Weapons Check

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At major events and practices, the hosts will conduct a weapons check to ensure that weapons are safe and adhere to the Book of War. No weapon, shield, or piece of armor should be taken to the field without passing through weapons check. Most weapons check will have a head Marshal who has the final say on whether a weapon passes or fails. Failed equipment will usually be marked with a sticker describing why of failed. There are also Nationally Certified Marshals who have demonstrated superior knowledge of the Book of War and weapons checking.

Weapons check is a requirement of the Book of War, specifically:

1.2. All Equipment must be inspected and properly marked if appropriate, according to the guidelines outlined in Appendix A, before it is used in combat.


Running Weapons Check

Prior Training

Every person volunteering to help run weapons check should read and understand the rules laid out in the Book of War, particularly Appendix A. If you are unfamiliar with the rules pertaining to a particular weapon, do not check it. Ask the head Marshal or another weapons checker to assist you. When possible, it is recommended all checkers obtain the National Marshal Certification. Should a local class or expert be available for training prior to the event, seek them out to learn common conventions used that are not specifically spelled out in the Book of War.

Equipment Needed

  1. A flexible tape measure.
  2. A template with the appropriate measurements. When in doubt, measure the template to double check it is correct.
  3. A bow tester
  4. A scale
  5. Pass stickers
  6. Fail stickers and a marker/pen
  7. An up to date copy of the Book of War
  8. For larger events, flags/signs to mark where each class of weapon should be dropped off
  9. Adequate space to swing larger weapons and shoot arrows
  10. Cones can be used to mark off the space, if needed

Using a Template

Relevant Rules

All Weapons

1.3.3. Two and one-half inch rule—No surface on a striking edge (sword tip, arrow head, spear head, javelin head, etc.) whether designed for stabbing or not, may pass more than 0.5 inch through a 2.5 inch hole; swords with a semicircular tip, with a minimum 1.5 inch radius are exempt from this rule.

1.3.4. The Weapon pommel may not readily pass more than 0.5" (1.25 cm) through a 2" (5 cm) diameter hole.

Flails The maximum chain/hinge length is six (6) inches (15 cm). The hinged part of the flail must be padded with foam to keep the chain from easily entangling a Weapon or body part. No more than 1 ½ inches (3.75 cm) of chain may be exposed.

The Test

When testing sword tips and pommels, place the template gently on top of the weapon, making sure you avoid using excessive pressure that will force the foam to compress. Usually, the weight of the template is sufficient. Wobble the template around, checking to see if it will readily pass through the hole from different angles.

For a .5" thick template, any amount of the weapon passing through the hole means it has failed the test. All tests are measured from the face of the template closest to the weapon, should you need to use a tape to measure for smaller templates. If a sword tip does pass through the hole, remember to check the width of the blade. A minimum 3" wide blade with a semicircular tip is exempt from this rule (it has a 1.5" radius, as the rule states). Some templates have a 3" notch on one side that can be used to check this. If the blade touches both sides (or is wider), the tip is exempt.

One side of the template is 6". This is the maximum chain length allowed for a flail. Usually, that same side has a 1.5" notch, this is the maximum exposed chain (not covered by foam). Holding the flail vertically by the ball, push all of the foam pieces to the bottom of the chain. Place the template between the ball and stick, it only has to touch both sides to pass. While checking chain length, ensure you cannot see more of the rope/cloth than the 1.5" notch. Again, it can be up to this width on the dot, and still pass.

Weigh and Measure

If using a postage scale, ensure that it is on a level surface. Any angle will reduce the reading. Make sure that there is sufficient room for weapons to rest freely upon the top without making contact with another surface. Zero it out before checking a weapon. If you have a known weight, it may be wise to calibrate the scales at the beginning of weapons check.

When measuring, avoid putting excessive pressure on the tape or weapon. For example, squeezing the flail head too tightly will give a false reading on the tape.

Relevant Rules

1.4.1. Class 1 - All Class 1 Weapons must conform to the following, as applicable: A Class 1 Weapon under twenty-four (24) inches (60 cm) in length has no weight minimum. A Class 1 Weapon twenty-four (24) inches (60 cm) in length or longer must weigh a minimum of twelve (12) ounces (350 g). With the exception of double-ended weapons, a Class 1 Weapon must be shorter than forty-eight (48) inches (120 cm). The maximum handle length for a Class 1 Weapon is eighteen (18) inches (45 cm) or one-third (1/3) of the overall length, whichever is greater. This cannot exceed one-half (1/2) of the overall length. The minimum overall length of a Class 1 is 12 inches (30 cm) plus the length of the handle and pommel.

1.4.2. Class 2 - All Class 2 Weapons must conform to the following: The minimum length is forty-eight (48) inches (120 cm). The minimum weight is twenty-four (24) ounces (700 g). The maximum handle length for Class 2 Weapons is eighteen (18) inches (45 cm) or one-third (1/3) of the overall length, whichever is greater. This cannot exceed one-half (1/2) of the overall length.

1.4.3. Class 3 - All Class 3 Weapons must conform to the following: If the Weapon is Class 3 only, it has no weight restriction. The maximum handle length for Class 3 Weapons is 2/3 of its overall length. If the Weapon is Class 3 only, it may not have a yellow cover.

1.4.4. Swords must conform to the following: If the Weapon has a semicircular tip with a minimum 1.5 inch (3.75 cm) radius, it is exempt from rule Appendix A, 1.3.3. Single-edge Weapons must have their non-striking edge clearly marked with at least a 12-inch (30 cm) piece of contrasting tape.

1.4.5. Flails must conform to the following: The striking surface must haves a minimum circumference of fifteen (15) inches (40 cm) measured on separate axes. The maximum chain/hinge length is six (6) inches (15 cm). The maximum overall length is forty (40) inches (100 cm). The hinged part of the flail must be padded with foam to keep the chain from easily entangling a Weapon or body part. No more than 1 ½ inches (3.75 cm) of chain may be exposed. Only one hinge per flail is allowed. Only the head of a flail is a striking surface.

1.4.6. Double-ended Weapons must conform to all of the following: Double-ended Weapons must not be more than 7 feet (210 cm) long. Double-ended Weapons must have a minimum of 18 inches (45 cm) in length of padding covering each end in a cylindrical fashion. Both striking surfaces of this weapon must follow Class 3 Weapon standards for a Double-ended Weapon to be legal. Regardless of length, a Double-ended Weapon is a Class 1 Weapon when swung and Class 3 when thrust.

Weapon Checkers Discretion

Marshals, the Head Marshal in particular, have the final say on whether a piece of equipment is safe and allowed on the field. This is often referred to as "weapon checkers discretion". Should a weapon seem to pass for all requirements presented in the Book of War, but still be unsafe in some way, a Marshal may still fail it. These situations are somewhat rare, but include things like a weapon being too heavy to wield safely, entanglement hazards from holes in covers, or any other danger not presented in the rules.

Discretion may be used by weapons checkers and event staff to pass weapons that otherwise violate rules, but are safe. A classic example is a "Red Rock" used by some local realms which fails the rules for a class 2 weapon, but their realm has agreed to allow it and extra rules for it for fun because it is safe. Never expect an experimental weapon to pass, but it is possible if it is safe and doesn't hinder playability. Another case is armor made from non-period materials that otherwise meets all requirements and is crafted in an appealing way. This is strictly a violation of the rules for armor, but may be passed by some Marshals on a case by case basis.

Again, this is a case by case, event by event, basis. Head Marshals at each event have the final say. Realms may also have specific rules for their local events. When in doubt, ask ahead of time.

One Handed Weapons

Hand Check

Start every check by feeling the blade, pommel, and flat with your hands. Look for imperfections, soft spots, or hard areas. This cursory check, after template checking, it to find obvious fail points. Any haft padding should be thick enough that firm pressure doesn't allow you to feel core. Be extra critical any near the edge of the blade. This area is more likely to hit full force on someone, even as an incidental hit.

To check the tip (high likelihood of a core fail) place pommel against one hip, and the tip against your palm in the opposite hand. Apply gentle pressure to the middle of the blade with your free hand. If you feel a hard point in the middle of your palm, it is probably the core, fail for core. Repeat this after turning blade over, if you haven't already failed it.

Rather than bust out at the end of the core, bats will often shear off the tip beyond the core. To check for this, grab the tip and move it side to side. You shouldn't be able to move it much. Failing bats, you can feel a soft spot there and feel the tip dislocate above it during the test. This is more critical and common for bats with a stabbing tips.

Next, hold middle of blade and the tip. Gently twist and release the tip. A good sword will snap back into place. A failing sword will remain deformed, fail for twist.

Checking weapon flex is harder to check without some sort of template. You can place the striking surface across your head, and pull down with both hands. You should have a decent amount of resistance and not be able to easily get your hands to shoulder height. This is something that only a seasoned tester is going to have a feel for.

The better method is to mark 45 degrees somehow, from a table or bench. Strike the surface squarely near the middle of the blade. Have a second observer watch to see if the blade passes past the mark. Repeat the check a couple of times. You can use a padded surface, such as a shield edge, to mitigate the chance of damaging the weapon, however, extra padding will artificially show more flex as the surface gives. The use of a padded surface or shield edge does test the most common reason the flex rule exists, flexing excessively around someone's guard.

Firmly tug the pommel, it shouldn't move much or be in danger of falling off. Feel it for hard spots, particularly in the end. Drop the pommel onto a hard surface, concrete preferably, but a table or bench works. You should not hear a "clank".

4# box construction will have a layer of dense foam wrapped around the core. This is considered safe and acceptable for the flat of a blade. We mostly are concerned with a piece of fiberglass finding its way out of the foam and hurting someone.

Hit Test

If a weapon has been hand checked and passed, hit test it. Strike yourself forcefully in the calf, thigh, or arm. Ask yourself "do I want to get hit with this?", and "would I want some big scary fighter to hit me with this?".

Any weak spots in the blade may specifically be tested against a wrist bone to feel for core.

Awkward weapons may require testing on someone else.

Your goal is to fail weapons that either A) don't meet BoW standards, or B) are likely to cause personal injury on the field. Personal injury is fairly subjective. A perfectly safe weapon can cause bruises or even a broken finger in extreme cases. You need to eliminate weapons likely to cause cuts (from core), eye injury (core or template), concussions (weight, poor foam), and other serious injury. If you feel any sharp pains, that is probably core, fail for core. If it hits like a brick across the whole surface, fail for hit.

When in doubt, fail it or ask another checker to double check. Head weapons checker has authority to overrule or fail anything they wish, they set the standard for the event.


Be sure to pull on the chain while checking a flail. If it stretches easily, fail it.

While looking at the haft padding, be extra critical of the padding near the end of the handle. This is going to hit people full force quite commonly, so it should be tested more stringently.

Thrusting Weapons

First, twist on the tip like you would a sword blade. This is to check that the core is attached to the foam. Apply a bending force on the tip, much like checking for core on a flat. Ensure that the tip does not stay bent or shift a little to the side. These are indicators that the foam is failing or has sheared off above the core. Even if the stabbing tip foam is no longer attached to core or surrounding foam, the tape and/or the cover may be keeping it in place. These first tests are designed to catch those cases, particularly for bats.

After ensuring the tip is secure, press down on the center of the tip, directly in line with the core. You should not feel the point of the core or a substantially harder spot underneath. If you feel harder foam below it, the stabbing foam is likely to fail a hit test.

Two methods are often used for hit checking stabs. The one person test is less realistic, but may be used if weapon checkers are limited. Try to limit one person testing to those weapons that are not on the borderline of failing.

To do a one person test, hold the weapon with both hands with the stabbing tip pointed towards you hip bone. Stab your hip bone firmly. You shouldn't be able to feel core, and there should be a decent amount of give at first.

It is generally advisable to test on a different person's back. Start off with a light-medium stab to their back. If they feel it is safe, try a hard stab. They may have some residual pain, but not a sharp or long lasting.

Note, during the stab, the tip of the weapon may deflect or bend. This is ok, as long as it returns to its natural position after the stab and is securely affixed (which it should be, since you already hand checked it). If the deflection is too severe, it will likely fail for hit.

Single vs double handed stabs. It is less important how many hands you have behind your stab, as long as you place good, hard, accurate stabs. Regardless of debate, most test stabs should hit harder than they do on the field, even single handed.


Hand Test

Strap Shields

Start by feeling the face of the shield for any defects in the foam or hard objects (such as metal from a handle being attached through the foam). Next, feel the edge of the shield with one hand, again looking for defects in the foam or exposed core. With your other hand following behind, strike the edge forcefully. You shouldn't be able to feel any core through the edge. The leading hand is there to make sure you don't hit a bad spot in the foam unexpectedly or something stuck in the shield cover (like mulch). Go around the entire edge of the shield this way, focusing on the weakest foam/sections you can find.

While feeling around the edge, try to wobble the edge foam. It should be firmly attached to the core. Significant separation here can lead to someone catching a piece of the core in the face during a bash or other shield contact.

Also make sure that the core of the shield isn't overly flexible. It shouldn't be possible to touch one edge of the shield to the other. This is called "tacoing".

Inspect the back of the shield. Ensure all bolts are secure and not protruding a significant amount. Grabbing the handle and arm strap, shake the shield. If the edges are not firmly attached, they will wobble loose of the core.

Punch (Coreless) Shields

Feel around the face and edges of the shield, looking for anything hard or sharp. Firmly strike the edges of the shield closest to the handle, trying to see if you can feel the handle through the foam.

On the back of the shield, ensure there are no sharp edges exposed near the edge (where it is more likely to come into contact with someone. The glue commonly used to adhere the handle can leave hard/sharp areas which are usually covered with duct tape. Just make sure they aren't a danger in common combat situations. Grab the handle and shake the shield. Make sure it is firmly attached.

Relevant Rules

2.1. Shields must be padded on the edges and face so as not to cause injury when struck with a forceful blow of an arm/hand. 2.2. The maximum width of a shield is 3 feet (90 cm). 2.3. The maximum height of a shield is 18 inches (45 cm) less than the height of the wielder. 2.4. The minimum dimension on the face of a shield is 12 inches (30 cm). 2.5. Shield spikes are allowed for decoration.

Two Handed Weapons

Hand Check

Two handed weapons are checked following the much the same methods as testing a one handed weapon of the same type. When checking incidental padding, be extra critical of any near the blade of a swung weapon. This area is the most likely to hit someone full force. The rest of the hand check is identical to the one handed weapons.

If something is questionable at this stage, fail it. You are going to hit/be hit with these weapons, and two handed weapons are far more dangerous if something goes wrong. Save your backs and fail what you can at this point.

Flex Test

To flex test a red weapon, there are a number of methods. You will need an observer to stand 90 degrees to the blade (to your side). Ideally, you will have some sort of surface to hit that has been marked for a 45 degree angle to test swung weapons. Thrusting only weapons can flex up to 90 degrees.

To test flex without such a surface, swing the weapon vertically and stop at 45 degrees. It is up the observer to judge if the weapon flexed more than it was supposed to. Do this a few times so the observer can get a chance to better judge the angle.

Hit Test

Avoid hitting the same people in the back with a two handed weapon over and over. After a few good hits, their back will become overly sensitive, and even an passable weapon might fail for hit. Hit testing is not specifically required in the Book of War, but it is the most surefire way ensure a weapon is safe enough for the field.

Find a volunteer back to hit. Find adequate space to swing a larger weapon. Start with a light-medium hit. The person being hit should be covering their neck and kidneys, leaving you a strike zone in the middle of their back. After the hit, give them a second to recover and judge how the hit felt. A light hit shouldn't cause them to wince or hesitate to pass the weapon. If they feel a continuous, sharp area of pain across their back at any point during the test, immediately fail the weapon for hit.

Move on the a medium hit, then a hard hit. Medium hits will have a little sting, but again, no lasting pain. Hard hits will hurt, but the pain should subside within a few seconds. After checking one side of the weapon, try the other side. If the hard hit on the first side wasn't too bad, you can start directly with a hard hit on the opposite side.


Missile Weapons











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