By Phil Lovchik
The Chisholm Trail Antique Gun Association (CTAGA) was founded in 1957 in Wichita, Kansas as a not-for-profit corporation, organized for the purposes of serving the interests of collectors and shooters of antique and antique-replica firearms and to help preserve the craftsmanship and the history of the arms of our forefathers for the enlightenment and enjoyment of future generations.
Regular monthly club meetings feature a program, in which various aspects of collecting, shooting, gunsmithing or firearms history are discussed by knowledgeable members or guest speakers. The program is followed by reports by club officers and announcements concerning upcoming events and other information of general interest to members. Finally, a business meeting is conducted to transact any old or new business.
CTAGA maintains a complex of shooting ranges near Benton, KS for the use of club members. Various shooting matches for members are held at the range on most weekends. These feature a variety of competitive events in rifle, pistol, and shotgun, both muzzle-loading and breech-loading. All matches are shot with original or replica firearms. Cartridge guns must be chambered for an originally black-powder cartridge and use cast lead bullets.
Besides the regular member-only matches, a number of open or invitational matches and other special events are held at the range during the year as well. The Club also hosts young hunter training weekends and special orientation sessions for women. For visitors and campers, the range provides a number of RV pads with hookups.
CTAGA sponsors and manages the biannual WICHITA GUN SHOW, the largest gun show in Kansas. Since proceeds from the gun show support all of the club's activities, all active members are expected to assist in putting it on.
Each fall since 1976, and now each spring as well, CTAGA is host to the state’s largest rendezvous, a festive, three-day gathering of muzzle-loading enthusiasts to commemorate an 1830's fur-trade rendezvous. These are family affairs, and it is customary for participants to dress in period clothing. Many also camp in the primitive style of the period. These events draw participants from far and near to enter shooting contests, to camp, to trade, and to enjoy the good fellowship that typify the rendezvous.
Cowboy action shoots have been regular events since 1992. To add realism and to facilitate a variety of scenarios, a large western-facade town has been erected on the range grounds. Besides monthly shoots for members, twice each year the Club hosts a large match open to participants from throughout the region. Participants dress in period attire, and some set up period camps as well.
To gain membership in CTAGA, a person must first obtain sponsorship by a member in good standing. Sponsors are responsible for apprising prospective members of the application procedures as well as of the benefits and obligations membership entails. CTAGA has much to offer to its members; in return it is expected that members be active supporters of both the club's objectives and its activities. To that end, full membership in the CTAGA will not be granted to the applicant until after a one-year probationary membership and a 70% affirmative vote by the CTAGA members at large.