How to load a gun

All general rules on the subject must be laid down with several qualifications and reservations. Hold the gun upright, and in that position pour in the powder, striking the butt-end of the piece against the ground, to carry down such grains of powder as may be lodged against the sides of the barrel and also to settle the mass. Next, pass the powder-wad down until it reaches the powder, on which it ought to be pressed as tightly as possible. This done, pour down the shot, and give a shake or two to settle them evenly and solidly in their bed. Place over them wadding of sufficient substance and elasticity to maintain the shot steadily in their position, for which purpose, give a pressure to the wad, but do not ram it hard. The first charge, however, may be pressed a little harder than the subsequent ones. It may be proper when the powder is wadded, to observe whether it makes its way into the nipple by the pressure of the confined air, made in passing down the wad. It does not always follow, that if the powder is not seen on the pivot, it will not explode; it is, nevertheless, more satisfactory to see it there; and when it cannot be seen, the breech should be slightly tipped, to introduce the powder further up to the touch-hole. The last act of gun-loading is that of putting on a fresh cap, and letting the cock down very gently to fasten on the nipple. When a gun has been discharged, it is a good practice to load it immediately, while the barrel is still warm; for when allowed to cool, and moisture begins to settle on its inner surface, it catches some of the finer particles of the powder-charge, and either decomposes them there, or prevents them falling to the bottom; and in either case the detention diminishes the projectile force which is to act on the shot.

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