Safe Weapons Guide Matthew Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org 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 detail. 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 through. 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 email@example.com.