Using blank ammo for track and field competitions

Using blank ammo for track and field competitions

Track and field officials are referees charged with overseeing track and field competitions. One of the most critical aspects of these competitions is making sure the competitors have a clear indication that the race has begun. Often, this is accomplished through the use of a starter's pistol, which is a type of blank-firing revolver. The official starting the race will discharge a starter's pistol to signal the start, creating a loud bang and visual flash.

An official fires a starter's pistol, signaling the start of the race


While some officials use real guns, blank-firing starter's pistols are considered safer, especially in high school and collegiate environments. Starter's pistols function identically to a real revolver. However, they cannot chamber any live round, making them a much safer alternative to real guns.

At, we carry a .38 Special Blank-Firing Revolver. It is a double-action revolver with a 3" barrel and a 5-shot swing-out cylinder. Made by Bruni of Italy, this gun will chamber any .380 caliber (9mm RK) revolver cartridge, making it a favorite of track and field officials across the country.

Today, most starting pistols are hooked to a speaker to ensure all competitors simultaneously hear the gun discharge. In the past, competitors closest to the official would hear the gunshot sooner, leading to an unfair advantage. Some track and field officials have done away with firearms entirely, relying on electronic devices to signal the start of the race.

Back to blog