Musket drill

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Musketeers in the Fairfax Battalia follow a series of orders that were originally laid down in the Directions for Musters in 1638. These orders are shown below with photographs of the orders being performed by two of the Battalia's musketeers.

At most events there will be a drill display. These usually follow the same pattern with musketeers lining up along the crowd barrier, facing the crowd. They load their muskets under instruction, turn away from the crowd and fire on command. This is normally followed by the musketeers loading following one order. Once they are loaded, they shoulder their muskets in order to demonstrate that they are ready.

The key fact for all musketeers to remember is that muskets are potentially dangerous, even though they aren't loaded with musket balls. During an experiment at Sherwood a few years ago, it became clear that a musket, when fired can cause significant damage to an object or person several feet in front of it.

In addition, musketeers must always be alert to the risk of leaving a skowring stick in the barrel when the weapon is fired. It is a musketeer's responsibility to ensue that never happens. One of the best ways of ensuring safety in this respect is for each musketeer to get into the habit of feeling for the skowring stick as they come to the Present position. If they can't feel that the skowring stick is in position, they must not fire.

The other real danger is from misfires. When a misfire happens, many musketeers turn the weapon so that they can see into the pan. This is potentially very dangerous: if the misfire is the result of a hang fire, they could find themselves looking down into the pan just as the powder fires. If a musketeer experiences a misfire, they should wait until the order to dismount the musket and then turn it away from themselves so that the powder in the pan falls on the ground. This is a manoeuvre that every musketeer should practice so that it becomes a natural reaction.

Orders for loading and firing a musket

001-Order-your-musket-IMG 1256 W.jpg Order your musket: Stand facing the front with your feet shoulder-width apart
and your left foot slightly ahead of your right foot.
002-Give-rest Web IMG 1259W.jpg Give rest to your musket: Hold your musket with the left hand at shoulder level and the right covering the pan.
003-IMG 1326-Open-your-pan-CU W.jpg Open your pan: with the index finger of the right hand, pull the lever of the pan cover backwards so that the pan is opened.
004 IMG 1327-Clean-out-your-pan W.jpg Clear your pan: using a finger nail or a small piece of cloth make sure that your pan is clean.
006 Prime your pan IMG 1333 W.jpg Prime your pan: Take your priming flask and pour a very small amount of powder into the pan. NOTE: you do not need to fill the pan with powder.
007 Shut your pan IMG 1336 W.jpg Shut your pan: using the index finger of the right hand, push the lever of the pan forwards so that the pan cover closes.
008 Cast off loose powder IMG 1338 W.jpg Cast off your loose powder: turn the musket away from you and shake it so that any loose powder falls of the area around the pan onto the ground.
009 Blow off loose powder IMG 1340 W.jpg Blow off your loose powder: Lift the musket until you can blow across the barrel in order to blow away any remaining powder.
010-Cast-about-your-musket-IMG 1282 W.jpg Cast about your musket: keep hold of the musket with your left hand; let go with your right, lower your left and, as the musket falls, move your left foot so that it is slightly behind your right. Your body will naturally swing to face about 45 degrees away from where it has been so far.
011-Open-your-charge-IMG 1285 W.jpg Open your charge: take a full flask that is hanging on your bandolier and remove the cap.
012-Charge-with-powder-IMG 1287 W.jpg Charge with powder: empty the entire contents of the flask down the barrel.
013-Charge-with-bullet-IMG 1289 W.jpg Charge with bullet: you can either pretend to take a bullet from the pouch on your bandolier or pretend that you have one in your mouth and spit it down the barrel. When you have done that, take some wadding (there is a tradition that Mills and Boone paperback paper makes the best wadding). Obviously it is vitally important that you do NOT put any solid object down the barrel. In fact you must never take any musket balls onto the field with you.
015-Draw-forth-your-skowring-stick-IMG 1295 W.jpg Draw forth your skowring stick: grip the skowring stick between thumb and forefinger and withdraw it.
016-Shorten-your-skowring-stick-IMG 1298 W.jpg Shorten your skowring stick: keeping a grip on the skowring stick, swing it around and place the end furthest from your hand against your shoulder. Now slide your hand down the stick until you have a few inches of stick between your hand and your shoulder.
017-Ramme-home-IMG 1301 W.jpg Ramme home: place the end of the skowring stick closest to your hand in the end of the barrel, release it and, when it reaches the bottom of the barrel, tap it down three times.
018-Withdraw-your-skowring-stick-IMG 1303 W.jpg Withdraw your skowring stick: take a grip on the skowring stick with the thumb and forefinger of your right hand and withdraw it from the barrel.
019-shorten-your-skowring-stick-IMG 1305 W.jpg Shorten your skowring stick: keeping a grip on the skowring stick, swing it around and place the end furthest from your hand against your shoulder. Now slide your hand down the stick until you have a few inches of stick between your hand and your shoulder.
020-Return-your-scouring-stick-IMG 1308 W.jpg Return your skowring stick: Place the end of the skowring stick closest to your right hand into the oop under the barrel and make sure the stick goes all the way home. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT THIS OPERATION IS COMPLETED. LEAVING A SKOWRING STICK IN THE BARREL WHEN THE MUSKET IS FIRED IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
021-Give-rest Web IMG 1259 W.jpg Give rest to your musket: swing the musket back up so that your left hand is again across the pan and, as you do that, move your left foot back again so that you return to the position you were in at the start of the drill. This will mean that you are facing the enemy.
022 Draw forth your match IMG 1343 W.jpg Draw forth your match: all this time you will have had your lighted match held in your right hand. One end will be held between the first and second fingers and the other between the third and little fingers. At least one end will be burning. Take this end between the finger and thumb of your right hand.
023 Blow your coal IMG 1345 W.jpg Blow your coal: hold the match up and blow on the lit end so that it glows red hot.
024 Cock your match IMG 1350 W.jpg Cock your match: insert the lighted end of the match into the serpent on the musket.
025 Trie your match IMG 1353 W.jpg Trie your match: while the pan cover is still closed, swing the serpent over and make sure that the lighted end of the match will hit the middle of the pan.
026 Guard and blow IMG 1356 W.jpg Guard your pan and blow: use your right hand to shield your pan and blow on the lighted end of the match to make sure it is glowing red hot.
027-Open-your-pan IMG 1259 W.jpg Open your pan: pull the lever of the pan back towards you so that the pan is open. REMEMBER that you now have gunpowder exposed.
028-Present-IMG 1322 W.jpg Present: raise the musket to your shoulder.With your left hand, feel below the barrel to make sure the skowring stick is in place and you haven't left it down the barrel.
029-Give-Fire-IMG 1325 W.jpg Give fire: pull the trigger. If the powder in the pan doesn't fire or the charge down the barrel doesn't go off, hold you position until told to dismount your musket. Under no circumstances should you close the pan or look down into the pan. When told to dismount your musket, turn it away from you so that any powder in the pan falls on the ground. Hold the barrel so that it is not pointing at anybody and make sure the musket sergeant knows you have had a misfire. The sergeant will tell you what to do.
030-Dismount-your-musket Web IMG 1259 W.jpg Dismount your musket: close your musket pan and return it to the rest position.