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A Fifty Year Old Kentucky Tradition

By Charles E. Hayes


The interstate flintlock shooting match held Saturday, October 6, 2012, celebrated a 50 year Kentucky tradition. The seed of this tradition was planted when Governor Scranton of Pennsylvania issued the following challenge to Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs:

Take Notice

  • WHEREAS the revered frontiersman Daniel Boone was born on the soils of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and
  • WHEREAS the frontier weapon he helped make famous, the often miscalled Kentucky Rifle and more properly The Pennsylvania Rifle, first was produced by Pennsylvania gunsmiths, and
  • WHEREAS there is doubt concerning the fabled reputation of Kentuckians as marksmen, especially as compared with Pennsylvania Marksmen,
  • NOW THEREFORE as Governor of the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I challenge the Honorable Bert Combs, Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to send Kentucky’s finest marksmen to vie against Pennsylvania Riflemen at the Daniel Boone Homestead, near Reading Pennsylvania, subject to the following conditions;
  • THAT the weapon of competition be the aforementioned Rifle, and
  • THAT match rules be drawn by a joint committee representing each Commonwealth.
  • GIVEN under the HAND of,
  • Bill Scranton
  • June 1963 A.D.

The 1967 Team

What could Governor Scranton been thinking !!?? 

Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton challenged Kentucky to a Kentucky-rifle Flintlock shootout. The thought being that, whichever state won the shooting match, also won the right to attach the name of the state to the long rifle.  That the winner would decide whether the firearm was called a Kentucky Rifle or a Pennsylvania Rifle. Governor Scranton sent eight Pennsylvanians 900 miles, on horseback, from Harrisburg to Frankfort to challenge Kentucky shooters to a match.

Kentucky’s governor, Bert T. Combs, responded immediately. Combs directed Colonel George Chinn of the Kentucky Historical Society to meet the Pennsylvanians and to accept the challenge. Chinn met the Pennsylvanians on the steps of Kentucky's State Capitol.  Chin, with typical Bluegrass State understatement, advised the Keystone State representatives to "notify yer next of kin."

On September 28, 1963, 10 stalwart Kentuckians met 10 Pennsylvanians at the Daniel Boone Homestead near Reading, Pennsylvania. Under sunny skies 10 good men from Kentucky and 10 from Pennsylvania squared off with their flintlock Kentucky rifles...when the black-powder smoke had cleared... the Kentuckians had beaten them by 27 points, 1,129 to 1,102.

The matches did not end there.  There were three more annual Kentucky-Pennsylvania flintlock shooting matches, but the Pennsylvanians never won. Kentucky then opened the competitions to any certified flintlock team representing any state. 

Kentucky has hosted the flintlock competition annually since 1965. Kentucky usually won but has lost the title a few times. This winning tradition is the result of the efforts of the "Kentucky Corps of Longriflemen." 

Each year "Kentucky's Corps of Longriflemen" holds two qualifying shoots, generally open to anyone who fires a flintlock rifle. The 20 riflemen whose average scores are the highest in the two shoots make up two ten man teams. The ten with highest averages become the Long Rifle Corps 1st team. The second ten shooters comprise the second Kentucky Team which is called the "Renegades" of Kentucky.

All contestants participate to test their own ability against severe competition and to honor their state.


Photos by Charles Hayes from various years at the Annual Shoot

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