Fifty people stand in the gravel driveway staring at the foot-thick log, fifteen inches across, propped on its side in the yard. It’s maybe thirty feet away, and its ringed face is covered with soft, rotten scars left by lead balls fired by primitive guns. The man who built this particular target—the man whose gravel we’re standing on, the man who invited us all here today—somehow attached an axe blade (no handle), cutting edge toward us, to the center of the face of the log. He’s driven two nails into the face, one on either side of the blade, and he’s hung orange clay pigeons on the nails, rusty after all these years, so that if a person were to fire a rifle and the bullet were to strike the blade dead on, the blade’s edge would bisect the bullet, sending each half flying into one of the dangling clay pigeons, shattering them.

We stand there, still as mounted trophies, only the shuffling of feet beneath craning necks, amplified by the gravel, cutting into the quiet. Men and women in a variety of leather, Under Armour, and canvas, dirt and grass from the Vermont morning across the tops of our boots. The overcast gray threatens rain. At the front of the crowd, two men. Shoulder to shoulder, one’s rough flannel next to the other’s flowing and tasseled tunic. Powder horns, bullets, and primers hang around their necks, necessities when shooting muzzleloading black-powder rifles, technology outdated by a century and a half.