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Western National Shoot muzzleloader event this weekend near Phoenix

Cannon demonstration from a previous event at the Ben Avery Shooting Complex.

Those in the Phoenix area this weekend might want to check out the Western National Shoot, a National Muzzle Loading Rifle Assn. competition taking place through Sunday (the awards ceremony is Monday morning) at the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Ben Avery Shooting Facility, located 25 miles north of Phoenix.

It may seem as though frontier history has come back to life, because many of the participants and attendees dress in period clothing while competing in primitive archery, black powder muzzleloader shooting, and tomahawk and knife throwing. Plus, there will be demonstrations, including the firing of old-style, smoke-belching cannons.

San Diego County Muzzle Loading will have its popular "Turkey Shoot" machine. No actual turkeys are harmed -- shooters have to "call" a turkey, and if they are convincing enough, up pops a turkey head target for them to shoot at.

Besides the competitions, there are plenty of things to see, do and eat, including an area called "Traders Row," where period clothing, toys and vintage firearms are available for purchase. As for vittles, hungry folks have culinary choices ranging from hot dogs to mountain man stew.

Events begin each day at 8 a.m. Admission is free, though there is a fee for parking.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A cannon demonstration from a previous event at the Ben Avery Shooting Complex. Credit: Rory Aikens / Arizona Game and Fish Department

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.