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National Range Day comes to Port Alberni with period costumes, weapons

Saturday was National Range Day, which recognizes the use of legal firearms and celebrates sports, such as skeet shooting target practice.

On Vancouver Island, the day was recognized in Port Alberni with a bit of a twist. Participants were draped in period costumes and were firing off black powder.

"Well, it's National Range Day across Canada, and so we open up our range to invite people to see what we do," said Kerry Young, second vice president of West Coast Rangers.

Members of the West Coast Rangers invited the public to try their hand at "black powder shooting," a sport Young says is perfect for families.

"My wife's a shooter, been doing it since we've been together, forever, and of course my son started out," he said.

"Now he's instructing people, and my daughter, she shoots, and all the families that come out here – we're like one big family, basically," said Young.

Most of the visitors that came to the range on Saturday had never held a weapon before.

Some, however, like Renee Sware, had some experience.

"I think it's more exhilarating than I thought," she said.

"I've only done like a .22 sort of rifle, and yeah, that [bang], wow," she said, laughing.

But the day was far more than just shooting. Period music and timely costumes transported visitors into the past, where they could take a look at 1860s-style living.

"It is quite luxurious," said West Coast Ranger member Nancy Henderson said about the tents and decorations.

"It's a lot of effort getting all the poles cut down and learning all the skills, even how to tie everything up was a bit of an ordeal," she said.

Nancy Henderson is shown outside her tent. (CTV News)Henderson set up her camp to be as authentic as possible.

"I like doing things the way they were done in the past because it is a reliable way to go about doing it, and you don't have to depend on other people to do it for you," she said.

Moseying through the village you'll never know what you'll come across, like Paul Wagner's working cannon.

"This is actually a replica of a Napoleon cannon, which was one of the most accurate cannons they ever made during the Napoleon wars," said Wagner. "This is a 1/3 scale model."

The cannon is shown. (CTV News)However, modern government regulations prohibit what the cannon can shoot.

"Now that we're not allowed to shoot lead, we shoot oranges and they fly just as good," he said with a laugh.

Club members welcome others to take part in their lifestyle and encourage anyone interested to look for the closest "blackpowder" group near them. Top Stories

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