Musketeers made up about two thirds of the infantry and, unlike the pikemen, they wore no armour. The musket was used by infantry and dragoons. Most muskets used by the infantry were four feet long matchlocks (the main weapon of Blackwell’s today). The muskets used by dragoons were usually more expensive flintlocks because of the dangers of riding a horse with burning slow match.
It took about half a minute to load a musket and its effective range was less than a hundred meters. To fire the musket one end of the burning match was placed in the jaws of the serpent, the pan was opened and the trigger pulled. This would lower the match into the pan, ignite the priming powder and then the main charge and ball that had already been loaded down barrel. In battle when rain made firing impossible muskets were reversed and used as clubs which is why all the musket butts were steel shod.
Mel, our Lieutenant of Shotte says:
When filming a documentary at Kelmarsh, David Dimbleby asked me why I enjoy reenactment? I said "I like to go bang". It didn't make the final cut. Joking aside, having the knowledge and ability to fire a musket, is one of the highlights of this hobby for me. I came into the regiment via a query on a website much like this. I had no real idea of what was in store, but rest aside I came back from my first event buzzing, and couldn't wait to go again.
At first I never really thought I would be in the middle of a battle, handling gunpowder, and setting off quite spectacular charges. Of course it feels chaotic in the middle of hundreds of others, but there are plenty of experienced musketeers there to help you, and to make sure you have a safe but fun time.
Don't think it's all pointing and firing. Musketeers go in for close combat too. We often turn the weapons around and use them as clubs. So, we get the best of both worlds! Plus we also practise detailed drill manoeuvres each morning so everyone is comfortable with what they are expected to do in the battle.