Familiarisation in Historic Weapons – The Vickers Machine Gun


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The purpose of this course is to provide the learner with a basic understanding of machine gun capability with the Vickers machine gun as the item of equipment.

The Vickers machine gun saw service with the British Army from 1912 to 1968. The machine gun went from being the Army’s only automatic firepower in 1912 (with the Maxim and the Vickers in service) to one of a multitude of available small arms by 1968. Although replaced in role by the L7 General Purpose Machine Gun, the Vickers has not been matched for its ability to provide long periods of sustained fire in the manner it was used at the end of the Great War and the Second World War.

This course will provide four hours of continuous professional development that will involve the historical analysis and understanding of the weapon and the wider system of training, equipment, infrastructure, doctrine and tactics, organisation, information and logistics.

The learner will receive training on the normal safety precautions and basic drills used to fire the Vickers machine gun. It will culminate in a blank firing demonstration and, where legally permitted to do so, the learners will be able to participate.

Learners will receive a retail copy of The Vickers Machine Gun: Pride of the Emma Gees (Goldsmith, Fisher, Segel and Shea, 2021), worth £129.95, as part of their participation in the course. This is the most comprehensive work published on the Vickers Machine Gun, covering all aspects of its use and service around the world. It includes a technical ‘handbook’ chapter as well.

The structure of the course will be based on the Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of Personal Weapons developed by the Defence Awarding Organisation. The subjects include:

  • Understanding the safety implications when handling the Vickers Machine Gun and ammunition.
  • Understanding the characteristics of the Vickers Machine Gun.
  • Understanding the working parts of the Vickers Machine Gun.
  • Being able to load and unload the Vickers Machine Gun.
  • Being able to conduct stoppage drills.
  • Being able to strip and assemble the Vickers Machine Gun.
  • Being able to clean and maintain the Vickers Machine Gun.

This is not an accredited qualification course but attendees will receive a certificate of attendance confirming the four hours of continuous professional development awarded by the Vickers MG Collection & Research Association. Attendees will receive sufficient information to undertake the ‘Safe to Handle’ and ‘Safe to Use’ level assessments identified in the course material (these assessments are not included in the course cost).

The attendees for this course will include service personnel, museum and collection professionals, registered firearms dealers, living historians and other interested parties. To participate in the firing demonstrations, the learner must be suitably accredited (contact to discuss).

Are you legally permitted to handle prohibited weapons?(required)

Additional information


Date to be arranged., Tuesday 10 October 2023, Thursday 25 January 2024


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