So my daughter has bought one of those Nerf Rebel crossbows they have on the market and wishes to design a Steampunk superhero around it.

My concern is the conventions as I myself do not carry any weapons.  

What are your experiences with weapons at conventions?


this is what the company that runs two of the conventions we are going to say about bows due to some unruly Cosplayers:

  • BOWS/CROSSBOWS: Bows and crossbows will only be permitted if they’re absolutely prop in nature – no tension on the string beyond what it takes to keep it straight, and arrows should not have any form of tip. You are NOT permitted to bring arrows with metal tips into the event under ANY circumstances

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Most cons allow weapons, long as they are not functional to hurt or injure someone, long as you have it or are able to put it in a non firing state they will allow it. Check out the convention's website, they usual post all the specifications somewhere on the site.

Tricky question.  Our state constitution makes it illegal to prevent anyone from carrying a firearm (except bars, banks, courthouses, & occupied territory) whether concealed or open (unless you are a convicted felon).  It is also illegal to attempt to enforce federal firearms regulations in state.  Actual laws passed by elected officials are still in effect. 

The last in state con I attended did have a few folks carrying real firearms that matched their SP clothes.  Might have been some concealed or not.  There were no incidents or issues of any sort.

Oddly police here still get really anxious if they see swords but do not care about the .500 S&W magnum on the other hip. 

I attended a very large left-coast convention a few years back and I was very careful to obey the published weapons rules since I was investing so much airfare but still look the part.  It was a western theme on top of that. 

I ran into a group of more than dozen carrying real weapons any way.  Interesting and knowledgeable folks to hang out with.  I did a good enough job with my prop weapons that they thought they were real.  I was a little surprised there that no one called us out at all.  We even made a point of stopping a police officer circling the venue (probably for the corsets rather than weapons) and he did not raise an eyebrow at what anyone was carrying.  A number of other folks were wearing various blackpowder weapons such as a duckfoot and Elgin. 

I do not recall anyone carrying a bow or crossbow.  As a long time reenactor this is probably because carrying bows becomes a full time babysitting job and they are always in the way.  Maybe just for the main costume contest or fashion shows(?)

When we go to Canadian events we expect them to be a bit more anti-weapon but since we are next to the Yukon they do not care as much.  Last trip we took a number of longbows, horsebows, and crossbows for a demonstration.  When we stopped at the border we dutifully started unloading them for the officer who stopped us and said:

"You have NOTHING to declare, do you."

"No sir, apparently we do now." and repacked everything. in BC apparently says no bows or anything.

Our main event each year now is the SteamPunk Cruise which is limited by the extreme ship security.  I have seen them make an issue over a toe nail clipper but they seemed to have lightened up this year.  Nothing remotely weapon-like is tolerated even plastic swords for kids.  Canes are a slight exception being treated as "invisible" by security probably because so many regular cruisers are at the age where they need canes and are not going to be made uncomfortable.  This extreme policy is about the only downside to the cruise so I can live being not quite dressed. 

I still compete in SASS events and SP has raised my interest in 19th century firearms which has lead to my collection growing.  I picked up just the cutest little 7mm Belgian made pinfire revolver.  It is a beautiful example of a little pocket or muff gun.  Someday I shall find a SP event that includes a SASS or NCOWS shoot.  Someday. 

I saw a similar situation in Sweden some years ago where bows and crossbows could not have strings.  Instead they allowed them to make chains of regular rubberbands to replace the strings for just appearance sake.  You could demonstrate a draw or crossbow mechanism with the rubberband chain but it did not have the power to launch a projectile even a meter.  Just a thought. 

This is the weapons policy for an upcoming convention in British Columbia: 

better to publish overly restrictive policies which you do not enforce rigidly so that you can absolutely win any argument with someone acting like an idiot.  An ounce of prevention. 

I have found that more cons in my area allow blades to be carried "peace tied" or zip tied into their scabbards, but restrict realistic firearms. I have never been to any place that restricts the carry of Nerf or obviously toy weapons of any kind. The best way is to not have the arms be so integral to the overall costume that they are NEEDED. That way they can be locked in the vehicle if you get some overly cautious or "John Wayne" type guards that like to throw their weight around. Mind you, I mean no disrespect to the bulk of the security guards out there, but there is always that one person who thinks their goal in life is to make problems. 

Results may vary!

Last July my usual Steampunk convention, GEARCon, combined forces with Westercon. It made for a much larger and more diverse con, but Westercon has some VERY strict "weapon" rules. I went as a tech or mechanical wizard, with red robes (because technology is neutral), gear-stamped trim, belt hung with wrenches and such, and a big gear pendant. (And don't talk to me about glue a gear on it and call it Steampunk, the gears are relevant!) I was carrying a staff with a (LED) lightbulb in place of the crystal Raistlin Majere would have had. I was approached by Westercon staff and told politely that although my staff was nifty, I could not carry it around because of their weapons policy, which apparently forbids anything that could conceivably be used as a weapon under the most unlikely of circumstances. It was a skinny brass curtain rod with a plastic light bulb on the end!

It just takes one......  Phoenix Comic Con Incident


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