Safety Regulations for the
Great War Association


  1. Purpose.

  2. The goal of the GWA is to sponsor realistic, enjoyable World War I reenactment events for its members. Consistent with this goal, all possible efforts will be taken to ensure the safety of individuals participating in GWA events. These regulations establish GWA policy regarding those responsibilities, duties, and procedures necessary to ensure the safety of members while participating in GWA sponsored events.

  3. Responsibilities
    1. Unit Commanders:
    2. Individual Unit Commanders are ultimately responsible for ALL actions of their men in the field as they pertain to these Safety Regulations. The primary responsibility for enforcing the safety regulations, and emphasizing safety during all GWA events, lies with Unit Commanders. This responsibility cannot be delegated away. Other members of the nit may be designated to train and enforce these regulations, but the commander alone bears sole responsibility for the results of those individuals.

    3. GWA Officers:

    4. Under the direction of the GWA Vice President as Chairman of the Safety Committee,*GWA Officers will fully support the unit commanders in meeting their responsibility as set forth in these regulations.

    5. Individual GWA Members:

    6. It is the responsibility of every GWA member to watch for safety violations and adhere to these regulations to safeguard their own well-being and that of every person on the field.


  1. Unit Commanders will:
    1. Appoint a unit safety officer within his unit. This may be the commander or a nother individual, but appointment of an other individual to perform safety-related duties within the unit does not relieve the commanders of his overall responsibility.
    2. Ensure each unit member is thoroughly familiar with these regulations prior to participation an any event.
    3. Maintain documented proof of compliance with "a.2" above. This will consist of a copy of these regulations, or other suitable certificate, signed by the individual reenactor verifying his familiarity with the provisions of this regulation. Unit Commanders must be able to produce this documentation in hard copy if required.
    4. Ensure unit members are properly registered members of the GWA and possess a valid trench pass as documentation of registration before they enter into any combat scenario.
    5. Ensure unit members comply with the provisions of this regulation before entering any combat scenario.
    6. Organize and supervise the execution of a safety briefing and inspection for all unit members before attending the event safety formation.
    7. Ensure the safety and legality of mortars, machineguns, or other devices used by their unit before these are allowed to take part in a combat event.
    8. Inspect all pyrotechnic devices to be used by the unit for compliance with the provisions of this regulation.
  2. The GWA Vice President (Chairman, Safety Committee) will:
    1. Assist and provide support to Unit Commanders in fulfilling their obligations under this regulation.
    2. Coordinate the efforts of unit appointed safety officers, and work with them to enforce these regulations.
    3. Organize and supervise the execution of a standard safety briefing and inspection for all participants before any battle scenario is begun.
    4. Ensure the safety and legality of mortars, machineguns, or other devices before these are allowed to take part in a combat event.
    5. Coordinate and supervise the inspection of all pyrotechnic devices before use at an event.
    6. Serve as final arbiter for safety-related decisions or disputes.
    7. Ensure the availability of the required aid personnel, vehicle, and medical supplies prior to the start of any combat scenario.
    8. Serve as the proponent for these regulations, and propose suggested revisions as needed to ensure effectiveness, accuracy, and currency.
  3. Other GWA Officers will:
    1. Assist and provide support to Unit Commanders and the Vice President in fulfilling their obligations under this regulation.
    2. Serve as on-the-field Safety Officials during combat scenarios.
    3. Act as the promulgating authority for these regulations.
    4. Consider and act upon recommendations in matters pertaining to proposed revisions to these regulations.
  4. All GWA Members will:
    1. 1. Be familiar with the contents of these regulations. 2. Comply with the provisions of this regulation. 3. Comply with the direction of Unit Commanders and Safety Officials in matters pertaining to event safety. 4. Ensure they attend both unit and event safety briefing and inspections prior to taking part in any scenario play. 5. Serve as adjunct safety officers during combat scenarios.


  1. Unit Procedures.

  2. Unit Commanders will ensure their members are in compliance with these regulations before allowing them to attend the Safety Formation held before the beginning of any scenario at a GWA event. Specifically, before any GWA members is allowed to take part in the event Safety Formation, his Unit Commander (or designated representative) will:

    1. Ensure each individual is a member in good standing of the GWA and, therefore, eligible to participate in the event.
    2. Inspect individual trench passes to ensure unit members are properly registered for the specific event.
    3. Inspect individuals for safety hazards and correct defects found.
    4. Ensure each unit member receives a comprehensive safety briefing before that individual is allowed to attend the event safety formation.
    5. Inspect pyrotechnic devises which his unit intends to use, ensuring their compliance with the provisions of Annex A to this regulation. Ensure uninspected/unapproved devices are not allowed onto the field.
    6. Inspect weapons and ammunition. This includes:
      1. Individual weapons
      2. Automatic weapons, whether set up in fixed locations or brought to the event safety formation to ensure compliance with the provisions of Annex B.
      3. Ensure compliance with marking requirements for automatic weapons positions.
      4. Inspect mortars and other devices for compliance with the provisions of Annex B to this regulation.
    7. Observe scenario play within their unit and, in the event of a safety infraction or safety related incident, intervene to resolve that incident or refer it to a GWA Officer for resolution.
  3. GWA Procedures.

  4. The GWA is responsible for the overall safe conduct of the event and those combat scenarios occurring within it. The GWA is responsible for the conduct of a general Safety Formation before any scenario is begun. Specifically, the GWA will:

    1. Organize and conduct a safety check/demonstration of any pyrotechnics which individuals intend to use during any event. This will be accomplished as outlined in Annex A.
    2. Inspect all automatic weapons/destructive devices to ensure they comply with the provisions of Annex B or C to this regulation.
    3. Deliver a comprehensive safety briefing before any scenario play is begun.
    4. Organize and execute a spot-check of all participants before scenario play is begun.
    5. Observe scenario play and, in the event of a safety infraction or safety related incident, intervene to resolve that incident.


  1. Weapons
    1. Firearms:

    2. Firearms of any type will be handled according to the following Basic Safety Rules:

    3. Possession of live ammunition is absolutely forbidden at any GWA event.
    4. Only individuals who are approved members of the GWA, and in compliance with all safety requirements, may bear arms on GWA property.
    5. Only individuals who possess a valid trench pass may enter the trench system/combat after combat commences.
    6. Weapons will be discharged with the muzzle elevated at an approximate 45 degree angle from the horizontal. Under no circumstances will a weapon actually be aimed at another.
    7. All participants must stay in the trenches for trench fighting. During trench fighting no one may walk upon or look over a trench wall, as someone may be shooting UP.
    8. Shotguns may not be used under any circumstances.
  2. Trench Weapons (bayonets, clubs, trench knives, etc;).
    1. "Simulated" trench knives are to be used so as not to cause any injury. Blades must be of flexible rubber or plastic that cannot penetrate human skin.
    2. Trench clubs are to be constructed of soft materials which will not produce injury in use.
    3. Bayonets will NOT be affixed to rifles except for approved and controlled scenarios.
    4. Bayonets may only be fixed on the battlefield when so directed by the two field commanders. Under no circumstances will combatants come to close quarters with fixed bayonets.
    5. Participants will not come to close quarters with any real pointed/edged weapons.
    6. Other authentic trench fighting implements, e.g., entrenching tools, may be used in simulated hand-to-hand combat. Their use will be governed by common sense and prudent judgement so as not to endanger other reenactors.
  3. Pyrotechnics.

  4. The term "pyrotechnics" or "projectile" as used in this section serve as a general term to cover ANY of the following devices: pyrotechnic devices; smoke devices of ALL types; mortar and mortar smoke bombs; rifle launched and hand thrown grenades; light producing devices; and ANY explosive device intended to increase the WWI atmosphere at the event, whether it be thrown or launched in any manner.

    1. Pyrotechnics will not be thrown or launched directly at individuals. Projectiles must be launched or thrown so as to FALL at no less than a 45 degree angle.
    2. Pyrotechnics will not be thrown or launched into bunkers, MG, or mortar positions. Once these positions are within "destructive range" of an attacking force and are obviously finished, it becomes the RESPONSIBILITY of THAT POSITION to capitulate or place themselves out of action to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
    3. There will be no mortar/rifle grenade fire at any scenario where steel helmets are not worn.
    4. All personnel within the trench complex area MUST wear steel helmets when launched pyrotechnic devices are used.
    5. No mortar or rifle grenades will be fired prior to the event safety formation.
    6. Do not pick up pyrotechnics to throw them out of a trench or position. Just avoid them.
  5. General.
    1. Possession of illegal substances; illegal, unregistered, or improperly registered weapons; or live ammunition is forbidden at any GWA sponsored event or on any GWA owned or leased site. Violations of these provisions will result in immediate expulsion.
    2. Possession or use of alcohol on the battlefield is not permitted.
    3. Individuals who are discovered to be intoxicated before scenario play may be prohibited from participation. Any individual discovered to be intoxicated during scenario play will be removed from the battlefield.


  1. No GWA sanctioned EVENT may be held without the presence of a qualified medic, equipped to handle emergency first aid, as determined by the head of the GWA Safety Committee, or the safety officer appointed for that event.
  2. The word "CORPSMAN" will be used to indicate a genuine emergency; any other terms is considered period in context and can be ignored.
  3. At the word "CORPSMAN," all activity will cease and silence will be maintained on the battlefield in order to direct medical aid to the spot required. Individuals not involved with the emergency incident will hold in position until the two field commanders officially reinstate combat when appropriate.
  4. Only individuals at the scene of the emergency will use the word "CORPSMAN" to direct emergency personnel to the spot. Emergency personnel must make themselves known immediately, so they can be hastened to the scene of the emergency.
  5. A designated emergency vehicle will be identified before scenario play begins. It will be located near the battle site to transport injured personnel to the nearest medical facility if required.


  1. Individual:

  2. Willful failure to comply with the provisions of this regulation may result in the individual's expulsion from the event or, in cases of severe breaches, expulsion from the GWA based on a review of the circumstances by the GWA G-8. Individuals who commit minor violations of the provisions of this regulation without serious consequence shall be corrected on the spot. Violations of IV.c.1, irrespective of intent, will result in expulsion of the member from the GWA.

  3. Unit:
    1. Deliberate failure to comply, or willful circumvention of these regulations by a unit may result in censure, or, in severe cases, suspension of the unit from participation in GWA sponsored events until such time as the issue is resolved.
    2. Units which display a proportionally inappropriate number of safety infractions by individuals within the unit may be deemed to be in deliberate noncompliance with safety procedures and subject to censure or suspension.


  1. These regulations are in effect until rescinded or changed.
  2. Suggestions for changes shall be submitted to the GWA Vice President, who is responsible to bring them before the G-8 for consideration. Approved changes shall be distributed as Change Proposals to the original regulation; if, in the assessment of the G-8, the incorporated changes are substantial, issue of a revised regulation may be warranted.
  3. These regulations shall be posted on the GWA web site—insofar as one exists—to facilitate access by GWA members. No changes, suggestions, or amendments having been received, these regulations were approved and adopted by the GWA Board of Directors on 13 February 1999.



This annex details the construction, approval, and storage of pyrotechnic devices; smoke devices of ALL types; mortar and mortar smoke bombs; rifle launched and hand thrown grenades; light producing devices; and ANY explosive device intended to increase the WWI atmosphere at the event, whether it be thrown or launched in any manner. The term "projectile" or "pyrotechnics" as used in this annex are used as a general term to cover ANY of the above listed devices.

  1. Construction
    1. Hand thrown grenades must agree in size and shape with a documented pattern or type used in WWI. New grenade designs must be approved before use.
    2. Projectiles of any type shall not be more than 10 ounces (allows for a sabot for launched projectiles) of projected weight and 8 ounces of impact weight.
    3. Burst charge will not exceed 30 grains FFG black powder or equal charge of Pyrodex, and must conform to State and Federal Regulations. Charge should only be sufficient to burst the container to attain the effect desired. Charges shall no be overly-compressed; use as little powder as possible based upon the design of the projectile to produce the desired effect.
    4. Projectile case must exhibit a palpable flexibility under finger pressure to lessen kinetic transfer of energy upon impact. Grenades utilizing wood handles (e.g., stick or paddle type grenades) must have rounded edges and be of all glued construction. Use of nails, staples, or any sharp or potentially dangerous material that can be exposed upon detonation or impact is forbidden. Wood handles should be made of soft (lightweight) wood.
    5. No part of the projectile can contain any metal, with the exception of kitchen aluminum foil, no more than double layer thickness. This is the material that must be used to wrap the bursting charge, as it will not smolder and ignite fires after exploding.
    6. No part of any projectile shall be constructed of any material that is, in the opinion of the inspecting Safety Official, likely to produce hazardous fragments that can cause injury, likely to "flame", or likely to throw burning parts/sparks.
    7. No launched projectile, due to velocity attained, shall display any sharp or hard protruding parts, and shall be securely sealed to prevent "leakage" of filler that may obstruct the tube of a firing device.
    8. Projectile and grenades will be filled with commercial Baking Soda to assist in preventing brush fires. ANY OTHER FILLER IS PROHIBITED.
    9. Projection charges will be either FFG black rifle powder or Pyrodex only.
    10. Any smoke-making devices designed for projection must be such as to generate the smoke within the container and exit as a cloud, thus making no sparks or leaving residue to destroy clothing and materials in the vicinity, or causing fires. All smoke devices, including commercial, fall into the pyrotechnic device category and MUST be approved for use.
    11. Projectiles cannot contain an "impact" detonation device, but must incorporate a sufficient time fuse to detonate well after impact (5 seconds). "AIR BURST" projectiles are forbidden.
  2. Approval.

  3. Before any use at a GWA event, pyrotechnics will be tested and approved.A specific time and place for this testing will be announced. Two samples of the device are required—one will be exploded in the presence of the Safety Committee to determine its suitability for use; the other will be retained by the Safety Committee as a sample. Only pyrotechnics which have been tested and approved may be used on the field; all others will be considered illegal, and the violators dealt with accordingly. It is the Unit Commander's responsibility to see that his personnel use only approved pyrotechnics.

  4. Storage.
    1. All ammunition and storage containers for pyrotechnic devices must contain a well fitting "hard lid", and must be kept closed when not in immediate use. b. No bulk powder can be brought onto any GWA site. Construction of any pyrotechnic devices must be done outside of the GWA controlled areas.
  5. Artillery Simulation.
  6. The following applies to in-ground, electrically-detonated pyrotechnics designed to replicate the terminal effects of artillery fire.

    1. In ground charges must be placed in "no man's land", or behind the trench system at sufficient distance to ensure the safety of those in the trenches when exploded. Such distance is to be determined by the size of charge used.
    2. Each area chosen for a "charge" must be well marked, numbered, and wired off to prevent anyone from entering the area. Wire will be of sufficient height and a standard pattern (4 steel wire loop stakes w/red stripes) that will designate to all an "in-ground" charge area.
    3. Co-ordination of the "barrage" must be done with both sides to ensure everyone is IN the trenches and prepared when charges are detonated. Only the combat commanders may give permission to fire charges.
    4. Any charges that do not detonate must be cleared before any action can begin.
    5. Charges will be in self-contained seamless pipe set on a base so as to be portable, and thus easily emplaceable and recoverable. Each charge and chamber will be numbered to match the number on the detonating device to facilitate safe firing and removal of unexploded charges.
    6. Wires, if left in place, must be buried in conduit so as not to cause a safety hazard.
    7. Charges are to be topped with peat moss only and will be demonstrated before use at each event.


    1. Legality. Any Title II Class 3 weapon or device brought onto GWA controlled property will be legally owned, registered, and transported. Owners must have:
      1. A copy of the BATF From 4 demonstrating legal ownership/registration;
      2. Class 3 dealers must have a copy of their Federal Firearms License to demonstrate weapons/devices in their possession are legally registered;
      3. Any weapon/device owner not a resident of the state in which the event is held must additionally have an authenticated copy of the BATF Form 5320.20 proving notification of transport was filed for and approved.
      4. Positions. The Safety Committee, or a designated representative, shall initially inspect each MG and mortar pit before the begin of scenario play. Once the Committee is certain of safe procedures, they will spot check those positions during the course of the event for continuing compliance.
    1. Reproduction mortar tubes must be constructed of drawn or rolled seamless mild steel or high pressure metal tubing.
      1. Tubing thickness shall not be less than ¼ inch.
      2. No part of the tube may be of cast metal.
      3. End caps (breech) shall be securely welded or threaded. If threaded, threading will extend for a minimum 1 inch depth.
      4. Tube must be securely mounted in such a manner so as to remain stable during firing.
      5. Original mortars must be in a safe operable condition.
      6. Mortar tubes, whether reproduction or original, will be inspected and approved by GWA Safety Officials before use.
    1. Stationary MG positions must have RANGE MARKERS established to designate the "danger zone" for weapon firing. Concentrations of barbed wire or easily identifiable range stakes to mark these danger zones are acceptable to comply with this regulation.
    2. It is the responsibility of the gunners to cease fire when individuals enter those areas.
    3. MG positions will either surrender or place themselves out of action when scenario play indicates obvious destruction of the position.
    4. Wood-tipped blanks may be used only in a weapon fitted with an appropriate shredder designed to render the wood tip harmless upon exiting the weapon.