Thank you for reading and reviewing the Charlestown Militia Company's (CMC) Rules and Guidelines for Musket and Black Powder Safety. It is thru responsible use of our muskets and black powder that we can enjoy re-enacting and provide a safe, fun and educational experience for others.
Please bear in mind that we did not invent the wheel. Most of what you will read here will sound familiar - we have learned from those that have come before us. If you like what you read and want to use it for your own group, please drop us a line and let us know that you have borrowed our work - that's all we ask - acknowlege the use in your writing and drop us a line.
WHAT RULES APPLY
Please note that these Rules and Guidelines were developed specifically for the CMC. The rules of other re-enactor groups will, at times, differ from these. When invited to an event hosted by another organization, such as the National Park Service, the other group's rules will take precedence UNLESS the CMC rules are more specific or restrictive. The officers of the CMC will be responsible for informing the Company of any changes or other applicable rules.
WHAT WEAPONS ARE COVERED
These Rules and Guidelines are specific to the use of black powder and flintlock muskets. They do not cover small arms, artillery or edged weapons such as swords and knives. Likewise, they do not cover the details of re-enacted combat. Rules pertaining to these item, if necessary, will be issued by the CMC under seperate cover.
Muskets used by the CMC are those found during the early Revolutionary War period. They include:
-British Long Land Pattern ( Brown Bess )
-Early 18th Century French Fusils
The age to fire a musket is 18 years old.
Persons 16 may fire a musket if attended by a parent or legal guardian who is also a trained member of the Regiment. The parent or legal guardian must be the owner of the weapon.
Persons under 18 years old or unattended by a parent or legal guardian who is a member of the Regiment, may not fire.
It should be noted that the age requirements of specific venues or locations may over ride the age requirements of the Regiment.
GENERAL RULES AND GUIDELINES
Always assume a musket is loaded.
Never point the musket at another. Keep the musket pointed in a safe direction.
Keep the barrel end away from your face and hands.
Always maintain control of the musket. While spectators may view and even touch your unloaded musket - with your permission - the CMC member must maintain physical control of the weapon.
Never leave a musket unattended.
Do not smoke around the musket or black powder.
Do not consume alcoholic beverages when using the musket or working with black powder.
There will be zero tolerance for non-prescribed drugs of abuse at events.
Never take the musket into an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages.
All CMC members will undergo safety training specified by the CMC.
Store the musket and the powder seperately.
CMC members will sign a statement provided by the CMC stating they have received CMC approved training.
Additional training will occur on a yearly basis, or more often if, in the opinion of the Commanding Officer (C.O.) or Safety Officer (S.O.), training is required of an individual(s) or the entire CMC.
Training approved by the CMC will be provided by the C.O., S.O. or their designee.
CMC members understand that their use of the musket apart from CMC musters and events will reflect on the group as a whole. They will conduct themselves in a manner which brings credit to the CMC.
No "walk ons" are permitted at an event without the explicit permission of the C.O. or S.O.
The C.O., S.O., or designee will be responsible for assuring that members of other militia groups are familiar with the CMC's guidelines when participating in CMC Musters or CMC sponsored events.
INSPECTION OF THE MUSKET
Inspection of muskets prior to any event is the duty of the C.O., the S.O. or their designee.
All muskets must have a leather hammer stall, flash guard and a functioning half-cock position.
Muskets with a so called "dog lock" must be refitted to have a working internal half-cock locking mechanism. Apart from any safety considerations this will allow the musket to be used in venues which require an internal half-cock for all weapons.
Special care should be taken when using the so called "Ring Method" to test if the musket is empty. This involves dropping the ramrod down the barrel to test for the distinctive "ring" of an empty barrel. Remember that black powder is impact sensitive and could ignite. Furthermore, if the musket has been used and is dirty, soot may drop down from the barrel and block the vent hole. This could cause a misfire.
The C.O., S.O. or designee may excuse any member from use of his/her musket for safety reasons, which may include, but not be limited to, viability of the individual's musket, personal health or mental status.
It is each members responsiblity to alert the C.O., the S.O. or the Company as a whole of any safety concerns. One need not specifically demonstrate a safety concern. One only needs reason to believe that a safety concern exists.
The Stock will be inspected for:
-cracks, splits, loose plates, pins or screws
-splinters or rough edges
-ill fastened barrel
The Lock will be inspected for:
-smooth working, firm hammer positions, proper trigger pull, secure flint
-clean pan, open vent, well fitted flash guard, properly fitted frizzen and frizzen guard
-working spring, no loose screws
-functioning half and full cock positions
The Barrel will be inspected for:
-straight and properly fitted ram rod
-muzzle not dented or worn
-properly fitted to the stock
-not being struck by the flint
-secure bayonet plug where applicable
POWDER STORAGE AND CARTRIDGE USE
Cartridges must be made of paper, rolled in an 18th Century manner. They must be folded or glued. Tape and staples are unacceptable and unsafe.
Assemble cartridges in a cool, dry place, free of drafts and possible sources of ignition. Never smoke around the powder.
Cartridges will be 'blank' - powder only, no ball.
Cartridges will be inspected by the C.O., S.O. or designee prior to distribution to the Militia Company.
All cartridges used will be made by an approved member of the Company for distrubution to members. No one - including Alarm List members - will be allowed to use their own cartridges. Cartridge boxes will be examined for non C.M.C. cartridges. Non C.M.C. cartidges will be taken by the inspecting Officer and put in a safe place for the duration of the event. They will be returned to their owner at the conclusion of the event.
Each Militiaman will be given sufficient cartridges for the specific event. Should more be necessary, additional cartridges will be distributed.
Cartridges must be carried in an approved leather cartridge container. Cartridges may not be carried inside clothing.
Unless ordered to ram the paper used for cartridges into the barrel, spent cartridges will be discarded as instructed by the C.O., S.O. or designee. Spent cartridges may contain powder which can be hazardous if found by children.
Additional cartridges, not distributed to the Company, will be kept in a secure and fire proof container.
Powder should be stored in its' original container and never in glass.
LOADING THE MUSKET
Never load the musket unless ordered to do so.
Do not remove the rammer unless specifically ordered to do so by the C.O., or S.O. for inspection or demonstration purposes.
Use only the correct ammunition.
The load for a .69 to .75 Caliber musket with no ball is approximately 100Gr. FFg Powder. This may be adjusted up or down by 25% depending on need.
Never use modern 'smokeless' powder. It is too powerful for the weapon.
Never lean on the musket while you are loading.
Use only pre-measured cartridges. Never pour powder from a horn. Horns are for decorative / re-enacting purposes only and should never be used to store or pour black powder.
FIRING THE MUSKET
CMC members will only fire their muskets when ordered to do so. Members will never be given an order to fire at will.
Muskets must always be fired from the shoulder.
Load the musket when ordered to do so.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
Only remove the frizzen cover when the order to "make ready" is given.
If the musket mis-fires, keep the barrel pointed downrange for fifteen seconds and alert the C.O., the S.O. or another member of the Militia. There are many reasons for a mis-fire. A dull flint, a wet flint or frizzen, poor priming, a plugged vent, wind or no main charge are some of the problems which may cause a mis-fire.
If the primer had ignited but the musket fails to fire, re-prime after waiting the above mentioned fifteen seconds. If the musket again fails to fire, consult the C.O. or S.O .for further direction regarding further attempts to re-prime vs. emptying the barrel of powder on the ground. This procedure must be performed away from the company in a safe location. If it is the opinion of the C.O. or S.O. that water should be poured down the barrel, you must follow this safety procedure.
Given that you will often be surrounded by other muskets which are being simultaneously fired, you may not hear if your musket has fired. Watch the end of your barrel to see if the musket fires. Do not simply rely on sound.
Blowing into the barrel between shots can cause a flash of unburned powder that can burn you.
Be aware of the presence of animals at events. Gunfire can easily frighten animals and cause them to harm themselves or others.
The angle of fire should be at least 45 degrees above horizontal, unless otherwise stated by a Company Officer.
When two or more rows of Militia fire together, the second and subsequent rows should fire over the right shoulder of the Militiaman in front, using care to avoid discharging the musket in the Militiaman's ear.
Burned powder residue can spray 20 feet in front. The C.O., S.O. or designee will determine the safe distance, or safety perimeter, from spectators or potentially flammable foliage.
The CMC will not engage in rapid fire exercises.
ANYONE MAY DECLARE A "CEASE FIRE" AT ANY TIME OR FOR ANY REASON.
ALL MEMBERS MUST CEASE FIRE WHEN ANY OTHER MEMBER DECLARES "CEASE FIRE".
DO NOT DEPEND ON BEING HEARD BY OTHER MEMBERS.
ELEVATING ONE'S HAT ON HIS MUSKET, SWORD OR SPONTOON WILL ALSO INDICATE A "CEASE FIRE".
IF YOU HEAR "CEASE FIRE", REPEAT THE COMMAND FOR OTHERS WHO MAY NOT HAVE HEARD.
THE SARGENT OR THE S.O. MAY ALSO DECLARE A CEASE FIRE AND WILL OBSERVE THE COMPANY FOR COMPLIANCE.
IF THERE IS A MEDICAL CONCERN OF ANY KIND - CALL "CEASE FIRE".
An individual firing demonstration may only be arranged by the CO, or the SO. Two members must attend such a demonstration. One member to demonstrate the musket and the second member to help assure the safety of an audience.