Updated 16 December 2022
Starter pistols and caps are generally kept with sporting equipment, as they are used for athletics and swimming events. They are also sometimes used for sound experiments in science. Check to see if your school, or school jurisdiction, has any established policies and procedures for the use of starter pistols and comply with these.
Caps for starter pistols are classified as Dangerous Goods Class 1.4 explosives1 and are sensitive to ignition from friction, abrasion, static electricity and impact. They should not be carried in pockets or hands as burn Injuries have occurred from accidental ignition.2
Storage of starter caps
Starter caps should be stored:3, 4
- Securely in a locked cupboard, to prevent unauthorised access.
- Segregated from all other classes of Dangerous Goods classes, in a cool dry place.
- In minimal quantities in rigid plastic spark proof containers which are clearly labelled as explosive.
- Separately from the starting pistol(s).
- Away from ignition sources such as heat and naked flames.
- Away from contact with metal or sharp objects.
If your starter pistol resembles a firearm, your school may not allow you to have one of this style. If your school does allow this type of starter pistol you may need to obtain a Firearms Permit from your state/territory regulator.
These must be in place to use a starter pistol:3, 4
- Only a minimal quantity of caps should be carried.
- Care should be taken when inserting caps into the starter pistol.
- Hearing protection should be worn by staff using the pistol and those in close proximity.
- The pistol should be fired at arms-length above the shoulder and not pointed at anyone.
- Students are not allowed to operate a starting gun.
- All spent or partially spent caps should be safely disposed of according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Starter caps should be included in the school’s hazardous chemical register.
Schools may want to consider alternative starting devices such as whistles, horns, starting clap board, portable PA system or electronic starting pistols.
1 National Transport Commission website, Australian dangerous goods code, (2020), ‘Australian Code for the Transport of Explosives by Road and Rail - edition 7.7’, https://www.ntc.gov.au/codes-and-guidelines/australian-dangerous-goods-code
2 Resources, Safety and Health, Queensland website, (2013, November 25), ‘Starter gun caps ignite in pocket’, https://www.rshq.qld.gov.au/safety-notices/explosives/gun-caps-ignite-pocket
3 Queensland Department of Education website, (2022, October), search ‘Starting pistols and caps - version 3’, https://education.qld.gov.au/
4 Victoria police website, (2022, May), bottom of page ‘Quick guide to blank firing firearms for re-enactments and starting sporting events – version 5’, https://www.police.vic.gov.au/firearms-forms-and-reference-information
Victorian Department of Education, (2014, April), ‘Workplace Health and Safety Hazard Alert: Starting Gun Caps’ , https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/principals/management/...
NSW Police force website, (2019, November), 'FIREARMS REGISTRY Starting Pistol Permit', see https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/133228/Startin... (This document contains storage information)