Historic Weapons

Three reenactors, circled together, confer before a demonstration.
Things to know about Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial's Historic Weapons Safety Policy.
Five reenactors in various uniforms in a line at the aim position  with muskets point down range horizontal waiting on the fire command.


By their nature, any time weapons are used – with or without black powder – there is an increased risk of injury. Park staff and living historians are acutely aware of this and share both the concern and the responsibility for safe practices. Many living history groups hold their members to high safety standards and the NPS depends upon a strong, consistently demonstrated commitment to safety for any person or group involved in a park event. Ultimately, though, it is the National Park Service that is responsible for the safety of an event.
All firing demonstrations will be done according to National Park Service Black Powder safety regulations, under the direct supervision of a certified NPS Black Powder Weapons Supervisor who will have the final say on the conduct of all historic weapons firing demonstrations. Safety is our primary concern, and our common goal.
For protection from flash burns, all demonstrators firing black powder firearms will wear natural fiber, long-sleeved outer garments or full uniforms as appropriate to their historical impression.


All small arms brought onto park property will undergo a primary inspection by an NPS Black Powder Weapons Supervisor. Temporary identification may be placed on each weapon denoting it as having passed NPS inspection. Weapons that fail initial inspection will receive additional attention until clearance and identification is given to the piece.
Upon arriving to the park the individual will present their weapon for inspection. The main aspects of the weapon that will be observed and checked are:

  1. No cracks or splits in stock
  2. Lock and barrel fit securely in stock
  3. No missing stock pins, bands, or screws
  4. Lock works smoothly
  5. Half-cock position works properly
  6. Barrel free from visible dents or cracks
  7. No excessive rust or corrosion on the barrel and lock
  8. No fouling in the barrel or on the lock
  9. Vent is clear and free of fouling
  10. Hammer stall and Flash guard in place

Acceptable Weapon Types :

Only reproduction firearms may be used at the park.
Reproduction small arms that will be allowed are:

  • Early to mid-18th century flintlock muskets.
  • British Long Land Pattern
  • British Short Land Pattern
  • French Charleville
  • US Springfield
  • Rifles (Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Harpers Ferry, and etc.)
  • Pistols (may be carried but may not be fired)
  • Blunderbusses (may be carried but may not be fired)
  • Other weapons may be used as display pieces but will be treated the same firing weapons.
A reenactor prepares his musket for a demonstration.

Weapons Safety:

At all times participants are expected to display a high degree of discipline with the weapons to insure the safety of themselves, their fellow participants, and the visiting public. Whenever discussing or presenting a weapon to the public, the demonstrator will retain physical control of the piece at all times and never relinquish control of the weapon over to the visitor. In the event a visitor wants to hold or feel the weight of a weapon remember to keep a hand wrapped around the stock or strap of the weapon ready to take back control of the piece in a moment if the situation calls for it. Weapons are never to be left unattended. At no time is a visitor ever to handle a loaded weapon. Never point any weapon at any individual at any time. Always confirm that weapons are not loaded but always treat them as if they were.

Ammunition Safety:

All ammunition will be provided and issued to the units by NPS Weapons Supervisors prior to each demonstration. No units are to bring outside cartridges or powder in any form onto NPS property. (Exception is quills for artillery.) Before a unit leaves the firing demonstration area they will return all unused cartridges to the NPS Weapons Supervisor. No cartridges are to be removed from the demonstration area.
Those under 16 will not handle powder.

Firing Demonstration Safety:

All firing demonstrations taking place on park property will be done under the direct supervision of an NPS Weapons Supervisor. Ramrods may be drawn during firing demonstrations for the purpose of historical accuracy. Loading will be accomplished as instructed in the manuals with safety alterations applied to limit the time objects are in the barrel. At all times firing will commence or cease at the discretion of the NPS Weapons Supervisor.

Misfire Safety:

In the event of a misfire, the correct safety procedures to execute for the security of the demonstrator and all around are as follows:

  1. Call out “misfire”

  2. Hold for ten seconds and then return to ready position

  3. Check flint, steel, and vent. Pick out vent if necessary.

  4. Re-prime

  5. Return to the position designated by the officer and continue the firing procedure when ordered to do so by the company officer.

You may try to clear a misfire a total of two times after the initial attempt to fire the weapon. After the third trigger pull and the weapon still has not fired, bring the piece to the attention of the NPS Weapons Supervisor.

1812 sailors demonstrating how to use boarding pikes

Edged Weapon Safety:

Great attention should be given when handling any type of edged weapon (swords, bayonets, knifes) especially when presenting to the public. A demonstrator may draw and brandish a sword so long as it is done when a barrier exists between the bearer and the visitors. At any time it will be done in a safe and prudent manner. When not behind a barrier, out amongst visitors, swords, knives, bayonets, and the like may not be fully drawn. They may be partially drawn enough to expose some of the blade for visual inspection for interpretive purposes, but no visitor may touch the blade. At no time may participants engage in simulated combat with edged weapons.

Park Safety:

All the participants will comply with the instructions provided by the representative(s) of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial before, during, or after the event. Good order and proper behavior is expected by all persons participating. Public safety and the general welfare of everyone will always be paramount.

Reenactor stands on the right side of cannon on a field carriage and lights the cannon. Smoke & fire come out the muzzle of the cannon.


Approved artillery includes non-chamber smooth bore cannons and swivel guns (New 2018). Due to our Historic Weapons Supervisors' certification mortars and chambered guns will not be allowed to fire.


( ) Is clean and free of rust or corrosion
( ) No sign of external damage or strain (dents, cracks, etc.)
( ) Inside of the bore is clean and relatively smooth
( ) No internal signs of damage (bulges, lodgments, pits, etc.)
( ) No sign of corrosion damage at breech of the bore
( ) On iron guns with liners, the liner is secure
( ) The vent is clear and of acceptable size, no greater than .25 inches.
( ) No signs of cracks or bending around the trunnions
( ) No signs of weakness at the chaplets on bronze reproduction tubes

The Carriage:
( ) Wheels are tight and free of rot and insect infestation
( ) Body of the carriage is free of rot and insect infestation
( ) No pieces or parts missing, cracked, bent or broken
( ) Wheels move freely
( ) Elevating mechanism or quoin works smoothly and properly
( ) None of the ironwork is coming loose
( ) Tube rotates freely on its trunnions
( ) Cap squares fit snugly and are properly keyed
( ) Lids of side boxes and limber chests fit snugly
( ) Limber chests and side boxes are clean and free of spilled powder
( ) Wood generally free of serious checking and splintering
( ) Wheel hub does not gouge the end of the axletree
( ) Linch pin is not digging into the wheel hub

( ) All necessary equipment is present
( ) Sponge is in good condition and fitted to the bore
( ) Rammer head is secure and free of cracks
( ) Small items in good condition (linstock, thumbstall, buckets, etc.)
( ) Prongs of the worm are sharp and not bent
( ) Haversack is clean and free of spilled powder
( ) The gun book is being kept up to date


The maximum powder charge is based on NPS Table of Maximum Loads or not exceed 3.5 ounces of powder for 1 each of the bore up to one pound. No piece of artillery will fire a charge greater than one pound.

Abbreviated NPS Table of Maximum Loads

Weapon Type Caliber Max Blank Load
Swivel Gun 2 pounder 4 ounces
British Light 6 pounder 12 ounces
Iron Gun 3 pounder 6 ounces
Iron Gun 4 pounder 8 ounces
Iron Gun 6 pounder 10 ounces
Iron Gun 12 pounder 16 ounces

Last updated: March 16, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 549
Put-in-Bay, OH 43456


(419) 285-2184

Contact Us