Armourers and Firearms

In partnership with The Tunnel, Bare Arms is authorised to provide Section 5 prohibited weaponry and armourers to theatrical productions, as well as train performers in their use. Please call 0203 441 9404 to discuss your production requirements or drop us an email. Since 2019 we have been consulting armourers to the English National Opera.

The Midwich Cuckoos
Blue Story
Sex Education, Bare Arms Armourers and military extras, supporting artists
Sex Education

Working effectively with firearms requires a solid understanding of their mechanics, as well as the knowledge of how they are used for real. Above all, they need to be treated with the utmost care in order to keep cast and crew safe when they are being used. Our armourers are not only technical advisers in their own right, but have recent and relevant military and civilian shooting experience to bring to bear.

There are many different types of firearms that can be used in a theatrical setting, each with their own positive and negative aspects. What works for stage, won’t necessarily work for screen, and what is suitable for a wide shot, might not be suitable for a close up. Our team can guide and advise to find the most suitable set of solutions for your needs. We have an unblemished safety record and have access to thousands of firearms to suit any period, as well as manufacturing capability to produce bespoke weapons. 

Actress learning how to use shotguns at London Scottish House, Bare Arms firearms training
Motion Capture Mocap weapons for a video game, Bare Arms armourers


What is a Section 5 Licence?

Firearms in the UK are heavily restricted and most of the weapons you see in films are not allowed to be handled by the public. A Section 5 licence with a ‘Theatrical Exemption’ allows us to supervise the handling prohibited weaponry which includes pistols and machine guns, and supply them to film and television productions. An armourer from Bare Arms must accompany all weaponry at all times.

What is an armourer and do i need one?

An armourer is an employee of the company that owns the weaponry and holds the necessary licences. They are responsible for the firearms and their use on set. This includes their security, their safe handling and that all persons handling them are suitably trained. Bare Arms Armourers are all ex-military personnel who are experts in handling firearms and can instruct and advise on how they would be used for real.

Any weapon that requires a licence requires an armourer. Even realistic dummy weapons can cause problems if mishandled and your local police force may require you to have an experienced armourer supervising their use if they are being used in or around the public.

What training do performers need to have in order to use firearms?

Legally no training is required for performers to handle weapons, but being safe with firearms takes common sense and a reasonable amount of training. We would always recommended a day of dedicated teaching for key cast. Being confident and competent however can take much longer. Bare Arms runs the Theatrical Firearms Course series, which is designed to take a novice performer and give them the skills and knowledge to be safe on set with a variety of weaponry. The basic course is a 3 day residential course, which all of our specialists have completed if they are non-military. On-set and one-on-one training can also be arranged on request.

Are blanks dangerous?

Blank ammunition can cause injury, and in some extreme cases, death if used incorrectly. The armourer is responsible for instructing everyone on their use prior to any firing taking place, and ensuring safety during and after firing. There are some specialist types of blank ammunition which can be safely used at short range. Even non-firing weapons can cause distress and alarm if misused, both to the cast and crew as well as the general public. The latter usually resulting in a visit from firearms police.

Do we need to inform anyone if we are filming with firearms?

If you are using any form of firearm, replica or real, where they can be seen or heard by the public, then the police will need to be informed. They will advise on what precautions need to be undertaken in order to prevent the general public from being alarmed, such as signage and police presence depending on the area. We can assist you in liaising with the police and act as a point of contact during filming.

A useful guide from the Health and Safety Executive on firearms on set can be found here.