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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow GRANDE RONDE RENDEZVOUS

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GRANDE RONDE RENDEZVOUS

BLAST INTO THE PAST: Blast Into The Past: Ray Creson of La Grande fires at a target Sunday during the Grande Ronde Muzzleloader Black Powder Rendezvous at the La Grande Rifle and Pistol Club near Starkey. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
BLAST INTO THE PAST: Blast Into The Past: Ray Creson of La Grande fires at a target Sunday during the Grande Ronde Muzzleloader Black Powder Rendezvous at the La Grande Rifle and Pistol Club near Starkey. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Did the legendary frontiersmen Daniel Boone ever visit Northeast Oregon?

Probably not, although there is evidence supporting this theory.

Regardless, Boone was revered for his skill with a muzzleloader. He and his favorite rifle, Tick-Licker, would have fit right in this weekend at a popular annual black powder shoot west of La Grande. The event was the Grande Ronde Muzzleloader Labor Day Black Powder Rendezvous.

Muzzleloaders of all ability levels from throughout the Northwest tested their skills at the La Grande Rifle and Pistol Club between Hilgard State Park and Starkey.

It was a weekend filled not only with skilled shooting but also tall tales.

Art Creson of La Grande said that the stories people share at muzzleloader shoots are always a highlight.

"(The participants) tell big stories. That is a requirement — you have to tell big stories,'' Creson said.

"The truth is not allowed,'' chimed in Art's son, Ray, also of La Grande.

Art and Ray have been participating in muzzleloader shooting events for about 25 years. They were joined by other family members at this weekend's shoot.

Art Creson said that the camaraderie among black powder enthusiasts is remarkable.

"These are the finest people to be around,'' he said.

Rendezvous participants tested their skills in a number of events. They received points based on how well they:

• shot at metal targets of animals from distances of 35 to 150 meters on a shooting range.

• shot at targets at distances of 30 to 125 meters on a trail walk.

• hit targets with knives and tomahawks during a trail walk.

Participants also received points for wearing frontier-era clothing during the trail walk.

In addition to the fine points of using muzzleloaders, there was talk of what life was like on the American frontier in the 1700s and 1800s. Many of those participating in this weekend's shoot have an exceptional understanding of what life was like in the era. It was a life of hardships people today do not know.

"It makes you see how tough these people were,'' said Trish Masters of Florida.

Masters and her husband, Patrick, have participated in the Grande Ronde Rendezvous for three years. They live in a recreational vehicle year-round and enjoy traveling to events throughout the United States. They started participating in rendezvous events several years ago. They said it's easy to fit in quickly with any rendezvous group.

At muzzleloader events relatively few shots are fired because the process of reloading takes 20 seconds to a minute or more depending on one's skill level.

"It is not expensive after you make the initial investment,'' Trish Masters said.

People of the pioneer era had close-knit families. Today's muzzleloading events are family oriented as well.

"I've been competing in shooting sports for 20 years and this is the most family oriented (of the shooting sports),'' said Lee Sancoy of La Grande.

The Grande Ronde Rendezvous has been conducted each Labor Day Weekend for about 30 years.

This weekend's rendezvous was a blanket shoot, meaning that all participants were encouraged to bring one prize to donate. At the end of the competition the winner could pick from any of the donated prizes. Next, the second-place finisher could select a prize. This continued until all of the 100 donated prizes were selected.

A total of 112 participated in the rendezvous. The turnout was higher than it has been in recent years. One reason is that a major muzzleloader shoot annually conducted in Seattle during Labor Day Weekend was canceled. Many people from Western Washington came to Union County to participate in this shoot instead, said Dave Bingner of La Grande.

Bingner and Darrel Plank of La Grande were two of the primary organizers of the three-day shoot.

The event was put on by the La Grande Rifle and Pistol Club. Many of the participants camped at the site.

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