Historical Reenactment

The purpose of this page is to provide a brief introduction to Historical Reenactment and to provide information on how guns, of various types are used to facilitate this activity.

Introduction to Historical Reenactment

Historical reenactment is a scripted educational or entertainment activity in which participants follow a prearranged plan to recreate some aspects of a historical event or period, very often a military engagement or display”. There are a wide variety of reenactments, you may have even observed one without realizing it. Museums, especially specialist museums such as the Royal Armories conduct mock battles and historical weapon demonstrations, private individuals and organisations can setup up mock battle scenarios and significant events are established to remember and serve as an educational resource covering important scenes from major conflicts such as WW2.

Historical reenactment differs from a similar activity called Living History in that within historical reenactment scenes are often depicted as closely as possible to the historic event being referenced and tend to place an emphasis on the military or focus on combat scenes. Living History, a form of LARP in contrast often depicts scenes of everyday life such as cooking, singing and may be of an improvised nature.

Historical reenactor shooting over fallen horse

Civil War Reenactment

WW2 reenactor posing with rifle

WW2 Reenactment

Gun Use in Historical Reenactment

Reenactment groups use realistic imitation firearms (RIF’s) firing blanks, others may use licensed shotguns and black powder firearms without a projectile. Those involved with Civil War reenactments may even have access to replica Gatling guns or artillery pieces. As with LARP the use of realistic imitation firearms is severely restricted, primarily by the VCR Act of 2007. To be exempt from an offense under the VCR Act you need to be insured, which in practice means being a member of an organized group or governing body such as NAReS.

Live firing firearms and shotguns within the UK almost exclusively come under the requirement for a section 1 firearm certificate (FAC) or a section 2 shotgun certificate (SGC). Before using such “real firearms” as part of your reenactment activities it would be advised to check with your reenactment group or organization and make sure you comply with all applicable laws.

A Firearms UK meme from the Unity series on Historical Reenactment

Further Information

American Civil War Re-Enactors … In The U.K.?
Artillery On Tour
English Civil War .org
NAReS Guidance Notes for Replica Imitation Firearms
The Artillery Society
The Napoleonic Association
The Sealed Knot
WW2 Reenacting

This page was last updated on 2nd August 2013. If you would like to suggest an update, correction of have any information or materials we may use to improve this page please e-mail us at contact.firearms.uk[AT]gmail.com.

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