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Among small arms the RIFLE and shotgun are both long-barreled weapons used for long-range shooting the PISTOL has a shorter barrel and is accurate only at relatively short ranges The REVOLVER usually a pistol has a revolving cylinder that allows repeat firing The precise origin of firearms is unknown although they were certainly in use by the early 14th century and were fairly common in Europe by mid-century These early guns were little more than large-caliber tubes of wrought iron or cast bronze closed at one end and loaded by placing GUNPOWDER and projectile in the muzzle or open end They were fired by touching a burning wick or match to the powder at a touch-hole bored in the top of the barrel To make certain that the powder would ignite a recess was incised around the hole into which additional powder--the primer--was pouredSmoothbore muskets were notorious for their short range and poor accuracy Seeking to improve performance gun makers etched spiral grooves or rifling inside the musket barrel The grooving imparted a spin to the projectile thus stabilizing its trajectory Rifles became popular with hunters in both Europe and America but they were impractical for most military uses because they were difficult to load In 1849 the French army captain Claude Minie invented the conical minie ball which was easily dropped down the barrel of a rifled musket but expanded to engage the rifling when the weapon was fired Rifles using expandable bullets had four times the range and accuracy of the smoothbore musket Hunting is the stalking pursuit and killing of game animals or birds Humans hunting for sport enjoy the excitement of these activities Modern sport hunters may use the modern technology of a high-powered telescopically aimed rifle or may approximate the conditions of their primitive ancestors and use a bow and arrow They may also be assisted by animals such as dogs and horses Humans have hunted for food for
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