Re: [WarOf1812] Parks Canada checks
- Hi John,
Without knowing where event this was, I cannot really comment on who
this person was that you encountered, but am sorry that you did not feel
that the person who conducted the inspection was competent. You might have
spoken with Kevin Fox, the area historic weapons person who was almost
certainly at this event, if indeed this was at a Parks Canada historic
site. Raising this concern at the time might have been more helpful. If
you still wish to contact him, his email is Kevin.Fox@....
Appearances can be deceiving. I know one "sweet young thing" who works
for Parks in the area. She is an experienced shooter and re-enactor, and a
member of the WW2 era Perth Regiment. It might be possible that you were
being tested by the question, since the Brunswick Rifle is also a
percussion cap weapon, and this person should have been aware of that. She
may have also been puzzled to see a percussion weapon if this was a War of
The way Parks is set up, (at the risk of sending everyone to sleep) is
that each site has a "Historic Weapons Supervisor" who must follow the
national standards in the directive and technical manual, but can also
establish his/her own additional and at times stricter procedures in order
to react to local situations. For example, we have minimum standards for
ranges, but there is nothing to stop a site person from establishing a
larger distance between the audience and the show. The site supervisors
must pass a national course every few years in order to maintain their
certification. There are three staff people presently at Fort Wellington
who have passed this course. I can personally vouch for all three, since I
have been one of the course instructors for quite a few years.
As far as weapons checks go, at my site this is a basic, and hopefully
quick check to ensure that the weapons are in acceptable working order, as
a re-enforcement for unit checks that can also take place. Each individual
shooter is also legally responsible for safety, and should be checking
his/her weapon before use. I prefer to monitor a unit inspection and
re-enforce the existing chain of command. I have to trust you on the field
anyway, and have to presume, but also monitor, a basic level of unit
competence. If you ever go to one of the huge national US Civil War
events, you will find that unit checks are the only ones that take place,
and normally these suffice.
I am not sure just how much weapons experience is needed to conduct the
above check, but I have always assigned this role to the most experienced
staff at the events that I have been responsible for. Was this inspector
unable to verify that your firearm had a half cock or safety, and that the
barrel was clear, and the stock intact, etc?
You should not expect your site person to react to each and every stupid
thing that every person might do with a firearm. At the end of a long day,
I might miss your particular act of lunacy, I'm only human. Also, I may
choose not to react to everything at the time. Loss of muzzle control is
not that uncommon at events--I really do not like it, but I will not
necessarily ream out every event participant that does this. It could
occupy my entire weekend. With a few hundred participants at an event,
one would need a team of inspectors to watch every weapon in use. If the
"young lad" was in your group, and since you saw this loss of muzzle
control, you certainly could/should have spoken out. There will always be
newbies at events, and it is up to those with experience to help them along.
Groups and individuals are often fairly good at pointing out the truly
dangerous/incompetent. It is very important that a site person knows when
other participants have concerns about an individual or group. Of course
all of us tend to be blind to the faults of our own group and most critical
of our neighbours. I include myself here.
Quite a few Parks Canada staff are experienced re-enactors, and weapons
owners. Some are hunters and sport shooters, and one is an instructor for
the national firearms course and a weapons "verifier." Some of us have
military experience, a few are serving reserve officers. Some of the above
could be described as "sweet young things."
The bottom line is that it is in everyone's interest to have safe
events. A truly bad accident could damage this hobby, and even change the
firearms legislation. One day it might be the case that no one will "have
to humour" Parks Canada staff because nobody will be able to play in our
From a slightly charred Fort George, a Parks Canada site.
At 09:50 PM 31/07/2003 +0000, you wrote:
>I was at an event last year in the eastern end of Ontario and was
>subject to a check by a Parks Canada staffer. She was a sweet young
>thing who obviously knew bugger all about firearms. She asked one
>young lad to bring his rifle over and as he did so his muzzle passed
>within inches of the faces of several re-enactors. She didn't utter
>a word of caution or admonition to the kid. She also asked me to
>explain a cap lock musket to her. Her total experience in firearms
>was firing a round from a Brunswick rifle at Fort Wellington.
>Hopefully not all Parks Canada staff are like this individual. I
>think we are better off checking ourselves with our own safety
>officers. I know many re-enactors have had military service or are
>hunters or sport shooters as well, but if we are going to play in
>Parks Canada's backyard I guess we have to humour them.
>The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of
>square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS
>of square miles...
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