Spring Break is coming up, and summer vacation is going to follow upon its heels faster than you think. Clearly, it's not too soon to start thinking about where to take the family for vacation this year. If you're looking for a fun, family-friendly and educational experience, look no further than Colonial Williamsburg. Although you've no doubt heard of the living-history community that is the "Revolutionary City," but this year they've added a new attraction perfect for the outdoors family: their Educational Musket Range. Beginning this March 19, visitors will learn about and get to operate fllintlock firearms just like the ones used to win the Revolutionary War, and to support day-to-day life in the fledgling colonies.
The experience will begin with costumed interpreters who will teach visitors about safety and proper handling, then provide the context of the history of these flintlock weapons, including their mechanics, use in hunting and defense. Guests will then be able to prime and fire replicas of two of early America’s most important firearms: a “Brown Bess” British short land service pattern musket and a fowling piece, a precursor of the modern shotgun. The range’s Brown Bess replicas reflect the variety manufactured between 1768 and 1804 within a broader category spanning from 1717 and 1815. They are the type of musket used by both British and American soldiers during the American Revolution. Muzzle-loaded fowling pieces were used to hunt ducks and other waterfowl in Tidewater Virginia and for farmland pest control. Interestingly, during the period they could be legally owned by free blacks for the latter purpose.
“We provide guests an engaging, educational experience that immerses them in the period of our nation’s founding. The educational musket range embodies that, but on an entirely new level,” said Peter Seibert, Colonial Williamsburg director of historic trades and skills. “For decades our guests could learn about these pieces and watch them being operated. 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.”
The range is accessible only by ticketed guests via a shuttle from the Williamsburg Lodge. Admission 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. Tickets are $119 and are available to guests ages 14 and older. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Additional information is available at Colonial Williamsburg ticketing locations and hospitality properties, online at www.colonialwilliamsburg.com or by calling (855) 296-6627.