While recoil injuries and powder injuries are rare when stating the serious nature they do occur during reenacting.  Most of us have been burned by our rifle barrels, or taken cap sparks to the face, but most of us have never experienced or even seem what a black powder cap and ball or flintlock musket can do to really injury a person. 

 Speaking purely about severe injuries, there are several that are of concern to a reenactor.  Make no mistake; Even though you are only firing blank cartridges, you are firing a gun.  The injuries that can occur are, but not limited to injuries such as:

 Weapon Recoil Injures - Sufficient information is not available to determine health hazards associated with weapon recoil.  However, there is enough information and facts to cause a concern.  Recoil injuries that can occur range from a simple contusion (“Black and Blue Mark”) to a massive traumatic injury such as a collar bone fracture or skull fracture. 

 Secondary Recoil Injures – Occur as the result of a recoil.  Others can be injured around you or you can sustain traumatic injuries from being thrown to the ground in a recoil situation

 Blast Tattoos - Occur when fragments of gunpowder are propelled into the skin during a firearm discharge. This unusual type of injury is often associated with accidents involving replica firearms. Some of the more superficially embedded powder fragments may be removed; however, deeper fragments may cause permanent tattooing. Blast injuries to the face also have the potential of causing permanent eye injury.

  Bruising caused by recoil


More serious injuries caused by recoil 

Prevention:  While there is always a risk when firing replica weapons, there are steps that can be taken to greatly reduce this risk.  First thing to remember is it makes no difference what make or model musket you have. The problems and cures are all the same. At heart, a musket is a piece of wood with a mild steel tube for a barrel, a steel lock containing a few springs and moving parts, and some hardware. 

Wood can burn, rot, splinter, stain, and break. Steel can get dinged, scratched, and it can rust. Brass tarnishes. Some of these maladies are made more serious by the effects of firing your musket. 

One of the best things that you can do to prevent your rifle from becoming a danger is PROPERLY CLEAN YOUR WEAPON!  There is no better powder solvent than water.  Powder residue is Hydroscopic.  Put a protecting compound on your rifle, but it is not necessary to douse the rifle with it.  At night when you are in your tent, hang your rifle with the barrel pointed down so it may drain the excess.  These little tips are by far not all that should be done.  Seek council with your first sergeant or ordinance sergeant for further instruction. 

When firing your rifle on the field it is important to ensure your weapon is actually firing.  Time and time again it is seen that someone is not watching their own barrel.  After loading several rounds and having them not fire, it will eventually ignite all the rounds at once.  THIS IS WHEN A LOT OF INJURIES OCCUR!  If your rifle is not firing, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RECTIFY YOURSELF.  See the ordinance sergeant at once. 

These are only some tips and information about the potential dangers of your weapon.  Be safety oriented and you and everyone around you can have a much more enjoyable weekend 

More information about the safety, rules and care of your weapon can be found in the 3rd Regiment ANV SOPs, ore the Regimental ordinance sergeant and assistant.