It was about the year 1998 when I borrowed my fathers tools to make my first muzzleloading rifle. It wasn't much to look at, but it sparked an interest in me to try to make another. Gun number 2 was a much improved firearm and I decided there needed to be a horn to go along with it. I found a huge horn, made a walnut plug for the end of it and engraved it all up with a crest and a map of my home on it. I toted the finished horn and gun along with me down to the Jefferson County Longrifles shooting grounds and started showing them to friends and getting advice on how to make improvements. Also, friends were asking if I could make a horn or two for them. As time went on and my skills were getting better I decided to enter a few items in Dixon's Gunmakers Fair. That was where I joined the Honourable Company of Horners and have been a member since 2003. I served as Guildmaster for the HCH in the year 2008. My standing in the guild is Master which I earned in March of 2009.
For my powder horns I have won several first place ribbons, a most artistic ribbon and also a best of show ribbon at Dixon's gunmakers fair. At the HCH's annual meetings, I have won several ribbons both first and second for powder horns as well as a first place ribbon for a back comb I made. For my guns, I have taken 3 first place and 3 second place ribbons for a gun I entered in the journeyman's class at Dixon's gunmakers fair.
Of my horns, Tom Ames wrote in The Honourable Company of Horners May 2006 edition of the Horn Book, "Joe Becker's contemporary entry was a blend of traditional styles and motifs coupled with detailed engravings representing today's popular culture of hunting the uplands. Rarely does this marriage of tradition with our contemporary, popular culture work in a complete and harmonious relationship. Joe's entry not only worked, it bridged the chasm between centuries. I am still amazed at how well he pulled it off".
Right now for my horns there is about a 10 month waiting list and for my guns there is a 2 year waiting list. Oh, and if you are wondering, my father still hasn't gotten his tools back.