s nice to introduce people to the true way of shooting with a bow and arrow.”

He adds that all the events at the Black Powder Rendezvous have a junior category for those aged 10 to 17 years. “We really encourage younger people, and try to promote it to them, but the enthusiasm has gone out of it. Modern-day firearms are easier to load. But if anyone wants to learn about black powder shooting, they can contact me. I have black powder firearms, and they can come up to the range and try them out.”

Brown attributes his interest in black powder to the 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson, which starred Robert Redford as a character based on legendary mountain man John Jeremiah Johnson (1824–1900). When Redford was in Ashcroft filming the 2005 movie An Unfinished Life, Brown introduced himself to the actor and they had a coffee together.

“I said ‘Sir’, and he said ‘My name’s Robert.’ I told him ‘You got me involved with black powder. Because of you I shoot black powder.’ The movie fired my interest. I use [black powder] firearms, and try to teach others.”

Brown says that it costs $50 to take part in the Black Powder Rendezvous, with participants starting to arrive on Thursday (October 4), and the events taking place on Saturday and Sunday (October 6 and 7). About three dozen people take part in the annual event, with participants coming from as far away as Prince George and Fort McMurray.

There is no charge to watch the events, and Brown says that spectators are welcome. “Come and visit, and see what it’s about. People will allow you to use their firearms if you want.”

For more information about the Black Powder Thanksgiving Rendezvous, contact Brown at (250) 453-9415.

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