The Southern Shooting Center is located on Highway 3185 just outside of Thibodaux, La., and offers up to 300-yard rifle ranges and 30 cemented benches.

Walk-on shooters are accepted for use of the various shotgun, rifle and pistol ranges, and are invited to attend matches as guests and participants.

Many of the pistol ranges offer reactive targets for IPSC-style practice, and monthly matches are held on the numerous ranges in dozens of different disciplines.

March through November, there is a regular Tuesday night Practical Pistol Match with a money payback. Year-round Cowboy Action Shooting matches are held on the first Saturday of each month.

This little-known world-class shooting facility was the host of the 63rd-annual Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association conference shooting event on Oct. 18.

While the group of writers gave an amazingly inept demonstration of shotgun skills at sporting clays, Mike Mattly, marketing manager of Knight Rifles, set up a demonstration of the KP-1 muzzleloaders and the new KP-1 "Wurfflein" style of single-shot rifles.

Knight, of course, is famous for interchangeable systems on its "tip-up" rifles, which offer quick barrel changes - from muzzleloader to centerfire to rimfire calibers with different sighting options.

Mattly set up the new KP-1 muzzleloader, a handsome rifle with stainless Green Mountain barrels and laminated stocks, and the black KP-1 "Wurfflein" firing .45-70 - legal fodder during Louisiana's new primitive-weapons season.

"When Mississippi was considering choices of rifles to allow during their new, proposed primitive weapons season, which would replace the old muzzleloader season, we came down with our KP-1 in the Wurfflein design, and explained that with the exception of an adjustable trigger and installation of a transfer-bar safety system, our design was an exact copy of the rifles that were manufactured and sold in Philadelphia beginning in the 1880s," he said. "And of course, the round has been around since before 1900, which was the cutoff point for rifle design and bullet caliber. The board considering the designs for the game commission surprised us: They accepted the gun immediately on the primitive firearms list.

"Now, Louisiana has followed suit with Mississippi, and we are accepted as a primitive weapon during Louisiana's season."

The .45-70 was originally utilized as a rifle caliber by the U.S. Army in the 1870s during the early design years of metallic cartridges. The numbers stood for a .45-caliber bullet propelled by 70 grains of black powder.

The cartridge also proved to be a boon to the meat hunters who practically decimated the massive bison herds of the Great Plains during the push to build the intercontinental railroad.

Both rifles carry accuracy guarantees, and are capable of minute-of-angle (grouping within one inch at 100 yards), but even with the extreme accuracy of both of these rifles, it was more of a thrill for the writers to shoot high-quality modern firearms propelling projectiles that had been used for well over 100 years as hunting and military rounds. In the example of the muzzleloader, that number of years could be doubled.

The Knight KP-1 rifles are accurate and exceptionally high-quality shooting systems that hearken back to days when a hunter had to make his shot count because that was likely the only shot he would get. Today, many hunters opt for the simplicity and reminiscence of hunting with one of these "primitive" firearms, evoking a connection with history and the shooters who carved this country from wilderness.

Following Mississippi's lead, Louisiana has brought a new class of rifles into what is now known as the state's Primitive Weapons Season. The basic changes are approved breechloaders that have been added to the list of muzzleloading rifles and shotguns that were legal in the former muzzleloader season.

A period of 12-14 days in each of the state's eight whitetail deer areas now allows hunters to hunt not only with approved muzzleloaders but with specific models of breechloaders. The general criteria is the design of the gun and the ammunition had to have been in use before 1900.

The list of approved breechloading rifles is as follows:

Sharps rifles or replicas

Remington Rolling Block rifles or replicas

Ballard rifles

Maynard rifles or carbines

Burnside carbines

Frank Wesson rifles

Farrow rifles

Remington Hepburn rifles

M1873-1888 Springfield Trapdoor rifles and carbines and replicas

Snider (British) rifles and replicas

Wesson & Harrington 1871 rifles

New England Firearms or Harrington & Richardson Handi rifles in caliber larger than .38

Winchester M1885 Hi Wall or Lo Wall rifles or replicas (also Browning B78 or 1885) .38 caliber or larger

Knight KP-1 "Wurfflein" in caliber .38 or larger

CVA Optima Elite in caliber .38 or larger

Traditions Pursuit break-open single shot in .38 caliber or larger

 

Gordon Hutchinson's newest book, written with Todd Masson, is The Great New Orleans Gun Grab, a searing expose' of the scandal of gun confiscations in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is available online at www.neworleansgungrab.com.

Hutchinson's first book, The Quest and the Quarry, is a generational tale of a line of trophy bucks and the youth of a farming family that hunts them. It is available online at www.thequestandthequarry.com.

Both books have been chosen Outdoor Books of the Year by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, and are available from the publisher by calling (800) 538-4355.