Re: How hard is casting?
I too have been casting for over thirty years. My source of lead is from the backstop of the local pistol range. They are usually more than happy to have someone clean up the backstop as long as you are neat about it.
If you use modern equipment in a well-ventilated area there are no health risks as long as you wash your hands when done. Lead fumes are only generated when the melt is WAY higher than needed for bullet casting. Of more concern is any residual zinc which is more toxic when inhaled. Again; the temperature has to be higher than the bullet caster needs or even wants.
You can make bullets that shoot, and shoot pretty well, by casting in quantity. By weight sorting and visually identifying defects, you can produce really high quality bullets. I cast for the 45/70 (Sharps) and regularly shoot sub-1 inch 100 yard groups with my cast bullets. It can be tedious but there is a great satisfaction in crafting your own cartridge from the nose back. It's not for everybody; you have to be pretty meticulous and have good equipment. The more you spend on the tools, the more quickly you can produce good bullets.
Life's too short to shoot an ugly gun.....