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Equipment Checking Guide 02 Melee Weapons

By, Adakan Rafenson, Lord Corvus of Ordo Corvus

Light, Heavy, and Thrusting Weapons

When inspecting a Light and Heavy weapons, first feel the weight. Weapons with only Thrusting tips do not need to be checked for weight. Hold the weapon vertically to properly judge the weight. If the weight feels like it may be close to the minimum, check it on a scale to make sure. It can help to have an already checked min-weight weapon nearby for reference.

Then, check the flex of the weapon if it seems as though it may be close to the maximum allowance. Checking flex is done simply by swinging the weapon at full force in the manner it would be used, suddenly stopping the strike, and watching to see how much the weapon flexes. For javelins and Thrusting-only weapons, treat them as you would a Light or Heavy weapon during this test. If the angle created by the bend exceeds the allotted amount stated in the Treatise of War, then the weapon fails. This angle is measured using the center-line of the weapon. It often helps to have another set of eyes watching the angle from the side!

Afterwards, run your hand along the weapon, feeling the foam and weapon thoroughly (but gently!). Feel for any looseness of the foam, or separation from the core of the weapon on all parts. If any parts are loose, depending on severity you may want to have the owner tape up the foam to the weapon in order for it to be used for the day. If you find a weapon that needs taping, it should not pass through the end of check until that has occured. Have the owner fix it up quickly and bring it back. Remember that tape can sometimes affect the strike of the weapon, so make sure to re-check this if tape was put on the striking surface.

After that move on to checking the weapon for template failures. The main areas you will be checking will be the tip of the striking surface, the pommel, and any crossguard if present. Firstly, if the weapon has a green tip, take the 2.5” template and place it gently onto the tip perpendicular (a 90° angle) to the core of the weapon at the tip. Do NOT press the template down against the weapon, and do NOT place the template at any other angle. If the foam of the weapon passes more than .5” through the template, the tip fails, and the green tape must be removed if the Light or Heavy striking surface passes. If there is a part of the striking surface of the weapon that seems like it may fail the 2.5” template, then check that by placing it parallel to the striking surface.

Repeat this procedure with the 2” template if the weapon is only Light or Heavy, as well as with the pommel of the weapon. Also use this template to check the crossguard. To do this, place the template parallel to the core of the weapon where the crossguard is, and repeat the former mentioned procedure.

If there’s a Thrusting tip, place your palm against the striking section of the tip, and apply a moderate amount of pressure to see if you can feel anything immediately wrong with the tip, like an extremely hard material such as the core, or the tip bending to either direction severely. If it feels fine, and you don’t notice any other glaring issues, proceed to strike check!

Strike Test

The strike test (also called a “hit test”) is typically the last part of checking any weapon used in Hearthlight combat. This test is arguably the most important test in determining if a weapon is safe to hit your friends with; without this test, all other safety is merely speculative. Conducting a standard strike test requires two people: a striker, and a “backer”. The striker is the volunteer who swings the weapon, and the backer is the one who receives the strike on their back, hence the name. In the case of most small Light/Thrusting weapons, a single volunteer can do both acts, but more on that in a moment.

During the standard test, the backer will stand straight with one arm reaching across their neck, and the other across the lower back in the location of the kidneys. The reasons for this is to protect those areas from a possible missed hit from the striker. While the area of the kidneys aren’t more likely to cause real injury from a strike, it does tend to cause a deeper, more uncomfortable pain that a backer would just rather avoid, especially given that a backer might be testing dozens of weapons at an event. Protecting the neck, however, is very important, as strikes there are more likely to cause injury, or at least a bad headache!

The striker will stand perpendicular to the backer for Light/Heavy weapons, and parallel for Thrusting, Missile, and Thrown. The striker will stand at a distance where they will be able to hit the backer in their back with the striking surface of the weapon. For Missile weapons, this distance is 20’.

Once the backer is ready, the striker will (with Light, Heavy, and Thrusting weapons) strike the backer with a light force hit. This can be described as a level of force that would not count as a sufficient force strike on the battlefield. If the backer gives the clear, the striker will move on to a medium force strike. This can be described as a strike that is over the force requirements of a sufficient force hit, but not nearly a full force strike. If the backer gives the clear, the striker moves next to the full force swing. This is described as a “hard as you can” strike to the backer. If a weapon has two or more sides to its striking surface, then all sides should be tested individually unless there is a clearly uniform construction. However, if it certainly not wrong to check all sides even if it does.

During these tests, the backer is feeling for very certain things, most noticeably a pain threshold, and the type of pain delivered. This is why it’s important to have experienced, and preferably the most experienced volunteers backing as much as possible. Being hit with even padded sticks causes some amount of pain. However, a backer should never experience what could be described as a sharp pain that’s deeper than the skin. A momentary, dull, muscle-deep pain caused by the thump of a strike is common, and a backer may experience a tingling sensation on their skin. This tingling should mellow within 5-10 seconds, or it may be an indication that the weapon is unsafe. Ultimately a backer is trying to determine whether or not the weapon they are being struck with is likely to cause injury if swung at all legal target areas of the body. If there isn’t an easy affirmation of a weapon passing the strike test (if the backer has to think about it) then the weapon should fail that test, and be tested again on a different, fresher back for a second opinion.

Tools of Equipment Checking

- Template: A weapon’s checking template can be made of anything such as wood, metal, or plastic, but the key is for it to have a specific shape and dimensions to aid you in checking combat equipment. The best template will have two holes that are 2” and 2.5” in diameter, and be .5” thick. This allows you to check Thrusting and non-Thrusting tips of weapons, other sections of the weapon, as well as certain armors. The template should also be exactly 6” long in at least one direction. This allows you to measure flail chain lengths and minimum striking surfaces for Light and Heavy weapons.

- ⅜” Dowel: This allows you to check chainmail armor.

- Electrical or Athletic Tape: Have extra tape on hand for all weapon and equipment color types (blue, red, green, yellow, white) in case you receive a piece of equipment that isn’t properly marked.

- Digital Scale: Allows you to weigh Light and Heavy weapons, as well as flail heads for minimum weights.

- Digital Outside Calipers: Allows accurate checking for armor thickness requirements.

- Penny: Useful in checking for spacing gaps in armor.

- Digital Fishing Scale: Used to measure bow draw weight poundage.

- Draw Length String: Used to measure the draw length of a bow while checking poundage.

- Measuring Tape: For checking weapon and various other length requirements.

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