What is a Gun Loop?

Gun Loops

This image shows the gun loops of the Block House as viewed from outside of the structure. Note how there are ranges of gun loops on both floors of the building. Photo credit – Fort Pitt Society

The wooden gun loops surrounding the Block House, both upstairs and downstairs, are made entirely out of white oak, each set being hand hewn.  These gun loops, or loopholes, were the holes through which soldiers could look for enemies, as well as where they could fire their weapons in the event of an attack. Loopholes were common for 18th century defensive structures like redoubts and blockhouses, and the use of such openings had been in place since the Middle Ages in Europe.

Gun Loops

This image depicts how the gun loops appear inside the Block House. They have a wider opening inside to allow for range of motion with a musket. Photo credit – Fort Pitt Society

The loops in the Block House were built specifically for musket fire, and therefore no cannons or larger artillery were used in the structure. Each opening was cut at a different angle to provide the best defense possible for the structure. On the interior the openings were wide and tall to allow for a better range of motion with the soldiers’ muskets, but they tapered downward so the exterior of the openings was less wide and much smaller. This made it difficult for enemy fire to reach into the building. There were originally twenty-two openings in each set of gun loops, including ten smaller openings at each corner of the building, both upstairs and downstairs. Because of changes to the Block House over time, some of the gun loops have been obliterated by restoration and repair or, in the case of one loophole, by a new doorway. With all of that being said, sixty percent of the gun loops in the Block House are original from 1764, making them an important feature to the structure today.