half-musket shot

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The traditional range at which British ships of the line preferred to fight their battles during the days of sailing navies. The maximum killing range of a musket was around 180 metres (600 ft) and, in general, British fleets on engaging an enemy fleet would withhold their fire until they had approached to about half that distance, when every shot fired would tell. It was for this reason that British naval gunners concentrated their fire on the hulls of enemy ships, while those of most other navies, who usually opened fire at a rather longer range, concentrated on the masts and yards of British ships. They could then close in on the crippled vessels to what was virtually point-blank range. See also warfare at sea.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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