Before the invention of the matchlock firing mechanism a match was required to be lowered by hand to the so called Flash-pan, in order to operate a firearm. With the invention of the matchlock a person was able to fire more accurately by keeping his eye on his target and holding the gun more steady by holding it in two hands.
The Matchlock works by clipping a slow burn match or fuse to the serpentine of the gun, which could then be released or dropped onto the flash-pan igniting the primer and thus igniting the main charge of the round. This type of mechanism was favored for its accuracy but was unpopular because the match was required to be lit continuously in order to be useful. If the match went out for any reason (such as weather or snuffing itself out in the flash pan) the weapon became an expensive metal stick until the match could be re-lit. However, this mechanism and its drawbacks are what brought about more economical and more versatile firing mechanisms.