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My Biography


I grew up hunting and shooting on a small farm in Kansas. After college, a move to Colorado led to an interest in mountain men and their firearms and other gear. I was fortunate to learn primitive skills and rifle stocking from a number of talented men. I could not afford to buy a fine rifle with the family’s meager income, so set about learning to build myself.  A Hawken Shop catalog provided guidance, and Dave Rase showed me the basics of tools and their use. Dick Hart and Ted Holland shared info on rifle design and finishing, and Joe Corley and I worked together on various projects. Several local black powder shops encouraged me and offered my work for sale. 


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Pair of (fantasy) fullstock flint Hawkens and large bore flint pistols with belt hooks.

As I studied the old guns at the Museum of the Fur Trade and collector shows, I came across the work of Henry Leman, J. J Henry and others. I continued stocking “mountain man rifles” from the late 70’s through the 80’s, building trade rifles of various patterns, fusils and pistols.


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My first Leman – "typical", as I averaged details from all that I had seen to this point.


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Another early Leman rifle, one of several rifles and pistols made for the 2003 Alamo movie.

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Composite of three styles of Henry trade rifles – full custom rifles, as we had to make locks and all mounts, ordered barrels to match the old ones. Plus a 1780 longrifle and Leman.


Bob with trade blanket at “Wet Moccasin Basin” joint national rendezvous near Dubois, Wyoming in 1987 – arms and trade goods for the western fur trade.

My interests gradually worked backwards in time, through the Henry family for example, from J. Henry to John Joseph Henry, to William Henry, Jr. and finally to William Henry. Similarly from T. J. Albright at St. Louis to his father Henry Albright of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and his father Andreas Albrecht who learned the trade of gunstocker in Germany. After ten years of Hawkens, trade rifles and self-learning, Jack Brooks agreed to teach me to build a longrifle from scratch.



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First scratch built rifle with Jack Brooks, after Klette of Virginia ca 1780.


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Cheek side with custom mounts, relief carving and scraped finish – no sandpaper!

Now I had an "original"- properly built after an old rifle as a three dimensional reference to guide future work. Jack continues to teach, and sometimes provides engraving or wire inlay when especially fine work is required. More rifles, fowlers and pistols of earlier periods followed.



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Ca 1770 rifle – stock and mounts copied from original, then wire added in style of Oerter.

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Ca 1790 rifle after John Noll, fancy patchbox, carving and engraving from the Golden Age.

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Patchbox detail after John Noll, designed and stocked by Bob, engraved by Jack Brooks


Bob at left and good friend / master gunsmith Jack Brooks in 2002 with a pair of ca 1830 trade rifles - these and a variety of other rifles and pistols were made for the 2003 Alamo movie



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Ca 1820 – 1860 southern mountain rifle, as long and slender as possible, simple - good lines.

Anxious to learn more and to see original material, I joined the Kentucky Rifle Association, traveled to Pennsylvania and North Carolina whenever possible, and found many new friends and teachers. As I learned more about the firearms, I became interested in the lives of the locksmiths and gunstockers - the world they lived and worked in. It seemed that stocking a rifle made me a better student and collector, and study in turn made me a better stocker.


A particular recent focus has been the locksmiths and gunstockers within the Moravian settlements in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, begun in the 1740’s. These first tradesmen learned their craft in Germany, traveled Europe as journeymen before being sent here as missionaries. Several have had a profound impact on longrifle design and decoration here in the colonies. This study resulted in a book published by the Kentucky Rifle Association and Foundation in 2010. A larger manuscript is nearing completion, and a related article was published in 2014 in American Tradition, magazine of the Contemporary Longrifle Association.


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However, I’ve always been a hobby gunstocker. As I’ve learned more about the men and boys who made the old rifles, I enjoy stocking contemporary rifles in their styles. Arms for the mountain men are returning to popularity, and I’ve just finished a Hawken pistol with friend Joe Corley. Other projects from 1740 to 1840 are on the bench or in planning stages.

And the very best part of this interest – I now have great friends from around this country and a few in Europe, where this all began. Thank you!