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Loading or charging a muzzleloading firearm presents some special concerns because it requires the muzzle to be pointed upward.

For rifles, position the butt on the ground between your feet. You should be facing the underside of the barrel. The muzzle should be pointed upward and away from your body. Never work directly over the muzzle.

Determine if the gun is already loaded by checking the barrel with a marked ramrod, which has an “unloaded” or empty marking. If you aren’t sure, consult an experienced muzzleloader user or gunsmith.

Always load a muzzleloader with muzzle pointed away from your body

Measure out the proper amount and type of powder using the calibrated powder measure. Replace the powder flask’s cap, and swing the flask to the other side of your body. Pour the powder into the barrel from the measure. Tap the barrel to make sure all powder falls to the breech end.

Center a lubricated precut patch over the muzzle. You can lubricate the patch using a manufactured lubricant or using saliva by placing it in your mouth. Lay the ball on the patch with the sprue or flat side up, if the ball comes with this feature. Then seat the ball and start it down the barrel using the short starter.

Use the longer ramrod to push the ball the rest of the way, making sure it’s seated well on the powder charge. Push the ramrod in short strokes, gripping it just a few inches above the muzzle. If you use longer strokes, you might accidentally snap the rod and injure your hands or arm. Your ramrod should be marked to show when the ball is properly seated over a specific load, such as 70 grains of FFFg powder.