Does a starting pistol have real bullets? | The Sun08/26/2023
STARTING pistols are devices that are fired to start running races and some competitive swimming competitions.
With the 2023 World Athletics Championships underway in Budapest, Hungary, fans may be curious as to how the starting pistols used at the event actually work, and what the laws about them say.
Does a starting pistol have real bullets?
Traditional starting pistols do not have real bullets, and instead use blank shells or caps.
A starting pistol would have to be extensively modified to be able to fire real ammunition.
Starting pistols are used to give the sound effect of a real gun without the danger.
Many sporting events have switched from conventional starting pistols to using electronic starting systems.
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These systems simulate a gunshot – broadcast to each lane of a race – show a flash, and start the timing clock.
They are connected to official timers and cannot start without approval by the judges.
An electronic starting system was first used at the at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The World Athletics Championships are another event which has since swapped starter pistols for the electronic gun.
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A major benefit of using the electronic starting systems is that they assure each runner hears the starting gun at exactly the same time.
What is the law on starting pistols in the UK?
You can buy starting pistols and blank ammunition without a licence in the UK but there are restrictions on where and how they can be used.
According to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, blank firing handguns and starting pistols are subject to Section 19 of the Firearms Act, under the broad term of imitation firearms.
It is an offence to possess any imitation firearm in a public place without a reasonable excuse.
A public place as refers to "any highway (or highway road within the meaning of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984) and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise," according to the Firearms Act 1968.
One example of a reasonable excuse for the possession of an imitation firearm in a public place would be in connection to dog training.
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