The Union Army of the West, Inc. Safety Policy exists to ensure safe handling of firearms among all reenactors, recognize established safety practices, and outline policy and procedures to be followed by all reenactors. This policy was developed to minimize injury or damage to people and property, and promote an environment of safe practices for all spectators, civilians, and combatants.
1. Safety Tests
- Scope – The Union Army of the West shall employ the use of standardized safety tests for all combatants. All personnel who enter the battlefield, either as a soldier, officer, or support roles (music, surgeon, etc.) shall be required to take and pass (80% or better) the Union Army of the West safety tests for their respective branch (infantry, cavalry, and artillery).
- Each branch of the Army (infantry, cavalry, and artillery) shall have their own safety tests based off of their own Safety Regulations which focus on both general safety guidelines and practices, and branch-specific practices.
- Branch Regulations – Branch Regulations outline specific safety practices for each branch.
- Administration – Administration of safety tests shall take place at the company level, overseen by a Company Officer or senior company non-commissioned officer. Grading of these tests shall be conducted by the officers/NCOs of the company.
- Retention – The company officer/senior NCO of the company shall be required to retain the original safety tests administered for current reenactment season (year).
- UAOW Card Endorsement – Each company commander shall endorse the back of the UAOW membership card for each soldier that has successful passed the safety test. The endorsement shall include the date of the exam, the commander’s initials and word “Safety Test” on the back of the card.
- Non-Members in any capacity shall be administered the safety test prior to participating on the battlefield. The safety test will be administered by the unit commander of the unit the individual(s) are attached to.
2. General Safety
- A “cease fire” can be called by any participant who sees a safety problem. (See Section 5 for additional information.)
- Loaded weapons, ammunition, powder, or caps must never be put in the hands of spectators and must be under active control or secured at all times.
- A fire extinguisher (water bucket or other) is required to be near a fire at all times.
- Spectators can handle/touch weapons only in controlled demonstrations while unloaded/unprimed and without bayonets and the re-enactor must always be in physical control of the weapon.
- The required safety zone between fires and any form of canvas is 5 yards, and all fires must be supervised by an adult.
- Smoking or open flames are prohibited when handling black powder in any form, within the artillery powder safety zone and after battles until all weapons and cartridges have been secured.
- When at a reenactment or event only call “medic” in case of an actual medical emergency. (See Section 6 for additional information.)
- You can pick up or handle another person’s weapon (or artillery implement) only with the owner’s permission, if you think it is lost, or on a commanders order to address a safety issue.
3. Battlefield Safety
Knives, Ramrods/Bayonets, Swords, Hand-to-Hand
- Knives shall not be drawn and will be tied or otherwise secured to their sheaths while on the field.
- Ramrods or bayonets may never be drawn on the field during a battle scenario.
- Swords may be drawn on the field only by officers in infantry units.
- Hand-to-hand combat scenarios are allowed only with the approval of army commanders and all participants beforehand.
- Weapons shall be clean and in good repair prior to use.
- All weapons will be field cleaned before the next day’s battles.
- For muskets only FF or FFF grade Black Powder will be used (no black powder substitutes are allowed).
- Long arms are reloaded on the battlefield only with prepared cartridges.
- For .58 caliber weapons the maximum powder charge is 70 grains.
- For .69 caliber weapons the maximum powder charge is 90 grains.
- When loading, only black powder may be placed in the musket barrel. Paper or other materials never go into the barrel.
- Soldiers may not fire from the prone position.
- Implements held over the artillery piece in an “X” indicate the gun has misfired and is in a dangerous condition. Stay clear!
- Weapons may not be fired if a limber or ammunition box is within 10 yards under any circumstances!
- If you see a cannon with implements held vertically on top of the wheels or hubs stay clear – the gun is ready to fire!If a gun captain has a lanyard in their hand stay clear! The gun is ready to fire even without implements on the hubs.
- Red wooden blocks on the field are used to mark the edge of the artillery danger zone. Stay outside of them when artillery is being loaded or firing.
- Revolvers may be fired by infantry officers in a battlefield scenario only when scripted as part of the scenario in advance.
- Pistols may be carried on the field by 1st sergeants and officers only.
- All pistols must be inspected to insure they are safe according to approved procedures prior to wear.
- Revolver cylinders must be sealed with either compressed Cream of Wheat or “Crumbling” floral foam.Revolver cylinders must always be cleaned and reloaded immediately before an event to prevent sealing materials from hardening.
- Minimum distance for aimed pistol fire is 10 yards.
4. Safety Zones
- The front safety zone for a loaded artillery piece is 25 yards.
- The general safety zone separating the public and any live weapons is 10 yards.
- At no time shall any weapon be pointed at spectators closer than 20 yard.
- No weapon will be fired within 10 yards of a spectator.
- The minimum side and rear safety zone around a loaded artillery piece is 5 yards.
- The minimum distance for long-arm weapon fire between foot combatants is 10 yards.
- When prone wounded are present within 10 yards, weapons fire must be at 20 degree or more elevation.
- The minimum distance for long-arm weapon fire towards mounted combatants or stock is 10 yards.
- In order to clear or fire a weapon outside of the battlefield a weapon must be aimed at the ground (cap only) or at maximum elevation (loaded) and must be at least 10 yards from spectators/general camp, be announced by shouting “clearing” or “Fire-in-the-Hole” and must have authorization and supervision of the unit leadership.
5. Ceasefire and Safety Stand-Down
Scope – These procedures outline what actions shall be taken if a ceasefire or a safety stand-down is ordered.
Authority – Any person at the event, whether a combatant, civilian reenactors, NCO, or officer, may call for a ceasefire at any time during an engagement if they feel that the engagement is not being conducted safely, they witness an unsafe action, a person is injured, or any other conditions warrant apause in action to evaluate situational safety.
- Ceasefire – A ceasefire constitutes a cessation of all action on the battlefield. This is achieved by any person shouting “ceasefire.”
- Upon the order of a ceasefire, all combatants shall immediately cease firing their weapons, maneuvering on the field, and shall check their surroundings before reporting to their Company Commander for guidance.
- All combatants shall remain in this state of ceasefire until they are cleared by the Commanding Officer of the Union Army of the West to continue the engagement, exit the battlefield, or take another appropriate course of action.
- A safety stand-down may be extended off the field as needed after all combatants and units have been released by the Commanding Officer of the Union Army of the West.
- Safety Stand-Down –
The Commanding Officer of the Union Army of the West may, if they determine the situation warrants, order a safety stand-down. This constitutes an extended period of ceasefire, where all combatants are required to remain at ceasefire conditions for an undetermined amount of time.
- When a safety stand-down is ordered, all combatants (whether “live” or “dead”) shall regroup with their unit and await orders from their Company Commander.
- Unless otherwise ordered, all units should group themselves together in the middle of the field.
- Artillery units shall remain in position after having cleared their artillery pieces.
- Weapons will be cleared using the command “secure arms” and performed in accordance to period correct manual of arms. All weapons shall be cleared (unless otherwise ordered, and with the exception of unfired pistols) and temporarily stored in a safe manner, such as grounding arms or stacking arms. These cleared weapons shall be monitored at all times by at least 1 combatant from the respective unit.
- The safety stand-down is intended for use in extended circumstances, such as during a medical emergency or investigation of an incident.
- No combatants are permitted to leave the battlefield until they have been ordered to do so by the Commanding Officer of the Union Army of the West.The Commanding Officer of the Union Army of the West may take such actions and issue such orders as needed to ensure the safety stand-down is completed in a safe and effective manner based on the present situation.
6. Medical Emergency
- Scope – This section outlines the official recognition and role of certified emergency medical professionals in the event of a medical incident or emergency.
- Scope of Practice – Persons recognized by the Union Army of the West, Inc. as having the appropriatestate and/or county certifications shall be authorized to administer emergency medical.
- Recognition and Identification – At each event to the best extent possible all Company Commanders,senior NCOs, and senior Army leadership during the first Officer’s Call shall identify emergency medical providers and assign them as provider(s) for an medical emergencies.
- Recognized providers shall be issued armband which they shall use to identify themselves as EMS providers in the event of an emergency. Recognized providers shall be required to keep this armband on their person throughout the event.
- Medical Incidents or Emergencies – A medical incident or emergency shall require a ceasefire of all action on the battlefield.
- The injured party or bystanders shall call for a “medic” if emergency medical services are needed.
- In the event of a medical incident or emergency on the battlefield, a recognized emergency medical provider shall evaluate the patient and make a determination if further assistance is needed.
- In the event that further assistance or medical intervention is needed, the provider or their designee will call 911 and request a ceasefire or safety stand-down.
- If a recognized emergency medical provider is not available, any nearby person should attempt to render assistance to the patient while also calling 911, or requesting a designee call 911.
- As soon as possible, the provider should call for a ceasefire or safety stand-down.