Colonial Williamsburg Musket Range to Open March 19

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An interpreter fires a replica "Brown Bess” musket like those used in the American Revolution. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
An interpreter fires a replica “Brown Bess” musket like those used in the American Revolution. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

Guests at Colonial Williamsburg will soon have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the types of firearms that won the American Revolution.

Colonial Williamsburg’s musket range is celebrating its grand opening March 19, and visitors will have the opportunity to operate a firearm under the instruction of a costumed expert for the first time in the living history museum’s history.

“For decades our guests could learn about these pieces and watch them being operated,” said Peter Seibert, Colonial Williamsburg director of historic trades and skills. “Now they can really experience them – the weight, the smell, and the sound – not to mention how challenging their operation was for people whose lives often depended on it.”

Costumed interpreters will inform guests about the history, mechanics, safe handling and uses of flintlock weapons in colonial Virginia.

As for the hands-on portion of the program, guests can prime and fire two of early America’s most important firearms: a fowling piece shotgun and a “Brown Bess” musket.

Fowling pieces were “used to hunt ducks and other waterfowl in Tidewater Virginia and for farmland pest control,” according to a recent news release from Colonial Williamsburg. These particular guns are also noteworthy because free blacks could legally own them during the colonial period.

The Brown Bess replicas that can be found at the range “reflect the variety manufactured between 1768 and 1804” and closely approximate the weapon of choice for both American and British soldiers in the American Revolution.

Visitors to the range, which is accessible only by ticketed guests via a shuttle from the Williamsburg Lodge, will be able operate both types of gun replicas.

“We provide guests an engaging, educational experience that immerses them in the period of our nation’s founding,” Seibert said. “The educational musket range embodies that, but on an entirely new level.”

Tickets are $119 each and are available to guests ages 14 and older. A parent or guardian must accompany children under 18.

Admission to the musket range includes instruction, safety equipment firearms, ammunition, and targets. To participate, guests must reserve spaces in advance and present photo ID to purchase tickets on-site. Click here for more information.