How the Gun Was Invented
About 600 years after the discovery of gunpowder—that is, in the year 1200—an Arab boy traveling in China learned from a Chinese boy the secret of making both gunpowder and firecrackers and tucking these ideas in the back of his head he carried them home with him to Bagdad.
The fact that the gunpowder burned gently in the open air, but caused an explosion when it was confined in a tube, interested the thinking Arabs and one of them—most likely a boy—tried the experiment of putting some of the gunpowder in a metal tube one end of which was closed up. A fuse, also Made of gunpowder, was led to the powder inside the barrel and a round stone was dropped into the tube.
When the fuse was lit it ignited the powder and —bang!—the stone shot out, the recoil kicked the tube back, and if the Arab inventor lived to tell the tale be was indeed lucky; but anyway he was the inventor of the explosive gun.
In turn the invention of the gun was carried back to China and the priming-hole, or touch-hole as it is called, that is the small hole near the breech, or closed end of the tube into which gunpowder is poured to prime and fire the gun, was the next improvement in order. The first recorded use of the gun in warfare was in 1234, when the Chinese army under Genghis Khan employed it.
Nearly forty years later Marco Polo, an Italian boy traveler, went to China, and when he returned to Italy he told a wonderful story about the guns and gunpowder he had seen, and it was this boy who really introduced the explosive into Europe. About sixty years later a powder-mill was set up in Germany, and shortly after that guns fired with gunpowder were used at the Battle of Crecy, which was fought in 1346.
Collins, A. Frederick. Shooting, for Boys,. New York: Moffat, Yard and, 1917. Print.
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