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 realising 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.
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.
Live Action Role Play
The purpose of this page is to provide a brief introduction to Live Action Role Play (LARP) and to provide information on how guns, of various types, including imitations and “toy guns” are used to facilitate these activities.
The first LARP groups began in the 1970s inspired by the popular table top role-playing games. With LARP not only can you use your imagination to bring your character to life you can wear their clothes and physically carry out their actions, further immersing yourself into your character. As with table-top variants Games Masters determine the setting and rules for each game. Settings and scenarios can be representative of any historical age or set in the future, you are limited only by your imagination. An industry has been built up to supply realistic costumes, accessories, and weapons, with many participates creating their own.
Various forms of imitation firearm are used within LARP to cater for both the historical context where flintlocks and muskets maybe appropriate to more modern or futuristic fantasy weapons. Specialist LARP supplies can provide suitable replica firearms which are designed to produce a small bang and a puff of smoke. Other options include regular toy guns or even Nerf guns, which can be customized to fit the theme of your game.
When role playing in public areas it is important to be aware of your responsibilities within the law, this is especially important where firearms, and imitation firearms are involved. The overwhelming majority of weapons within LARP are likely to be non-firing replicas, so it is important for organizers and players to be familiar with the various laws that impact upon there use, such as the VCR Act 2007 which covers realistic imitation firearms.
The follow is now an offense under Section 36 of the above act:
- Manufacture a realistic imitation firearm
- Modify an imitation firearm so that it becomes a realistic imitation firearm
- Sell a realistic imitation firearm
- To bring a realistic imitation firearm into Great Britain or cause one to be brought into Great Britain
What constitutes a realistic imitation firearm (RIF) is covered by Section 38 of the act. Practically what it comes down to is does this imitation look like a modern firearm in colour, style and size, if it does, and does so to someone who isn’t considered an expert in firearms then it is considered to be an RIF. Although imitation firearms are available to be purchased in bright colours to distinguish them from what would otherwise be an RIF.
Fortunately there are some exemptions to the above offences:
A specific defence is also provided for airsoft skirmishing and historical re-enactment. The defence rests upon third party liability insurance where two or more people are involved, i.e. those who hold insurance through a re-enactment society or association. This will allow ‘realistic imitation firearms’ to be imported, manufactured and sold to bona-fide skirmishers or re-enactors.
The Airsoft community can benefit from a scheme ran by the UKARA, although we are at this time unsure how compatible this scheme will be with the “traditional Larper”, as often events are held amongst friends or in informal groups.
The UK Airsoft Retailers Association (UKARA) has devised a registration scheme and
database for airsoft gaming sites and their site members. Each member is issued with a registration form which is signed and stamped.
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