column By: Steve Garbe | December, 17
Living the Dream
It can truthfully be said that Steve Garbe and I have lived the American Dream. We came from very different backgrounds. Steve grew up on a ranch near Big Timber, Montana. I was born and raised in Mingo County, West Virginia, where coal was the economy. (It is also the site of the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud.) Regardless, the primary focus for us in our youth was firearms with an emphasis on historical types. By early adulthood, we dreamed of somehow making our life’s work center on guns and shooting.
Perhaps it was fate that put both of us in the area around Yellowstone National Park at the same time. Steve’s early rifle interests focused on muzzleloading flintlocks. After moving to Montana I shot predominantly small-bore, high-velocity varmint rifles. It can probably be said that we met in the middle because in the early 1980s we both got hooked by black powder cartridge rifles (BPCRs). Inevitably we became acquainted at local gun shows and became close friends. Now, almost 40 years later, we remain so.
Back in those days, while winter-keeping a ranch high in the mountains of Montana, Steve had some time to shoot and experiment. One of the hang-ups to accurate black powder cartridge rifle shooting was the bullet deformation caused by hard fouling in rifle bores. So he set to work blending up bullet lubricants with two criteria in mind: One was the lube had to serve its traditional role in preventing, or at least minimizing, lead fouling in rifle bores. The other was that in some manner it had to keep black powder fouling reasonably soft. He succeeded.
On his infrequent trips out of the mountains, Steve would stay with Yvonne and me. One time he brought with him a small jar of yellow-looking stuff. He said, “Try this SPG (his initials) lube. It keeps fouling soft.” I was skeptical but became extremely enthusiastic after the first group. With no wiping between shots, my Sharps .45-70 laid one bullet atop another at 100 yards. I urged Steve to put his lube on the market. Because his work kept him away from civilization for long periods of time, he invited me to be his partner. Casting about for a name for the lube I said, “Keep the SPG. It sounds good.” We did and it was almost an immediate success with many black powder cartridge rifle (BPCR) shooters in this country and abroad.
This next part I can remember like it was just yesterday. Steve and I became avid competitors in the BPCR Silhouette game. In 1993 we were driving home after attending the NRA Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette National Championship near Raton, New Mexico. SPG Lube sales at the event had been good and Steve said, “We need to think about adding something else to our business.” To which I replied, “What about the written word? Maybe people would subscribe to a BPCR newsletter.” We determined that if 200 people responded to a flyer sent to our SPG mailing list we would go for it. They did, so we did!
Now this is the 100th issue. And instead of a BPCR Newsletter, this is a full-blown magazine full of well-researched shooting and historical information for rifle, shotgun and handgun black powder cartridge shooters, not to mention pertinent ads for esoteric items that such shooters and competitors require.
In 1995 I had to drop out of the SPG business due to the demands of my own writing career. Steve and Sheryll took over “The News,” and brother, did they run with it! Circulation increased, photos are now in full color and most recently, it joined the stable of Wolfe Publishing Company’s fine magazines. Things have come full circle in a way because I am also on the masthead of Wolfe Publishing’s Rifle and Handloader magazines with the intention of adding my byline to these pages as soon as time allows.
Like I said, we have lived the American Dream. – Mike Venturino
It is hard for me to believe that I’m writing the editorial for issue No. 100. I well remember leaving Raton, New Mexico after the Nationals in 1992. Mike Venturino, his wife Yvonne, my wife Sheryll and I were headed over Raton Pass. Mike and I were having a conversation about gun magazines and lamenting that so little was being written about the new hot shooting game, namely, BPCR Silhouette. Mike said, “I think we should do a newsletter on black powder cartridge shooting.” My comment was, “Do you think anyone would read it?” We sent out postcards stating our intentions to our SPG Bullet Lubricant customers and we received such a positive response that we had to follow through. After a bit of head scratching – especially on my part – Issue No. 1, Volume 1 went out in the mail and the Black Powder Cartridge News became a reality.
Mike and I both said that our magazine would be “For Shooters, By Shooters.” I think we have held true to that philosophy for more than 20 years of publication. The thing that frustrated us back then was the coverage that black powder cartridge shooting was receiving was mainly written by gun writers who weren’t shooting the sport. Hence, much of the information was simply not correct and of no use to a serious black powder rifleman. As competitors, Mike and I were uniquely qualified to comment on the issues of the day concerning the new sport. Also, we were both avid hunters with our single shots and could write about techniques that actually worked in the field. Many of our fellow competitors and friends in the black powder world came on board and supplied articles about their experiences. One of my criterions as an editor has been that after reviewing the first draft of the magazine, if I can’t honestly say that I would write “Save” on the cover so my wife wouldn’t throw it out, then we needed to re-do it. That’s been a pretty good yardstick over the years.
In 1995, Sheryll and I bought Mike and Yvonne out of their half of the business and proceeded to jump into the “deep end of the pool” on publishing a gun magazine. There was quite a learning curve, and the road was filled with pitfalls, but we avoided the worst and tried to publish a magazine that adhered to the “Save on the Cover” test. I’ve received most of the credit for being the editor but that is pretty far from the truth. Sheryll has always been responsible for fully as much, and many times more, of the editorial duties. Frankly, without her the magazine simply would not have been published. Sheryll was at the time a serious BPCR competitor and often provided a different prospective into the content of the magazine. We were, and remain, a team on the production of The Black Powder Cartridge News.
In July 2015, Don Polacek of Wolfe Publishing purchased The Black Powder Cartridge News and immediately doors that Sheryll and I had not been able to open, swung wide. Wolfe Publishing’s experience and expert staff are assuring that this magazine is growing at a phenomenal rate and will always be the definitive periodical on black powder cartridge shooting. The future looks bright, and I sincerely hope that I’ll be the one writing the editorial for Issue No. 200. If I am, you can bet that Sheryll and I will still be applying the old “Save on the Cover” rule. – Gut Ziel