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A New Guide

Use of Weapons on stage

The legal regulations covering the use of any weapons in a production require that a club take steps to ensure the safety of everyone.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has produced an information sheet titled ‘Management of Firearms and Weapons in Film and TV Productions’   This covers all aspects of fire-arms use in both amateur and professional productions.

Here is a very brief extract that is particularly relevant to amateur theatre: 

Replica (props) and deactivated weapons 

Props and deactivated weapons should not be capable of discharging a projectile but could still inflict bodily harm if used to hit someone.   However, the main hazards are theft or loss, public distress, breach of the peace or if the police respond to an apparent emergency. The police must therefore be informed. 

The producer must ensure that the security arrangements for storage and transportation are adequate, in other words: 

  • there is a dedicated and named person responsible for the security of the weapon at all times (including the collection, storage, transportation and safe return)
  • the named person will accompany the weapon if it is to be moved, for example a courier cannot collect it on behalf of the production
  • when not in use, the deactivated weapon is locked in a secure case, which is stored in a locked room with restricted access.  

Whether you are just wearing it as part of a costume or using it in a fight or act of violence you must follow current legislation in consultation with the local police.

The definition of a weapon is ANY weapon that looks realistic to an audience, no matter what it is made of.

In addition to the legal requirements, there are a number of mitigations that are considered good practice

  • The weapon should be restricted to the stage and never taken into the auditorium
  • The gun should not be fired directly into the auditorium from the stage area
  • Handling of the weapon should be restricted to the people identified as ‘necessary’
  • Everyone in the cast and crew should be briefed on the potential seriousness of breaching the legal requirements
  • A warning should be put into the programme.  This could be about a loud noise from a gun being discharged or a fatal wounding from a knife or similar






Code of Practice 06 Weapons in Stage Productions 2019

Published by: The Association of British Theatre Technicians