IMPORTANT! Though you are getting a general overview of muzzleloaders now, they will be covered in much more detail in Chapter 13.
The matchlock was invented in the 15th century and became the standard firearm to use up to the early 17th century. As with all muzzleloaders, black powder and the projectile(s) are loaded through the muzzle end. Black powder is also loaded in the flash pan, connecting to the touch hole. Once the firearm was properly loaded, the hunter would light the wick with a match. When the hunter pulled the trigger, the wick would lower into the priming pan, igniting the powder which would burn through the touch hole and send the projectile down the barrel.
Since there was nothing protecting the gunpowder inside the priming pan, this firearm would not work in poor weather or wet conditions. There was also a chance that a piece of the burning wick could fall into the priming pan, causing the firearm to fire prematurely.