Years ago in Michigan my conservation club hosted a muzzleloader shoot. As part of the shoot there was a novelty round. One of the targets had a double-bitted ax imbedded in a wood block, with a clay targets on the block, one on each side of the ax blade. The idea was to shoot the ax blade, splitting the bullet with the blade, and breaking both targets at once. My recollection is that it was shot from about 20 yards offhand. I shot the course twice with my .45 Hawken loaded with patched round balls, and broke both targets each time. Another target involved cutting in half an edge-on playing card, and a third was lighting a wooden match by grazing the head. I cut the card OK, but never could light the match. I always broke it.
On the Outdoor Channel the show is Impossible Shots and it's really a hoot to watch. I read a book years ago about exhibition shooters and one of the factory shooters that used to make portraits with a .22 autoloader shooting at a copper sheet and someone asked him why he was shooting so close and his remarks was "who was going to know 100 years from now"! I wonder how close that pellet was from the muzzle? Or was it all about the photography? Still a pretty cool photo.
Splitting the round ball on an axe was no big deal.....Most of us used fifty caliber guns and all it takes is a sliver off one side to break the bird. A fifty cal gives you almost an inch of leeway, a half each way off center and most of the time these matches were shot at ten to fifteen yards.
We used to practice in the winter with Winchester precision pellet guns for the offhand matches. At ten meters, splitting playing cards was not impossible. Lighting matches has always been a problem as most of the time a light hit on the tip doesn't provide enough friction to light them.