Steven Bookout, "Bookie" began building muzzleloaders in 1974, is Master of Toad Hall Rifleshop & Yeller Tomcat Forge and a charter member of the CLA. He continues his family's arms making tradition by building only their versions of the East Tennessee style mountain rifles (hand-rifled 4-foot plus barrels have been his specialty) and Iowa half-stocks of the "lower central" school. It is not unusual to find him building or forging all components without the aid of electricity. The actual number of firearms made is unknown as numerical serialization only began in 1989 and his work is scattered around the globe.
He has appeared in films depicting the American Civil War, written articles for various publications, and made a video of hand-rifling a barrel. Also, the author of the "Muzzleloader's Mini-Guide" , the popular "Notes From A Small Iowa Rifleshop -- Tips, Tools and Techniques" , and the recent "A Wooden Iowa Rifling Bench", co-authored with Alan "Hoot Al" Neubauer, also a traditionalist and fellow CLA artisan. Hoot Al served his formal riflesmith apprenticeship at Toad Hall and now operates his own smithy. Bookie's current "long distance" apprentice is Henrik Elmer, who resides in Bandholm, Lolland, the Southernmost island in Denmark.
Over 70 people have taken advantage of the Rifleshop & Forge's nightly classes to build traditional American firearms or perfect their skills. These classes are open to the general public with no fee charged over the past 30 years. Enthusiasts have traveled from as far away as Alaska,Denmark, and Moscow, Russia to "keep the art of the longrifle alive".
You can visit Steve's website at www.iowatelecom.net/-toadhall.
A Wooden Iowa Rifling Bench
The best and most complete treatise available on building a traditional style rifling machine and then using that same machine, as done at Toad Hall. There is also a section which describes how to convert a lathe which will enable it to turn extra long rifling guides. Heavy on the photographs and no BS, straight-forward explanations. Available in book or CD format for $20, plus S&H.
Resource: Contemporary Longrifle Association Member
Contact Steven Bookout at:
1600 W. 14th Street, S.
Newton, IA 50208