The earliest surviving firearm in Europe was found in Estonia and dates back to 1396. Hand held firearms were employed by 15th century armies. They were very unreliable and actually less powerful than bows at the time. Their advantage was that to train a soldier to point a gun at a target was far easier and faster than to train him to use bows. The psychological of smoke and noise scares horses and soldiers.
This video shows how 15th century hand held guns were used in a demonstration with the rein-actors from Hartley’s Companie at Weald & Downland.
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