Safe Weapons Guide

Matthew Morgan

Quick Guide to Weapons Checking


This is fairly much a common sense guide to checking the usability of

L.R.P. weapons.  I've tired not to get too bogged down with too much


The obvious main part of weapons checking is to see that there is

enough foam padding covering the solid core of the weapon, also that

the foam is soft enough.

On light/balanced weapons, such as swords and daggers, with only a small

hitting area a higher density foam is required to protect the victim

from the core.  Check that this foam is not disintergrating, as old

foam can, and is well glued so that the core can not find its way


Pay special attention to where the core ends in the tip of the weapon

as this tends to break first, bear in mind that a lot of swords have

flexible tip protecting layers between the foam, so what you're

feeling might not be the core.  Do be gentle with the weapon, squeeze

the foam between thumb and forefinger to feel for any deterioration

and to check the thickness of padding.  Do not bend the tip to check

it, as this will almost certainly damage it.  On a hitting surface of

a blade, I suggest there should be no less than 1cm thickness of foam,

and on the non--hitting surfaces e.g. flats, there should be no less

than .5cm.

On heavier headed weapons, such as maces and clubs, the foam is

normally softer and thicker than on a sword.  Check the foam as before

to see that the core is well padded including over the top of the mace

and bear in mind the heaviness of the weapon compared to the hardness

of the foam. i.e. The heavier the weapon the softer it should be.  No

one intends to hit with the haft of these weapons but it does happen,

check that the haft is padded well enough, normally 1 -- 1.5cm.

On long weapons such as staves, spear and polearms, it is possible to

be hit with almost any part of the surface of the weapon, and with the

increased length it is harder to pull blows so the padding should be

thicker.  On blades of spears and polearms, normally around 3cm is

adequate and on staves, over 2cm is sensible.  Some spears have an

extra soft tip, the weapon should be checked bearing in mind that

these softer tips can bend out of the way and the core must be

completely protected by the foam below.  (Theoretically some of these

soft tipped spears are usable as stabbing weapons, however I advise

that they not be used that way for the reason that, Joe

L. R. P. Bloggs gets stabbed with your ``safe'' spear, he stabs back

with his, without thinking that his might not be ``safe''.)  It should

also be pointed out that a long staff or polearm should not be weilded

like a sword, they are not balanced for this.  One hand at least

should always be kept near the middle of the weapon.

Flail weapons, any weapons where the hitting surface is not solidly

connected to the handle, in my opinion, can not be made usable for

live role play.  By their very nature you can not pull your blows with

these weapons.  If you MUST allow them, make sure ther are very light,

very soft and in the hands of someone very sensible.

Shields must also be checked, even though people should not be hit by

them.  Weapons hit shields and then go on to hit people, it is vital

that the weapon not be damaged by the shield and made unsafe.  The

edge of a shield must be well padded and there should be no sharp

edges/points that could damage the weapons to be blocked.

Bows are a different set of problems, they must no be too powerful.  I

suggest that 25lbs draw weight is advisable, 30lbs maximum.  However,

do not allow compound bows (the ones with pulleys on) as they give the

arrow much more energy for the same draw weight.  When firing a bow,

the user must be aware of the distance to the target and that full

draw of the bow is inadvisable at close range.  At very close range it

is sensible not to fire the bow at all and to just have an assumed

hit, communicated by the verbal ``point blank'' or some such

expression.  With crossbows this is even more important, as they can

not be fired with less than maximum draw.

Arrows must all be checked carefully, and the suer of the bow must be

told to visually check each arrow before firing it.  The head of the

arrow must be well padded with a high density foam, to hold the shaft

secure.  A solid blocker must be contained within the high density

foam to stop the shaft from breaking through.  (These can usually be

felt through the foam, but if you are unsure ask the owner if you can

take one arrow at random to cut up.  If they are unwilling do not

allow the arrows.)  The face of the arrow should also have a layer of

low density foam to absorb the impact and the head of the arrow MUST

be wide enough so that it cannot penetrate an eyesocket, about 5cm.

The shaft must have no cracks in it and should be reasonably straight,

it should be a quality arrowshaft and not a piece of dowel, as dowel

is not made to stand up to the forces involved.  The shaft should be

securely fitted to the arrow head and also have flights of some sort

to stop the arrow turning in mid air.

Quite often you will be called upon to check weapons that have been

repaired, and some more points come to light.  Repairs can easily be

made with ``gaffa'' tape, but the repair must still be soft enough.

With the higher densities of foam on swords, quite often the tape will

make a hard sharp edge.  Also, if the foam is breaking down or too

thin, merely putting tape over it will do no good at all.  Sometimes

the foam is glued back together, check that there is not a hard build

up of glue within the foam.

Throwing weapons should be soft, light and in F & H must have no core.

They should have no sharp points which could damage eyes.  If covered

with tape check that no hard corners are present.

The most important part of a weapons' ``safety'' is the user.  No

weapon can be passed as ``safe'' only usable.  Remember that the most

usable weapon can hurt if incorrectly used.

If anyone wants more info about weapons and making them they can write

to me at Matthew Morgan, 145 Bolingbroke Rd., Lower Stoke, Coventry,

CV3 1AR. email