Blackpowder Overview

We are the Black Powder group here at WWCCA and we’d like to welcome you to the Club.

We encourage you to attend the various meetings and get involved in all the activities available here at the club. Get to know people and ask questions. That’s the best way to navigate around and enjoy the place. If you don’t feel comfortable participating yet, then just come out and watch how things are done. Eventually you will get to know people and realize we’re all here for one main purpose…to have fun!!!

Our particular group, the Tonquish Muzzlerloaders of WWCCA, have our monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month, at 7:30 p.m. Open to members you are encouraged to come out and introduce yourself. We are very eager to share our hobby with anyone who may be curious, so come on by! Our shoots consist of a monthly “walkthru” which is a variety of targets we’ve set up in the woods beyond the wall along the 200 yard range. The entrance to the walkthru is at the very southeast corner of the 200 yard range parking area. There is a sign marking the entrance. These walkthru’s are usually the first Sunday of every month, depending on our event schedule for that month, and usually at 10:00 a.m. However, read your “Clubhouse Window” to make sure as these dates change on occasion depending on our schedule. We also shoot sometimes on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

We hold to major Rendezvous’ every year here at the Club. The big one is the annual “Labor Day Weekend Rendezvous”, which is the largest primitive Rendezvous held in the state of Michigan. The other one is “The Wintering” held on the last full weekend of January. A much smaller affair but every bit as enjoyable as the other. We sometimes have a small campout on Memorial Day weekend, and sometimes also on the July 4th weekend, and these are very relaxing events as well.

Our Chairman is Greg “Shortcut” Baack. His phone number is on page 2 of your Clubhouse Window newsletter. We also have an event coordinator of Blackpowder activities and her name is Roxanna “Style-n-Grace” Maddox. Her number is also on page 2.

See below to see what it is that we do!!!


Blackpowder Monthly Article

Black Powder Trails (February)

The four words I would chose to describe him would be hero/teacher/buckskinner/friend.  I am speaking of Mike Mcelheran.  Mic, as we knew him by, passed away on December 14 at Karmanos Cancer Institute.  Another life, full of stories, gone.

 I do not use hero lightly but I might not use it the way you do.  I think anyone that serves in the armed forces of the United States is a hero, especially if he serves during war time, and especially if during that service his life is in danger due to that service.  That was Mic.  He served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.  On July 29, 1967, while serving on the USS Forrestal (an aircraft carrier), he helped fight one of the worse fires ever aboard a US Navy ship.


5,500 sailors on board.  In the 18 hours it took to put the fire out 161 would be seriously injured and 134 would die.  Like soldiers do when they talk about war Mic would get that look in his eyes as he told me of the friends he had that died and were injured.  He did not readily share the story with anyone.  You had to go digging for it.  It was hard for me to grasp why the metal ship would burn.  I understood that spilled fuel from the planes would.  And that the explosions from the ordinance would.  But until he shared the story I never realized that the paint on the metal walls, layers of it from every time it would be repainted, would burn.  At one point half of the aircraft carrier was on fire.  Not just on deck but on the decks below as well.  The fire is still studied by sailors today as it provided important lessons.  So Mic is a hero, not just because he survived, but for all he did to help others survive that fire.  I will always cherish listening to the stories Mic told about his service in the Navy.


As for teacher Mic was one of the first WWCCA members that reached out to welcome me to the club.  He was ready, able and most importantly willing to help me learn to shoot blackpowder and anything else I might want to venture into.  I soon found him a wonderful source of information about the club and about shooting.  He was the one I went to because I wanted to build a blackpowder rifle.  That conversation led to the creation of what we call “the never-ending gun class”.  We still meet on Thursday nights.  It was Mic that got Tony Mazaitis to co-teach the program.  The two of them have successfully taught almost a dozen and a half WWCCA members how to build rifles.  All of our mistakes, and some were whoppers, were always met by stories from Mic of when he had done worse.  And he always followed up with showing us how to fix them.  And fix them so that only a very practiced eye could spot the mistakes.


On the Thursday after his death, without any kind of call out, most of those students came to class.  Men being men it took a little while before we all acknowledged why we came.  We came to remember, and in a way to honor, our fallen brother.  We will always cherish the knowledge and stories he so readily shared.


 He was one of the core members of the buckskinners.  He had started early.  His wife Kathy is still buckskinning with us.  Between Mic and Kathy there was not an aspect of our hobby they could not teach you about.  And the stories they could tell of the early days of the blackpowder club were delightful.  His children grew up and got married with us.  His grandchildren still grace us occasionally, now that they are teenagers and have other lives, with their presence at our events.  They still shoot well.  One day I suspect we will have to teach them how to build blackpowder rifles.  We owe that to Mic.  It’s part of the circle of life.  And while we teach them we will tell them stories about Mic and the stories he shared with us.  And while we are thinking of his family, you might want to say a prayer for Kathy, the kids and the grandkids.


He was a friend.  As I said he was one of the first at WWCCA to greet me, to welcome me, and to ask if he could help in anyway.  That help was never limited to his discipline.  He was always willing to help in any way he could.  He was a shining example of what a WWCCA member should be for newcomers to the club.

Over the years we spent a lot of time here at the club, at buckskinning events in Michigan and other states, on special trips he and I would take with anyone else in the club who wanted to come, and while meeting for dinners or lunch.  We even spent days just visiting garage sales in the area.

I will miss him dearly, as will the others in blackpowder club.  The date has not been determined yet but I suspect that we will wake him as some point and hoist a few for him and tell stories, his and ours.  So as not to forget the life stories he made.

We have a lot of people like Mic at this club.  Lives filled with stories who are willing to share what they know and just chat about their lives.  This year each of us should take the time to locate two new people in the club.  Someone who could teach and share with us and someone who we could teach and share with.  If we all did that it would put a smile on Mic’s face.  It would also make this one great place to be.

Mic would not want me to forget to tell you that we have our walkthrough on Feb 3, our usual monthly meeting on the Feb. 14th and our weekly gun building class every Thursday.  He would also want me to remind you that the Kalamazoo Living History Show is March 16 and 17.  If you like early American history you should not miss this show.

In the spirit of Scribe, who would tell you to “keep your powder dry and your eye on the horizon”,