1438616145'71 © Dean Rogers, Warp Films

Armourer

Industries:
Film
Personality type:
Engineer
Departments:
Art Department

The lowdown

  • Dealing with the use of weapons and firearms on film sets
  • Making sure weapons are used legally, safely and correctly
  • Carrying out risk assessments and safety briefings 

Is this role right for me? 

To do this role, you will need to:

  • Be trained and skilled in the use of weapons being handled
  • Have an in-depth knowledge of the health and safety laws and procedures
  • Understand current Firearms laws
  • Have good working knowledge of the film industry 
  • Have an understanding of the Camera crew's requirements
  • Be highly efficient
  • Have good attention to detail
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Have good training skills
  • Be able to make or modify weapons
  • Be able to make blank cartridges for action scenes

What does an Armourer do?

A licensed Armourer has to be on set when weapons and firearms are used, to meet legal requirements. Armourers analyse the script, working with the Producer, Director and Properties Master*, to put together a list of weapons needed. They may have to research the style of weaponry according to the period and type of film. Armourers may also consult with the Production Designer and the Prop Maker on the design of any tailor-made weapons. 

They advise the Director and Producer about the types of firearms suitable for the film. They also advise on the legal requirements of relevant firearm laws, and produce a full risk assessment. If any scenes involving weapons are shot outside the studio, Armourers contact the police to get the appropriate permissions.

Armourers source the weapons needed. They either hire them from a licensed Armoury, or use their own. Prior to shooting scenes involving weapons, Armourers set up a safety brief of controls for the Actors and crew. They explain safe distances and areas, and draw up an "On Set Code of Practice". They have to rule out the chance of injury to anyone on set. 

Armourers liaise with the Director of Photography to determine which camera angles will minimise any risk of injury. During rehearsals Armourers coach the Actors in the correct use of the firearms, explaining possible dangers. They also help to choreograph any gunfire action sequences. During filming Armourers have to be present on set. They continually check weapons during breaks and rehearsals, making sure safety controls are still intact. They also make sure that any firearms are locked in a secure case when not in use. This is stored in a locked room with restricted access. At the end of film shoots, Armourers return weapons to their source.

Will I need a qualification?

 You need to have comprehensive training in the use of firearms as a basic requirement. You will also need specialist training, permits and certificates according to the types of weapons used. In the UK, permits and licenses are issued by the police and the Home Office, under strict conditions.

If you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film:

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

What’s the best route in?

You will need to get experience in the Props Departments of film productions, and do an apprenticeship with an experienced Armourer. You can also move into this role from a background in the military or police.  In both cases you will need many years of training and experience in the safe handling of weapons.

You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

*this is a generic term, and may refer to a man or woman