CBA History

Short History of the Cast Bullet Association

The Cast Bullet Association was founded in 1976 by Howard Thomas of Indianapolis and Ken Mollohan of Freeport Pennsylvania. They had learned of each other’s interest after each had sent a cast bullet article to Handloader Magazine and the magazine had

sent the manuscripts back to the wrong authors. During the mix-up they got to talking about the lack of good information for beginning cast bullet shooters and decided to form an informal association where interested cast bullet shooters could share information.  Their two main motive seems to have been to stimulate and encourage experiments in casting and loading cast bullets in fixed ammunition and to provide the opportunity for interested shooters to compete with each other both for enjoyment and to spur additional experimentation.

To get things started Handloader magazine allowed them to publish a call for interested cast bullet shooters to write Ken and ask to receive a newsletter.  Howard wrote the first two-page newsletter dated July 1976. Ken took over the newsletter on the third issue and increased the pages to 11.  Membership grew rapidly and to cover the cost of printing and mailing the newsletter members were asked to send $5 -- in effect the first dues. Then as now freeloading is popular paying taxes isn’t and most of the members dropped out. By the fourth newsletter, dated October 1976, membership had dropped back to 15. However, this trend quickly turned around and membership grew rapidly. 

Postal matches were started immediately. The results of the first postal match were published in Newsletter #2.  Five shooters entered and Howard Thomas, shooting a 308 Winchester M-70 with a Douglas barrel and a Weaver K-10, won with the small group of 1.16” X .94.”

CBA was incorporated in February 1977 by Thomas in his home state of Indiana. 

Thomas and Mollohan had the idea for an association of cast bullet shooters, had the gumption to get thing started, and did the initial work.  However, they were soon joined by several others willing to carry part of the load who were essential for the early success and growth of the CBA. Steve Myers soon took over the editing job as well as writing much of the newsletter. Sid Musselman became Director of Competition and offered a variety of postal matches in 1977. Even more amazing, Musselman managed to organized the CBA’s first national match held at the Hart range near Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania September 17 and 18, 1977, barely a year after the first newsletter went out.  By this time CBA matches were also being held at the Fairfax Virginia Rod and Gun club. Membership was also growing rapidly. In less than a year CBA had grown from the first 15 dues paying members to over 100. 

Although Howard Thomas and Ken Mollohan had intended to start the cast bullet association to further the use of cast bullets in fixed ammunition that was not made clear in the first version of the rules. (The techniques for Breech seating and muzzle loaded bullets were already highly developed and capable of excellent accuracy.) It was announced in the April 1978 issue of the Fouling Shot that the board of directors had voted unanimously to require fixed ammunition in all CBA matches.   

Newsletter #11, December 1977 introduced a new name "The Fouling Shot, and the now familiar CBA logo. In it was reported that the first annual meeting had been held during the first national match and the participants had elected the first board of directors consisting of Warren Gannon, Howard Thomas, Ken Mollohan, and Steve Myers.  The board then elected Steve Myers president, Howard Thomas Treasurer, and Ken Mollohan Secretary. 

Others instrumental in helping the new association get a good start included Ed Harris who began contributing technical articles for many of the early issues of the newsletter and by the June 1978 issue was editing the Fouling Shot. Others made their contribution by reporting their experiments with cast bullets and performing the various jobs necessary to keep the Association healthy and growing. Then as now, the CBA is only as successful as the quality of the articles written for the Fouling Shot.  Standout contributors in the first few years included Dennis Marshall, a metallurgist who help us understand the properties and behavior of lead alloys, William Davis, Carl Johnson, Bob Sears, John Ardito, Ellis Lea, Andy Barniskis, David Finch and Frank Marshall. These early experimenters/writers, along with the individuals mentioned earlier, were instrumental in CBA reaching a size that could be sustained. By January of 1979, eighteen months after the first newsletter, the CBA had 256 members. 

The association continued to grow rapidly in membership as well as in its competitive programs. By the end of 1979, just two and a half years after the first newsletter, CBA matches had sprung up in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas, California, Virginia, and Illinois.  There was also an active postal match program with 21 different matches. These attracted hundreds of entries mostly from members without a local match within a reasonable distance. 

During this period there was a lot of excitement about the association. The Fouling Shot and members of the board received a lot of letters from eager members wanting answers to various question.  One even asked for advice about finding a new wife after losing the old one when he went to Alaska to lead a subsistence life trapping and hunting. 

A wide variety of rifles and calibers were used in the first CBA matches.  In one of the very early postal matches the first three places were won using 6mm rifles. Another match in early 1978 was won with a 223 with a 222 coming in second.  Shortly after that most CBA shooters began to conform to the dominate 30 caliber. 

Warren Gannon had been elected president in September of 1978 making three presidents in the first two years of CBA’s existence.  However, Gannon served two years until Andy Barniskis was elected in the summer of 1980 and Andy served through August of 1986 helping to give the still new association some stability in leadership.

The CBA continued to grow throughout the 1980s and by the end of the decade it was approximately the size of our present association.

[ This history is a work in progress and will be continued as time permits until it extends to the present.]