The Florida Frontiersmen, Inc. (FFI) was founded in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County Florida in 1972. Alafia River Long Rifle member living in South Pinellas County Florida met at the Howard Johnson’s in Brandon, Hillsborough County Florida and considered forming a black powder club in Pinellas County. Steve Vienup and Andy Ellenberger were the prime movers in the formation of the new club. A week later they again met at Howard Johnson’s to finalize the details of the formation.
They released their constitution and bylaws in 1985 with the preamble:
We, the members of the Florida Frontiersmen, Inc., a private club, founded in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1972, realizing the benefits to be derived from organized endeavor, do band together to preserve the skills of our first settlers, pioneers, and mountain men in their use of muzzle loading firearms and the equipment and accouterments that accompanied such use. We shall endeavor to promote and maintain high standards of safety, sportsmanship, and good fellowship, together with historical appreciation of the era and equipment. Furthermore, we shall do all in our power to preserve and keep its original intent, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. To this end, we hereby publish our own following Constitution and By-Laws.
The preamble became their mission statement “…to preserve the skills of our first settlers, pioneers, and mountain men in their use of muzzle loading firearms and the equipment and accouterments that accompanied such use.”
1985 was also the same year that the FFI took over the Alafia River Rendezvous® from the disbanded Alafia River Long Rifles. The “Long Rifles” held the “Alafia” every year beginning in January 1971. The FFI promised to keep the same name and same date. Alafia Participants have come from every state over the years with some having attended for over 30 years. The Alafia became the FFI’s major fundraiser for this 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Following their mission statement and with the funds earned from the Alafia, the FFI not only sustained, but they grew. They acquired their property outside of Homeland, Polk County, Florida in 2001; built a state-of-the-art, and one of the largest, muzzleloading only, gun ranges in the country; built a covered hawk and knife throwing range; designed an unbelievable traditional archery range; and a permanent home for the oldest and largest pre-1840 event of it’s kind in the country.
FFI members mentor and teach the young and old in the pre-1840 skills in the use of flintlock and percussion muzzleloader, the throwing of the hawk and knife, and hitting the bulls-eye using a traditional bow and arrow. They meet monthly to hone in their skills and compete with each other and any other that want to try out their skills.
The membership through their study and hands on application of the skills, trades, and history of pre-1840 American material culture, and the Alafia River Rendezvous as their venue are able to share what they have learned with others in the community, around the state, and other parts of the country.
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