Prineville club shooting for living history

Group members build historical guns, gear

POSTED: 7:56 PM PST November 18, 2013    UPDATED: 7:57 PM PST November 18, 2013 
PRINEVILLE, Ore. -

There's a simple piece of wood in Prineville resident James Malloy's shop.

But after more than 120 hours of hand labor, the wood will be transformed into a piece of living history.

"Really authentic, historically accurate, black-powder flintlock," Malloy said Monday. "I don't want that art to go away."

Authenticity is important. Even Malloy's gun shop is the size of one you'd find more than 200 years ago.

He has more than 50 years experience building historical rifles and guns -- but it didn't start out as a hobby.

"I started out because I couldn't afford to buy a gun," Malloy said.

So he built one.

And dozens and dozens of guns later, the Beaver State Historical Gunmakers Guild was born: a Central Oregon hobby group where members build guns, weapons and accessories mostly dating back to times of the Yankees and Redcoats.

It's a period that holds a special place in this veteran's heart.

"If it wasn't for these (flintlock guns), we wouldn't be Americans today," Malloy said. "We'd probably be speaking British or French or something else. It's something that everyone should understand: The gun made freedom possible."

It's a lesson the club takes on the road, bringing the guns to local schools and teaching a different type of history.

You can also find their guns all around town: the Crook County Library, the courthouse, the chamber of commerce.

Malloy said the club is also a nonprofit that donates its special riffles for others to enjoy.

"Our 2014 project is going to the National Guard to honor one of our veterans here who passed away," Malloy said.

A hobby molded into a public service -- triggering new interests and bringing the past back to life.

"Getting back to the basics, this is how we started," Malloy said. "You're chiseling and hammering and carving, getting that feel to build something with your own hands."