The halberd was a European polearm widely used by northern European armies such as the Swiss, Germans, and Burgundians. The weapon was effective as it allowed a foot soldier to combat cavalry by using the spear head to prevent cavalry from closing in, the hook for pulling knights off horseback, and the axe head for delivering a killing blow capable of piercing armor. The weapon was, like the pike commonly used by forces of peasant conscripts or rebels, as it was cheap, yet efficient to use. The Swiss were known to be especially skilled with the halberd. With the increased adoption of firearms, use of the halberd decreased in favor of the longer pike, which worked better in "pike and shot" formations. Nonetheless, the Halberd continued to the used as a secondary weapon for close combat, and later, in the 1700s, as a mostly ceremonial weapon of non-commissioned officers. The weapon is still used for ceremonial purposes by the Swiss Guard of the Vatican, though they obviously use modern firearms for actual police duties.