Bullhook Bottoms Black powder Club
    To Celebrate 31st Annual Spring Shoot and Rendezvous

    A bi-product of the 1976 US Bicentennial celebrations, the Bullhook Bottoms Black Powder Club was created out of
    the general interest of a few individuals who had an interest in muzzleloading rifles and associated activities.
    During the Bicentennial year great interest was renewed for the sport of black powder rifles and shooting with many
    novices purchasing rifles and pistols of all types, searching for a link to their ancestors’ means of hunting and

    The father and charter president of the Bullhook Bottoms Black Powder Club was Gary Livesay, along with Bob
    Doney, Rick Lieberg and Dick Hanson are the remaining charter members of the club. Todays membership stands
    at 50, with half this count living in or around Havre. The remainder includes members who have moved out of the
    area, but maintain their membership or joined the club from outside the Havre area. The present membership
    encompasses four states and two Canadian provinces.

    The bylaws of the club placed the promotion of muzzleloading interests, shooting, safety, education and
    tradition as the top priorities of the organization.

    The interests and traditional side of the organization are far reaching in so much as there are Revolutionary War,
    Civil War, Mountain man era and frontier period interests represented in the club with costume, rifles and
    associated paraphernalia.

    The promotion of safety and education has always been the number one priority of the Bullhook Bottoms Black
    Powder Club. Working not only with new muzzleloaders but also with the Montana Hunter’s Safety Program and the
    4-H Shooters Program to demonstrate the safe and proper way to load, handle and shoot muzzleloaders. It has
    been through this dedication that the club has been able to help many new and young shooters maintain an
    interest in muzzleloading and provide them with the help and encouragement to keep them involved in the sport.

    The shooting aspect of the club began with the first organized shoot being held on March 13, 1977, in the
    Badlands along the Milk River northwest of Havre. Since that early match, organized shoots have been held on a
    monthly basis for 32 years.

    In 1979, the first rendezvous and shoot was held along the Milk River below Fresno Dam. This gathering was
    primarily the local members with a few out of area guests present. In 1980, a larger scale gathering was held at the
    new Hill County Shooting Range which drew shooters from all over northern Montana. The event was promoted
    as a one-day event filled with numerous squadded matches and a number of reentry fun matches.

    Following the tremendous success of the 1980 invitational match, Bullhook Bottoms Black Powder Club members
    decided that it was time to pick a good date and location and get its name on the shoot circuit schedule. Memorial
    Day weekend became the date and by luck and considerable paperwork, historic Fort Assinniboine became the
    home of the Annual Spring Shoot and Rendezvous location.

    Fort Assinniboine, which has been the spring shoot location for 29 years, offers a beautiful shooting area, plenty
    of camping space for both primitive and tin tepees in a little valley above the fort along Beaver Creek. This is an
    area in which one could close his eyes and reminisce about the activities of the past such as a troop of cavalry
    moving south along Beaver Creek on patrol; several hundred head of horses around the barns; a band of
    Chippewa Cree proceeding to the fort from Rocky Boy’s Reservation; a trade’s wagon coming out from Bullhook
    Bottoms (Havre) to the post and if you listen just long enough you can even hear the report of rifle fire on the post
    range to the north or the faint sound of bugle call for reveille, retreat or taps. What more could buck skinners ask
    for than a historic military outpost, the last established in Montana, where the likes of General Pershing (then
    Lieutenant) served with the 10th Cavalry?

    The spring shoot was expanded from one day to three days, offering a variety of activities for all muzzleloaders
    and their families. The event not only offers the traditional paper target matches of varying distances and shooting
    positions for men, women and children, but also includes a full primitive match event with 22 different targets; a
    long range 5-shot black powder cartridge match; several fun matches for shooters of all ages; a timed 12 shot,
    four distance silhouette match (the one event that spectators enjoy because they can see something fall down
    when it is hit); fire starting/pancake cooking contest and knife and hawk contest. Tucked into all of these activities
    is a Saturday night dinner served by the members and wives of the club for all registered shooters and families.
    The dinners have ranged from wild game stew, to hamburger and hot dogs to smoked turkey complimented by
    various salads, side dishes and desserts.

    With the expanded activities for the spring shoot came an increased financial burden which included higher
    insurance rates and more prizes. Hence the club became involved in a number of raffles and fund raisers to offset
    the costs of top quality prizes and high priced insurance and keep the club financially sound without pricing the
    muzzleloading sport out of the reach of anyone who wanted to participate.

    In the mid 80’s in a search for new prizes for the various matches, it was decided that a pewter medallion of the
    club logo would be cast and mounted on an original slate shingle retrieved from Fort Assinniboine to be given for
    first place in each event. These slates have become the most coveted prize in the area because of their very
    unique historic value and original look.

    In 1982, several club members decided that BBBPC needed a cannon to add to its arsenal. Using a piece of oil
    well drill stem for the barrel, a lot of metal work, turning and engineering the job was completed with a very
    authentic 1857 replica of a 3-pound cannon. Originally the projectile for the cannon was Pepsi cans filled with
    plaster of paris which were fine for show, but presented little accuracy in so much as the aluminum
    would peel off before it hit the target or simply disintegrate. The reason Pepsi cans were used was because the
    engineers on the project were Pepsi drinkers and the barrel diameter ended up just the size of a Pepsi can when
    they decided to quit drilling. The problem with the can projectile was discouraging to say the least, but continued to
    be used until Pepsi changed can diameter size which prompted the club to invest in a 3-pound fishing weight
    mould and began casting cannon balls out of wheel weights. These cannon balls when patched with blue jean
    denim worked very well and brought some accuracy to the artillery piece.

    It was learned early on that shooting grape shot (a mixture of different size lead balls, a practice used during the
    Civil War) was not good for the cannon nor anyone around it. Tried only once, the firing of the grape shot load
    sent the cannon cascading backwards as fast as one could run, the massive impact of shot down range covered
    the entire area, demonstrating what was used in the Civil War was very effective against the enemy. Problem
    being, the shot fired, broke the axle on the carriage which had to be repaired before the cannon could be fired

    The cannon has been the talk of Havre during many Festival Day Parades and at home football games, when it
    was fired with powder only for the boom effect. The club has been banned from firing it at football games due to
    complaints from residences living close to the football field. It is still used at the spring shoot to start the weekend
    matches and is usually fired on numerous times during the weekend when there is a lull in the activities and a
    number of spectators are around.

    The Bullhook Bottoms Black Powder Club had the distinct honor of hosting the 1989 and 1990 Montana-Idaho
    Territorial Shoots. The 1989 matches were held in Beaver Creek Park (by permit only) in conjunction with the week
    long Montana State Centennial Celebration being held in Havre. The club was given the honor of kicking off the
    celebration with a hefty cannon report from the Burlington Northern depot area as the Centennial train made its
    first run to Big Sandy.

    In 1996, the club decided to host an annual one day long range shoot to offer shooters of both modern and
    antique rifles a chance to try their hand at shooting 100 yards to 1000 yards. The general interest in black powder
    cartridge rifles had grown within the club and a need was seen to offer some special type of activity for these
    shooters in the area, yet encompass both types of rifles. This event has proven very successful and quite
    interesting for those who have claimed to have made 1000 yard shots.

    The general overall success of the club can be attributed to the fact that the founders of the organization were
    very explicit in keeping the club a family orientated organization, paying particular attention to providing activities
    for the entire family at all of the scheduled events.

    Bullhook Bottoms Black Powder Club still maintains its primary purpose of muzzleloading shooting, education and
    related activities, but has entered into the service club side in the community in a number of areas including
    adopting a highway both on US Highway 2 west of Havre for two miles and a one mile stretch in Beaver Creek
    Park. The club has also given financial aid to various shooting programs in the community, plus donations to the
    community food banks, Havre-Hill County Library, Great Northern Fair Grounds and other worthy causes. BBBPC
    has definitely made a good impression on the community and is well known for its various activities and is sought
    out to aid in school history study and various other presentations.

    Bullhook Bottoms Black Powder Club will hold its 31st Annual Spring Shoot and Rendezvous at Fort Assinniboine
    south of Havre Memorial Day weekend, May 29-30-31, 2010. The weekend activities are open to all shooters,
    families, traders and visitors. Saturday night dinner will once again be served to all registered shooters and their

    -Jim “Hats” Griggs
Jim "Hats" Griggs