Pacific NorthWest Historical Group

Questions and Answers:

What is reenacting and living history?
Living history is someone putting together a collection of articles that represent a person in a specific, historical time period. This collection of articles is generally called someone's "impression." Beyond the simple collection, living history involves someone wearing and using their collection acting and talking in a historical manner. In essence this actor becomes immersed in the time period. Reenacting is a bunch of living historians re-living a particular moment in history.

Where do you reenact?
Most of our public battles are located at Fort Stevens -- an old WWII costal artillery base which has been made into an Oregon State Park. For more information on Fort Stevens and our upcoming events, visit our public events page. In addition to our public battles, we hold private tactical events at various locations throughout Oregon (such as Camp Rilea). If you own a large amount of land and are interested in hosting the PNWHG on your property, we would be very interested in talking with you.

Are real guns used?
There is something electrifying and yet humbling about holding and using a historical firearm. Coupled with authentic tactics, uniforms, equipment, and vehicles using anything less would be inadequate. Although we don't require that the specific weapon be dated during WWII it must be the same model (for example Danish stamped M1's are adequate an M14 would not). For more information on what is acceptable, contact a unit commander.

How do you know if you're hit?
Although the guns are real, we obviously don't use real ammunition. We use blank ammunition produced by a respected company that makes blanks for Hollywood (they were in Saving Private Ryan for example). The result of a blank being fired is a significant muzzle flash. If the end of the rifle was pointed directly at you it is quite easy to see the flash. Given pre-determined rules of engagement such as topography, accuracy, and range of the weapon the reenactor (in good faith) "takes a hit."

Can I load my own blank ammunition or purchase it from someone else?
In general ordering ammunition from one source ensures quality and safety. If you have a different source your unit commander will need to discuss the proposition with the unit commanders committee.

Is it expensive?
Yes. The most significant cost for the allies is their weapon, a US Caliber .30 M1 (nicknamed the "Garand"), whilst living historians portraying a German soldier face expensive uniform costs. Expect to spend over $1000 to get started.

Where can I purchase the equipment I need?
The least expensive places to find equipment are small antique shops, thrift stores, and garage sales but WWII items are becoming increasingly difficult to find in such locations. eBay can often be used as a source for origional equipment -- but it is easy to spend too much. Items that are cost-prohibitive to find in origional condition can be found as a reproduction item at many vendors available online. As quality varies between manufacturers check with your unit commander for approved sources.

I have everything but a rifle -- is it possible to borrow one?
Your unit commander may be able to find one that you are able to borrow on a temporary basis.

Is the PNWHG a non-profit organization
Yes! This cuts down on our insurance costs and allows charitable donations. If you are interested in donating, email any unit commander.

Are women allowed to reenact?
Women can reenact in positions allowed by the Army (US or German) during WWII. In general these were not front-line positions and they were absolutely not combat positions. If you are interested in creating a female impression within the PNWHG talk to a unit commander who most closely linked with your position of interest. Possible positions include Red Cross workers, Women's Army Corps, and correspondents.

Can I make my own impression?
Any new units will need to be authorized by the Unit Commanders Committee. Individual impressions (such as photographer, chaplain, etc) would be attached to a particular unit. Talk with the unit commander you would be most likely to be attached to or work with. The above caveat applies only to those wishing to participate in events with their impression... there is, of course, nothing that prevents you from researching and developing an alternate impression for your own benefit (and most likely others would be interested to learn more). It's just that we would rather not have a platoon filled with more correspondents, chaplains, and medics than infantry.

Is reenacting physically tough?
Reenacting is a strenuous activity that takes place outside using authentic tactics over the course of a weekend. The nature of the activity requires that you be in decent physical condition. For example: one of the basic maneuvers for a rifle squad is "fire and maneuver" the premise of which is while your buddy covers you by suppressing firepower you get up (you were lying down) run full speed for a few steps and then flatten yourself to the ground again. You then provide suppressive firepower while your buddy gets up runs a few steps and flattens. Repeat. You are doing this while wearing a wool uniform and carrying ammunition, water, a shovel, your rifle and other equipment. That having been said I would like to emphasize the "decent" modifier to "physical condition." Most of us realize we could probably be in better shape ourselves.

So, how do I get involved?
Simply visit our "join" page and follow the instructions there! And thanks for your interest in the PNWHG!