Inspect and sort your shells before the show.

Make sure the fuse caps are on. Do not remove fuse caps until you are ready to light. Look for leaking powder, rips or tears in the exposed fuse. You can make minor repairs using masking tape. Sort your shells by caliber.

How fast should you shoot shells?

Audiences like to see something in the air at all times. One shell every 5 seconds is a good place to start. On really large shows, this rate can be 2-3 seconds per shell, or faster. On smaller shows, it may be one shell every 10 seconds. It’s important not to shoot too slowly, or you will lose the audience’s attention. An intense, shorter show is more enjoyable to watch than a less intense, drawn -out show.

How long should the show last?

Intensity is more important than duration. Very rarely do our shows last more than 20 minutes (regardless of show size). Fireworks are hard on the sense. After 20 minutes or so, sensory overload results, and audiences begin to tire. Keep it short and
keep it intense.

How high do shells go?

As a general rule, it’s about 100′ per inch in caliber. A 3″ shell breaks at about 300′. A 6″ shell breaks at about 600′ and so on.

What shells should you shoot first?

You want to mix the calibers as you go along. The best and biggest shells should be fired towards the end of the display. If you shoot two or more shells at a time, fire different calibers to avoid overlapping the effects. Different calibers break at different heights.

Items to have handy

* Hardhats
* Ear plugs
* Tool box
* Flashlights
* Plastic bags
* Plastic sheets
* Safety goggles
* Have fire extinguishers on hand (or the Fire Department)
* Everyone should wear flame resistant clothing (long pants, long sleeves, no polyester, etc.)

Use common sense.

Keep lit fuses away from the shell boxes. Keep your shell boxes closed and covered. Don’t reload and fire in the same area. Don’t get your body over the mortars. Don’t smoke. Before the show, have a crew meeting and make a game plan. Safety first and always.

How close can the audience be?

The best insurance is distance. Spectator viewing areas and parking areas cannot be within specified distances. The distance – from your mortars to the spectators – is determined by multiplying the caliber of the largest shell to be fired – by 70 feet.
For example, if the largest shell to be fired is a 5″, multiply 5 times 70, which equals 350 feet (minimum) to the nearest spectator/parking area. If windy conditions are present, this distance may have to be doubled or tripled, or the show cancelled altogether. You never, ever want fallout landing in spectator areas.