A Practical Guide to Loading and Firing a military musket,

With some personal observations by a Company Officer.

Not being an Historical Document, but rather a modern essay by a Historical Re-Enactor, and so should not be used as reference to Historical Fact. Rather, it is intended solely to be used as a guide to Re-Enactors. This is not a substitute for owning and learning a correct copy of the Manual of Arms and Platoon Exercise.
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One of the things our platoon Sgt. did to us when we were very young Pte.ís was to have us undo the front or our rifle slings from the swivels. He then had us all secure the end of the slings to our right wrists. The result was a two-foot tether strap, not unlike the string your mother tied to your mitts when you were three.

At first, this may seem to you as though we were being treated like children. I do know this though. In all the swamps, sand, mud, grass, rocks, trees, darkness, burning sunlight and pouring rain we encountered, no one in our platoon ever lost his weapon. No soldier was ever more than arms length away from his primary tool. I saw a lot of other Companies were men left their rifles laying up against a tree while they stood in line to eat. And yes, one of the other Battalions even had a man charged because he lost his rifle. It never happened in our platoon.

I never found any reference to this procedure in any training manual published by the Canadian Forces. When I brought the subject up, with others, I got strange reactions. Things like "Give us a break!" and "What are we, children?" were the most common reactions. Yet over the years, I can remember at least 4 distinct instances where men had lost their weapons in the field.

When I met him, at a Regimental re-union, years later, he told me what I wanted to know. He got that trick from Korea. It was never part of the manual. And of course, after his platoon started the practice, none of them ever lost a rifle.

So, whatís the point? The point is that not everything is written down, even in modern times. Soldiers should be trained using the manual. That is what it is there for. It provides standards and consistency for everyone. A private from one Regiment can fit in with another, and not be lost in the drill. Enhancements, such as strapping our FALís to our wrist while in a swamp, do not take away from how you are taught to use your rifle. Changes, however, which affect performance, should make us wary.

I have noticed in our 1812 Re-Enactment, a broad range of practices that seem to stray from the Manual of Arms and Platoon Exercise. Here, after, you will find an outline to the manual of arms. With it, are suggestions based on experience gained in teaching young students and volunteers. I hope that it may be of help to some. This essay should not be considered a substitute for owning and learning a copy of the correct Manual of Arms and Platoon Exercise.

One final comment. All of the actions demonstrated below are done with live amunition.

Your humble and obedient servant,

Jim Keigher,
Officer Commanding
Canadian Corps of Voyageurs
Fort William Company

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A light infantry section, such as they are!
My thanks to Mick, Jeff, and Bert,
for letting me use them as fleugel men.

Foot Notes:

*There is a modern equivalent to this, when teaching young recruits to use a Browning 9mm pistol, on a target range. Many of the females, and some of the male soldiers, could not keep control of the pistol while drawing back the slide to cock the weapon. I taught them to hold the slide fast with their left hand and push up on the pistol with their right. The results where the same, and the pistol did not end up waving all over the firing point.  One of the key points to firearms safety has always been muzzle control.

**Some real old-timers may remember the Browning 7.62mm Flexible before the cocking ring was added? It had a handle about the size of a window crank, and if you grabbed it wrong, while clearing a jammed belt, it could recoil and break your thumb. So, maybe a flint cut doesnít seem so bad?

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