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post #28 of Old 02-03-2012
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Shooting a red emergency flare in the USA without prior permission or in an emergency is illegal. The white ones are for practice. “Flare gun” is a misnomer, the correct terminology is “flare launcher”. The USCG, ATF and homeland Security do not consider them to be a “fire arm” (but they do have plenty of rules and restrictions regarding pyrotechnic devices). Every so often our club does a “flare day” where we practice launching flares and smoke off one of our docks. We get USGC permission first (we are located across from one of their major bases). The SOLAS flares are the best, bar none. I have had 100% success with ones that were over 25 years old. The problem is the rule requires replacement if they are over 40 months old. If you have the chance, go to either a Safety at Sea seminar or organize your own flare day. It will be an eye opener. The USCG approved aerial flares are really only good for night time use and the hand held flares sputter and throw off so much slag that you really need to wear a sailing glove. I shudder to think what they would do to a rubber life raft. The 12ga USCG flares are particularly anemic and I went to the 20mm size to get better brightness and hang time.
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