Well, let’s put it this way, if you belong to a re-enactment society that uses black powder and/or de-activated or replica firearms that go bang, you have NAReS to thank for it – yes, really. The association was founded within weeks of the IRA lobbing a mortar into Downing Street using black powder. It became very obvious that Government had not really paid a great deal of attention to black powder up until that moment but were suddenly aware that it was a dangerous substance that needed certainly regulating and probably banning altogether.
There was no central voice to represent the perfectly legitimate pastime of historical re-creation that so many enjoyed and re-enactor’s views and interests needed to be properly presented to Government when legislation was enacted. By insisting on having representation on the right committees and approaching decision makers in a correct and businesslike fashion, NAReS gained the respect of the most senior civil servants. Thus, our hobby was accepted – not without a struggle – as a reasonable excuse in English law for the storage, transport and use of “weapons” that would otherwise have been long made illegal. It is not just firearms either. Because of our earlier work, when edged weapons came under more recent scrutiny, it was possible to ensure that the re-enactment use of this military hardware also received a sympathetic ear. Once established, this role has successfully continued, a watching brief is maintained and a dialogue is opened with the Police and Government Departments when an issue arises. This position is only maintained whilst we represent the great majority of re-enactors in the UK and we need the support of YOUR society – regardless of the period you represent - to continue our work.
We provide a common sense framework of suggested courses of action to re-enactors that we refer to as Guidance Notes. A democratically elected body in its own right, NAReS cannot insist upon any particular activity, but drawing upon the years of experience of our member societies, they represent carefully-worded suggestions as to what best practice might be in any particular set of circumstances. Our concern is the good of the many and these Guidance Notes are not an advantage of membership, but are freely available from our website so that all may benefit from our work. Even such simple things as a suggested Constitution and Rules structure is available for the asking, enabling people coming together to pursue a mutual interest to save considerable time and effort. From time to time, we run sessions such as our specialist courses, arrange conferences and provide specialist speakers at our AGM.
It has become the norm as we approach our twentieth anniversary that the police and licensing authorities grow ever more aware of our stance and influence throughout the hobby. In their view, people in a group affiliated to NAReS are more likely to be properly trained, competent and trustworthy. This is partly due to our stringent entry rules and partly as membership of the Association is perceived as something of a “coming of age”. It is perfectly possible that, within a few years, it will not be possible to get a license without the group to which the applicant belongs being in NAReS membership.
On the business front, an ever increasing number of outside agencies approach NAReS looking for recommendations for a re-enactment society for an event or for filmwork. In these instances, we naturally only recommend our own members.
Like any representational body, we hold an AGM every year (usually in November) where the voice of our member societies can be heard. The Executive Committee only meets four times a year, but all EC members are electronically linked & any urgent matters can be swiftly dealt with
Please feel free to have a really good look at the website. It will answer many of the questions people have about us & you will find our Guidance Notes and contact information, a list of our member societies and an indication of the working sub-committees.
We feel very strongly that although not all re-enactment societies in the UK are members of NAReS, it is up to us to arrange matters so that all may benefit from our efforts. We seek no particular recognition or reward, but expect and hope that all will appreciate & support our work by seeking membership. Our annual fees are deliberately kept to a minimum and the more members we have, the louder our voice!
If you are an individual re-enactor, perhaps you should be asking your club or society if it is a member of NAReS – and if not – why not...