Lesson Plan

The Musket and Rifle

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Eighth Grade
Language Arts, Mathematics, Revolutionary War, Social Studies
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
South Carolina: Social Studies: 3.5.1, 4.3.1, 8.25, 8.26, 8.62, 8.63 Science - Grade 3 - I-A; II-A, B, C; Grade 4 - I-A; II-B; Grade 6 - I-A; III-A; Grade 7 - I-A; II-D; III-A; Grade 8 - I-A; II-A Language Arts - Grade 8 - I-C, F, L; IV-F; V-A, B


GOAL: To help students understand the importance of the musket and rifle to the early settlers, and identify the difference between the two weapons.


The student will differentiate between the rifle and the musket.

The student wil identify the steps and movements to load and fire the weapons.


People on the early Carolina frontier used the musket and rifle. The musket was usually longer than a rifle. A bayonet fitted on the muzzle of the musket. The musket was heavy enough to use as a club when a person ran out of ammunition, or did not have time to reload it.

The musket was 58 inches long, and it took a lot of effort to steady it and to fire it. The musket was accurate between 80 to 90 yards and could carry about 300 yards. The long rifle was about the same length. Inside the barrel were spiral grooves, whereas the inside of the musket was smooth. The rifle was more accurate with an effective range up to 300 yards. Powder was poured down the barrel from a powder horn. Then a linen patch with a lead ball inside was rammed down the barrel. A bayonet would not fit a rifle. Since the rifle weighed 7 to 8 pounds, it was not used as a club.

The loading and firing of muskets is a very detailed and complicated action requiring precise movement following a specific pattern. These patterns involve mature eye-hand coordination and knowledge of kinesthetic awareness. During times of battle, there wasn’t time to ask someone what to do, nor were there any written instructions. Often, the time for loading and reloading of muskets was included in the battle plan. Therefore, this activity required specific knowledge and efficiency in order for one to be a productive infantryman.


Additional Resources

Darling, Anthony D. Red Coat and Brown Bess. Alexandria By, NY; Museum Restoration Service, 1971.

Lagermann, Robert and Albert C. Manucy, The Long Rifle, New York, Eastern Acorn Press, 1993.

Newmann, George C., Battle Weapons of the AmericanRevolution, Texarkana, TX; Scurlock Publishing Co., 1998.

Neumann, George C. and Frank J. Kravic., Collector's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, Texarkana, TX; Scurlock Publishing Co., 1997.

Wilbur, Keith C. The Revolutionary Soldier. Chester, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 1993.

Last updated: November 25, 2016