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The arquebus was a shoulder gun that was a muzzle-loaded firearm.  The word comes from the Dutch haakbus meaning a hook gun or hook tube.  The weapons were used from the late 15th century into the 17th century and once a method of volley firing was developed in the 16th century the arquebusiers were an effective force.  The first rank of soldiers were trained to march back to reload after firing while the second, then subsequent ranks took their places to fire; by the time the third rank had fired the first soldiers had finished reloading and were ready once more to fire.