Muzzleloading is the term used to describe the sport, or pastime of firing muzzle-loaded guns or muzzleloaders. Muzzleloading can apply to anything from pistols to cannons but in modern times the term most commonly applies to black powder small arms, more specifically, muzzle-loaded rifles.
It usually, but not always, involves the use of a loose powder propellant (i.e. gunpowder), a projectile, as well as a separate method of ignition or priming the firearm. The powder and projectile are always loaded from the muzzle end of the firearm barrel.
The Muzzleloading sport originated in the United States of America in the 1930s, just as the last original users and makers of muzzle-loaded arms were dying out. The sport received a tremendous boost in the 1960s and 1970s, and a flourishing industry of manufacturing working reproductions of historic firearms then existed in the United States.
In more recent years, most states in the United States of America have now added special muzzleoader hunting seasons for big game hunting, the amount of revenue this generates helps boost those states economy
Muzzleloader loading in general, the sequence of loading is to put in the guns barrel from the muzzle end:
1. gunpowder, either by inserting premeasured pellets, pouring in loose powder, or by inserting a pre-measured bag of gunpowder usually called a "cartridge", gunpowder used is typically blackpowder or blackpowder substitutes like Pyrodex,
2. then wadding, soft material like cloth or paper;
a. with round balls, it is wrapped around the base of the ball and called a "patch", the purpose of which is to grip the rifling and impart spin to the loose fitting ball,
b. minie and maxi bullets, no patch is used as the projectile has a hollow base or gas rings which expands to grip the rifling,
3. a tool called a "ramrod" is used to push the items down the barrel and then seated firmly together against the breech, at this point the muzzleloading firearm has been charged and not fully loaded,
4. it is then primed which completes the loading process.
The priming process varies from sidelock, flint and percussion long guns, to in-line rifles that use modern inventions such as a closed breech and sealed rifle or shotgun primers.