Alexander Dumas and Hollywood would have us Musketeers galloping around on horses in floppy feathered hats, billowing cloaks, brandishing pointy rapiers, fighting womanizing and drinking copious amounts of alcohol—This, I feel, more accurately describes the Cavalry.
Now, whilst I admit we do our fair share of the above (you can forget the horses and cloaks for a start) the one thing Dumas’ fabled crteatures don’;t seem to possess is a musket.
What then is a Musketeer
Well we don’t ride horses for a start(Dragoons do), but we do carry and fire muskets. We are the backbone of the Army, the killing machine, and are so important that the ‘Pikeman’s’ main role is to give us musketeers protection from those pesky Cavalry mentioned above whilst we reload. (Don’t tell them I said that)
Ok then. So we have our lethal weapon, what do we do with it? Fortunately in our Sealed Knot battles we are not allowed to actually kill the enemy – we just pretend to do so. Sometimes they might even pretend to die. There was at one time within the Sealed Knot a ‘Dead Soldiers Society.’ (I guess people were just dying to join that group)
When we get fed up shooting at people that refuse to die, we lay into them with the butts of our muskets. This is known as ‘Clubbing’ and unlike the more usual late night kind, is a hard contact sport which invariably leaves you with black and blue reminders of the weekend. (Well, perhaps not so different after all). Actual physical contact with the enemy is not obligatory however, and the more squeamish can hold back and reload thus forming a backup should we be in danger of being overrun (Well that’s my excuse anyway). After about 2 hours of this ‘sport’ we either decide to die because we are too tired to carry on, or are ordered to do so by our officers so as to allow the winning side to claim victory.
How to be a Musketeer
Obviously you need a musket. In order to do this you will require a ‘Shotgun Certificate’ (Muskets are classed as shotguns), and what is grandly called a ’Licence to Acquire Explosives’ aka a Black powder Certificate’. These can be obtained from your local Police ‘Firearms Team’ which will entail a visit by the Firearms Officer to your home. This is so he can vet you, and advise how you should store/secure your musket. (Just imagine me walking into a South London Police Station and introducing myself as Séamus O’Shea and “could I please have a licence to aquire explosives, and yes, could I also have a shotgun licence while you are at it”) Once you have passed this hurdle and obtained your certificates, as I have obviously done, you can now buy your musket. You will also require a Bandoleer, Powder Flask, and Cleaning Kit.
So now you are the proud owner of a ‘Bang Stick’ and obviously will want to rush out and go BANG. Before you are allowed to do this however you must pass your Sealed Knot ‘Musket Test’. Most people at this stage will have spent some time on the field as ‘Dummy Musket’ and will already have had a fair amount of training. Musketeering is potentially very dangerous , and we all regard safety as paramount. Once you pass your test you can legally draw powder and start firing.
There is nothing like it. The noise, the smoke, the smell of gunpowder. Running and loading at the same time, whilst keeping an eye out for those pesky cavalry, out of control pike blocks, your fellow musketeers – especially the newbees and oh yes the enemy, can be very exciting and believe me very tiring. When you start battling as a firing Musketeer, you begin to realise how important your training was. Loading and firing becomes automatic, allowing you time to be aware of what is happening around you.