Grapeshot is the third type of ammunition that can be used in naval battles. Anyone who has used it knows that it’s best used for clearing enemy decks, and is most effective at close range, almost like a musket volley. Because of the amount of handling needed to put a ship within effective range of using grapeshot without suffering serious damage, grapeshot can be the hardest type of ammunition to use effectively. This article will be teaching you some basic rules on using grapeshot effectively.
The first advice I can give you is probably the most important and beneficial. Practice! If you don’t practice, you don’t learn.
Grapeshot is the most effective when your ship is as close as possible to the enemy ship.. I have know countless battles where my ship is about to be boarded by a larger ship, but a last minute broadside of grapeshot at point-blank range turned the tide in my favour.
The first thing crucial to the use of grapeshot is to know is where you hit a ship with it. Raking a ship (Firing into it’s bow or stern) is a good method of using roundshot of chainshot, but since your using grapeshot to hit the crew and not the actual ship, this is a bad place to fire a broadside of grapeshot from. Grapeshot is best fired when your ship is parallel wit the enemy ship. This gives your guns maximum spread across the entire length of the enemy ship. The only trouble is you are in danger of taking serious damage from an enemy broadside. If however, you have gotten close enough to use grapeshot, then you have probably taken out a large number of enemy guns.
The second crucial fact is when to use grapeshot. The best time to switch to grapeshot is either when the enemy ship is crippled (Taken lots of damage or has been dismasted), when the ships get into close range of each other (This usually happens when both ships have fired several broadsides and gradually gotten closer), or when your ship is going to board an enemy ship or vice versa. All of these are done at close range. When going to board, it is best when your men throw grappling hooks to select manual broadside to maximise the effect of one last volley into the midst of the enemy.
Another thing I’d like to note I’ve seen is grapeshot also plays havoc on the enemy’s moral. Since a ship can’t sail without it’s crew, a well placed broadside of grapeshot can make the enemy think twice before engaging. This is best used as a moral-beaker when an enemy ship has taken a bit of damage from roundshot. Ships that have half their guns and most of their crew missing are likely to rout or surrender.
Be advised, this is just informing people about grapeshot and should not be used solely as a tutorial. In the end, when and where to use grapeshot is all up to you.