By, Adakan Rafenson, Lord Corvus of Ordo Corvus
When inspecting Missile weapons, the steps you take will depend on whether it’s an arrow/bolt or a javelin. It is easy to tell the difference between an arrow an a javelin. And though they are similar in general shape to many spears (long Thrusting-only weapons), it is also easy to tell these two apart. For any extra help, a javelin is the only weapon that must be fully padded, has size requirements, and is required to have yellow tape on the pommel.
For javelins, much of the testing is exactly like a Thrusting-only weapon, except with minor technical difference that are stated in the Treatise of War. The main difference for javelins is that since they are Missile weapons first, and Thrusting Weapons second, they are to be tested with a flight-based strike test, which will be touched on later in the document. Make sure the striking surface is at least 3.5” in all directions using measuring tape if there is any doubt.
For arrows/bolts, make sure the minimum amount of fletchings are on the weapon, that the draw-stop is present if the arrow is long enough to need one, and that the head of the arrow is firmly secured to the shaft with very little if any twisting or wobbling. This is critical in maintaining the safety of the weapon.
In addition, if the head of an arrow looks strange or abnormal, you may want to gently test the tip of the weapon using your palm as outlined for Thrusting tips above in the document. If the owner of the arrows appears like a new player, ask them how they constructed them before testing them to make sure they did it correctly. An important subject to make clear is that they both removed the original metal arrowheads from the shafts, and used a penny or equivalent metal disk on the end of said shaft.
Make sure the arrowhead is 2.5” minimum in all directions along its striking surface. This can be tested by place a 2.5” template against the striking surface perpendicular to the shaft, and looking to see if you can only see arrowhead through the template.
Thrown weapons are exceedingly easy to inspect. All you really need to look out for is dimensional requirements being met, proper materials, and lack of hardness, as Thrown weapons are often thrown into the face. Give the Thrown weapon a squeeze to feel for any hardness, or any unforeseen strangeness. After that, move on to the strike test!
Bows & Crossbows
Checking bows is relatively easy and can be done by inexperienced checkers with a more experienced person guiding them if able. There are little things to check for in a bow. Make sure the bow has no cracks running through any part of it, and that it appears solid and well put-together.
After that, get your fishing scale and draw length string. The draw length string is a roughly 36” piece of string that is tied to the hook of the fishing scale, with a knot placed 28” away from that point on the string. Then put the knot of the measuring string up against the face of the bow arm at the center where the hand would normally be placed and, using the fishing scale hooked around the bow string, pull the string back until it is taught. As long as the fishing scale reads the max allowed poundage or less, then the bow passes, and it can be given back to the owner.
When testing Missile and Thrown weapons, extra scrutiny should be given from the backer. A Missile or Thrown weapon should cause little more than a mild, dull pain when struck against the back. Anything more than that should be considered failing, as these weapons are strike-legal to the head and neck. Always test arrows with a bow/crossbow set to the maximum allowed force output.
See our second Equipment Testing Guide for more details about strike testing.
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.