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The basic setup for this world is that whenever someone dies, their soul is subjected to reincarnation. However, every once and a while this system fails and the souls are lost into limbo where they can no longer die a permanent death. Over time, these lost souls have created a city in limbo, a massive sprawling shanty town built and designed by a few humans being from across all of history. To this end, I was wondering how practical firearms would be for people who lived in the city that were from a pre-firearm era, as on one hand, the technology would be completely alien to them, but on the other firearms are naturally more intuitive than most other weapons, which was a big part of their early success.

So in summary, do you think it would be at all reasonable for a person from say the dark ages, for example, to learn how to use modern firearms as their best option for a primary weapon if taught by a modern human with access to guns and ammunition? How much time do you guess such training would take?

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    $\begingroup$ The question is a bit unspecific. What's the upper bound of "a reasonable amount of time"? What level of skill is "proficiently"? More importantly, how much ammunition and maintenance supplies are they given to practice with? $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding Matt, please take our tour and read-up in our help center about our ways, enjoy the site. $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ In real history, indigenous people were quick to learn how to use firearms, particularly more modern, cartridge-based ones. However those people, on the average, were still not as good as trained soldiers. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Aug 12 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ That's a really good point, I didn't think of how indigenous peoples were able to make use of firearms effectively. Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Mac
    Aug 12 at 4:07
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Absolutely.

Operating a firearm, in such a way that is is dangerous to your enemy, requires just the very very basics of tool-handling skills and concepts.
It is literally just picking up the BoomStick, pointing the correct end at your enemy, and fondling the trigger. (doing so effectively or safely is another matter, of course)
Even true stone-age people, like the Andaman, have historically managed to use seized firearms. (mostly as clubs, but they did manage to fire off a few shots). And the more advanced but still stone-age North American Native Indians not only learned to use firearms, but excelled with them.(just ask General Custer)

It is only the making of a firearm that requires fine skill, and science, and tools. With training, anyone "smart" enough to use a hammer or a knife can be taught to use a firearm. And anyone already capable of using and maintaining a complex weapon like a bow will find a firearm to be much easier than their own weapon!

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Indigenous people have generally loved firearms, and quickly adopted them. They make excellent weapons for tribe warfare, since you can quickly unload on enemies, even at a decent range due to the projectile speed, and they'll penetrate leaves or light armor.

You can probably get good enough to reliably hit a target 20 meters away with a few weeks of practice, and good enough to reliably hit a target 200 meters away with a few months of practice. You need to burn through a lot of ammo though.

It takes years to get good enough to do exotic stuff like aiming with a sniper rifle and taking wind into account, but that's not needed for a common soldier.

That said, remember the value of small unit tactics and situational awareness. Most combat between small tribes involved ambushes and counter ambushes. It doesn't matter how good your gun is if someone ambushes you and cuts your head off. Having one person lay down some covering fire while an ally moves to a better position to take out the enemy is an excellent counter to attempted ambushes, and being able to quickly reload and fire is key for countering ambush attempts.

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Any Bronze age artificer who knows (or knows someone who knows) how to make gunpowder could make a simple cannon lock or matchlock firearm. All that's needed is a means to bore a reasonably straight hole into cast or forged metal, and some early firearms had the bore cast in place and only reamed to final size (which is tricky to do with bronze tools, but not impossible, especially if you have access to even limited quantities of crucible steel or cupola iron).

That in itself brings you up to 15th century (Columbus had snaphaunce smoothbores on his voyage, but proper flintlocks existed by then and matchlocks were still commonly seen). Your barrels will be heavier than a steel one that can take the same pressure, and rifling in a bronze bore won't stand up well, but rifling was a specialty item before the 17th century anyway.

A cast smoothbore will probably be little if any more accurate than a thrown rock -- but much more powerful even than a stone from a sling. As you note, the only other contemporary weapon that's as easy to learn is a crossbow, and a matchlock is easier to build and about as fast to reload as a heavy crossbow with comparable penetration (though surely less accurate).

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Not too useful for limbo people.

/ the souls are lost into limbo where they can no longer die a permanent death./

The people in this city cannot die, which is usually the hoped-for result when being shot. Hoped for by the shooter, you know. Maybe by the shot as well, in this city but no luck there. If people cannot die then all getting shot accomplishes is to ruin their aesthetic and that can be inflicted lots of other ways - e.g. "kick me" signs placed on the trouser seat, squirt guns full of bad cologne, moustache drawn on face while sleeping etc. All of which would make duels more entertaining.

This only applies if the people were using guns to settle disputes, keep order, wage war etc. Guns would be bad for that. If they are shooting ducks for the table then I am sure guns would be great. Unless the ducks were deathless limbo ducks like the people, except ducks. You would need to eat those alive, I guess. Also interesting for a fiction!

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