Thank you so much for all those kind words, Jim,
Yeah, while we never should forget the cruel impact of a gun - or any kind of weapon, be it hammer, sword or halberd - , as students of these items we may leave the practical aspects aside and are allowed just to try and understand, date and assign arms as objects of arts and crafts - and as an objective part of the culture of mankind.
Unlike you, my sword affiliate friend, I have fired original 400 year old matchlock muskets from my collection, as well as replicas, several times and must admit that each time it was a thrilling effect and much impressive as well. I fully agree with you that lots of accidents must have occured on the battlefields of old. This fact most probably was the reason why Jacob de Gheyn published his manual of exercise with muskets, calivers and pikes (Wapenhandelinghe
) in 1608 where each single grip and loading and firing action had be done following an exact command.
All the best,