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Oregon Trails Days Celebrates Tenino’s History

Black Powder Shoot: Event Fires Up Young and Old Alike

By Amy Nile / anile@chronline.com

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If you’re big enough to hold a gun, you can shoot one.

That’s the rule for black powder shooters at Tenino’s Oregon Trails Days, which filled the town with gun smoke and the sound of shots firing Saturday.

This was good news to Aaron Goff, who came to the event from Olympia after studying the Oregon Trail in his fourth-grade class last year.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to shoot a gun,” the 10-year-old said.

The weekend festivities featured several black powder rifle events, including an all women round, a pee-wee shoot and one for those who did not bring a weapon but still wanted to try their hand at firing an old-fashioned gun.

“We love to get people more interested in this sport,” said Doug Simpson, of Rochester.

The 68-year-old said he has been shooting black powder since the 1970s. The slow speed due to having to manually reload the gun before each shot, he said, makes the pace relaxing. Still, he said, he enjoys the friendly competition.

Paul Richardson, of Olympia, said he has been participating in the black powder shooting events for more than 30 years.

“This is the only one I know of that uses the regimen style, just like an Army,” he said.

The veteran sportsman said other events typically have shooters fire at targets in the woods rather than aim at a paper bulls eye in a military-style line of gunmen.

“Real men shoot flintlock,” said Jerry Charlton, of Montesano, as he loaded his custom made black powder rifle.

Charlton and Richardson said they attend the annual event commemorating Tenino’s history every year with a group of friends.

“We were on the original Oregon Trail,” Charlton, 73, joked.

Another shooter, Andrew Michal, of Chehalis, came decked out in authentic western garb, complete with a powder horn, ball and patches.

“It’s been pretty fun,” the 17-year-old said. “We’ve been coming here since we were 5 years old.”

Austin Michal, 13, shot alongside his older brother.

“It’s a left hand shooter because I’m a lefty,” he said, holding out his gun, which weighs about 5 pounds.

In addition to black powder shooting events, Oregon Trails Days featured live music, a car show, the Tenino Farmers Market,a production of “Annie” and a parade.

Heather Padgett came from Eatonville to show off her cowgirl outfit, complete with a miniature horse.

“I love walking him through the parade,” the 16-year-old said. “It gives me an adrenaline rush.”

Traders Row featured various vendors showcasing wares of the Wild West, including buffalo and elk skins, moccasins, guns, metal works and wooden furniture.

Trading, however, has changed since the days of the Oregon Trail. Today, buyers need cash in exchange for items.

Still, Robert Wolf, a vendor from Chehalis, said he had done quite a bit of business at the festival.

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Amy Nile: (360) 807-8235

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