Prop Weapons

Prop Weapons Handling Guidelines

Theatrical firearms in stock and or purchased for university productions are:

  • Realistic toys
  • Replica firearms
  • Blank firing reproductions
  • Starter pistols

Classifications of Theatrical Firearms

Level 1: Theatrical firearms are non-discharging, meaning that they produce no noise or fire hazard and do not use any type of ammunition. These include realistic toys and replica firearms. At this level, operator training is not necessary. Full productions, project and or collaborative works, and classroom projects, may use these.

Level 2: Theatre firearms are discharging, meaning they use blank ammunition, produce a noise and pose a slight fire hazard to be aware of. This includes blank firing reproductions and starter pistols. At this level, all operators are required to go through training. Only full productions, projects and or collaborative works may use these.

Real Weapons

Real weapons are weapons manufactured with the ability and potential intent of harming another person, which include but are not limited to actual guns (pistols, rifles, flintlocks, etc), sharp knives, daggers, swords and bows and arrows. Real weapons are not allowed in any SSU building nor are they permitted in rehearsal space off-campus where SSU students are participating.

Disabled guns, defined as guns initially manufactured to fire ANY type of projectile that have been modified to an inoperable state, are not allowed inside of any theatre or rehearsal space or any off-campus rehearsal space where SSU students are participating.

Do not use a sharp blade for any sort of fight scene or struggle. Do not take it upon yourself to dull a sharpened blade. Dulling a sharp weapon can lessen its tensile strength and can cause the blade to shatter. Understand that a knife employed in a non-combative (food preparation, carving, etc.) scene is not covered by this document.

Live ammunition, blank firing cartridges and loads, paintball or airsoft pellets or anything else designed to be capable of being fired is not allowed in any way in any SSU rehearsal or building.

General Rules

  • At the start of the rehearsal process, a safety meeting must take place where all members in the room are informed that there will be a prop weapon in use, which individuals will be handling it and how it will be used.
  • If a prop weapon in your performance is used in a threatening or combative manner, a fight call should take place before every performance with all cast and crew involved in a scene.
  • A notice must be posted on rehearsal room entrances and exits that a prop weapon is being used. If you are rehearsing in an unconventional rehearsal space and a prop weapon is in use make efforts to ensure that persons outside of the space have zero visibility of your rehearsal.
  • Always assume that any weapon you see is real, white-hot, loaded and deadly.
  • Don’t take the weapon out of the theatre.
  • Police respond with extreme seriousness to any possible incident involving firearms, and merely displaying a replica outside of a theatre is a felony in most states.
  • Firearms must be locked away at all times, even between performances.
  • Establish a rigid protocol for transferring the weapon.
  • Never leave a firearm unattended or not in your direct control
  • Guns are to be locked away for ASM whenever they are not in use.
  • Do not “dry fire”
  • Which is pulling the trigger when there is no blank in the chamber. Most guns break in rehearsal from actors dry firing (playing) backstage.
  • Perform a “chamber check” with every hand-off
  • The person handing over the weapon (ASM) to the actor opens the gun to show that there is no bullet or blank in the chamber or magazine or some other proof that the prop is harmless. When the actor returns the gun, the chamber check is repeated.
  • Always unload when finished handling.
  • This is done by the ASM immediately after the gun has been used.
  • Insure that the blast from the firearm is clear of all objects, living things, and flammable material.
  • A test during the rehearsal process is recommended.
  • Never carry a firearm with the hammer cocked
  • OR half cocked
  • While the prop weapon is in use, the user should never point the prop weapon at anyone or themselves. While staging never aim a weapon directly at the face, head, or body of a performer or directly at audience members.
  • Always aim off line, either up or downstage of the victim
  • All weapons must be cleaned and lubricated after every performance.
  • All of these policies apply to all staff, Prop Master, Stage Management, Faculty, actors, students.

Safety Common Sense

The first rule of safety: when in doubt, ask. Understand that what makes a rehearsal or performance safe and do your best to act in a professional manner.

Safety begins long before your rehearsal or performance. It is the responsibility of each member of your team to educate themselves and one another about safety and to arrive to rehearsals and performances on time, well rested and healthy.

Accidents are caused by negligence, lack of awareness, and lack of foresight. It is important to stay alert, understand the potential dangers, and be able to recognize the safety hazards in advance.

Follow your instincts. If it feels unsafe, it probably is. And if you think something is unsafe or someone is acting in an unsafe manner, say something. By calling attention to the safety hazard, it gives your Stage Managers, Director, crewmembers and fellow actors a chance to reevaluate the situation.

Safety must be your first concern, making a great piece of theatre is second. Everyone wants the show to be great, but it is never worth risking the injury or death of anyone involved. Take care of one another.

Fire Safety Team

Theo Bridant, Technical Director: 664-2565,

John Sullins, Fight Choreographer: 664-2277,

Weapons of Choice: where we rent our weapons: 707-226-2845,