How-to Weapon Check

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Foremost remember you're checking to see that a weapon is SAFE for use on the field. If there is any question to whether a weapon should pass or fail, consult with the head weapons checker. If no conclusion can be reached, air on the side of caution and fail it.


Getting Started

Ensure that your weapons checkers have the following:

  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. Pass stickers
  5. Fail stickers and a marker/pen
  6. An up to date copy of the Book of War
  7. For larger events, flags/signs to mark where each class of weapon should be dropped off
  8. Adequate space to swing larger weapons and shoot arrows
  9. Cones can be used to mark off the space, if needed

Important points to always remember:

  1. You're there to check weapons, not break them. Use the pad of your thumb and fingers to feel the weapon; never dig your nails or fingertips into a weapon and don't TRY to fail a weapon-- all deserve objective testing.
  2. Pommels and tips are the most frequent points of failure. Check them first and you will save time.
  3. If you can ever easily feel the weapon core through anything except handle the weapon FAILS.
  4. If the striking surface is considerably detached from the core, the weapon FAILS.
  5. Only check weapons you know how to check, seek training before getting involved.
  6. If you're feeling considerably uncertain about a weapon's safety or hit strength, get a 2nd opinion.

The following tips and order of checking process should make you an efficient and effective weapon checker.

Melee Weapons:

  1. Give all weapons a quick glance-over before checking them and you will notice likely problem points immediately (such as illegal handle length, large hole in the cover, etc.)
  2. Weigh & measure the weapon as necessary to assure it meets its class requirements. Experienced weapons checkers may skip weapons that obviously pass this step.
  3. Use the template to check the pommel ( using 2" hole) and tip (using 2.5" hole) of the weapon. If any portion easily goes past a .5" thick template, it FAILS. Remember the Two and a Half Inch Rule has an exception for rounded tips with a 1.5" radius.
  4. For flails, use the template to check chain length (6") and exposed chain (1.5") while letting the ball or handle swing freely, all aligned vertically. Remember, the sides of the template only have to touch the ball and handle at the same time.
  5. Start with the pommel: Press your thumb around the bottom of the pommel feeling for core. Grip around the pommel and gently try to pull it up and down and wobble it side to side. If you feel any core or if the pommel is detached from the weapon, it FAILS. You may also drop the weapon, pommel first, onto a hard surface. If you hear a clank it FAILS.
  6. Go up and down the striking surface and haft padding feeling & briefly squeezing with your palms. Get a feel for if there are 'sweet spots' (small places where the padding is considerably worn) in the padding and most of all make sure you can't feel core.
  7. Put the pommel against your hip and hold the tip of the sword in your opposite hand, flat of the blade against your palm. With your free hand, apply pressure to the middle of the blade and feel for core in the palm of your hand at the tip. Do the same for the other side of the blade. If you feel a hard spot from the core, it FAILS. Note: some weapons use a high-density foam around the core, it is generally acceptable that this be present on the flat.
  8. Using your thumb and forefingers to hold the tip and middle of the blade, GENTLY attempt to rotate the tip. If significant twist in the blade remains after removing pressure, it FAILS for twist. This means the core was detached from the foam and is likely to break through soon.
  9. Now it's time to hit test on your leg or a friend's back. For smaller weapons, strike yourself firmly in the leg a few times, focusing on any weak points you noticed earlier. You should be unable to feel a sharp pain from where the core is, and it should not hit exceptionally hard over the surface of the blade.
  10. If you haven't already, check the weapon's flex by hammering it over your knee or leg. Make sure it doesn't exceed 45 degrees, however take into account the angle you're striking at.
  11. At this point if everything checks out, it's time to mark it with tape according to its class and sticker it indicating it passes. Remember a weapon doesn't have to pass on all its intended uses to be legal. For example, it's OK to have a sword pass for hacking that doesn't pass for stabbing (it won't be marked green & thus the wielder can't stab with it).

Missile Weapons:

Checking missile weapons requires some extra study & attention. Thoroughly acquaint yourself with Archery restrictions from the Book of War before checking arrows and learn good checking from a veteran at an event.


  1. Have owners string their own bows.
  2. Using a draw tester:
    • First, reset the tester to zero by pushing the pointer all the way to the zero pound indication.
    • Using an arrow with a draw stop exactly at 28", place the coiled side of the draw tester on the string at the point where the nock is located. If the nock is especially loose, point the bow upward to let gravity hold the nock in place on the string. Another option is to have another tester gently apply pressure to the arrowhead to keep the nock in place.
    • Pull the string back using the the handles of the draw tester as smoothly as possible until you reach the draw stop. The tester should not have his/her body directly in front of the bow. If you get an unusual reading, repeat the process until you get consistent results. Note: Sometimes bows will pull over until they acclimate to the temperature and humidity. If that happens, leave the bow strung and recheck it in a few minutes.


  1. Make sure the arrow has at least two complete fletchings and that the nock isn't broken. If an arrow has two fletchings but one is starting to separate, the arrow fails. Check that the arrow shaft isn't cracked or separating into individual strands.
  2. Using your 2.5" hole template, check that the arrow's striking surface does not easily pass more than 0.5 inches through a 2.5 inch diameter hole. No part of the arrow’s striking surface may be less than 2.5 inches in any direction.
  3. Take a tape measure and measure from the inside of the nock to the drawstop. The drawstop should about be 1/4" in thickness, sufficient enough that a person can't easily draw past it.
  4. Hold the base of the arrowhead with one hand where it meets the arrow shaft and hold the arrow shaft near the fletchings with the other hand. Try shaking the base. If it wobbles excessively, it fails. Push forward with the hand near the fletchings and see if you can feel any movement in the arrowhead. This indicates that the penny/duct tape base has separated from the rest of the arrow head. Using the pad and 1st joint of the thumb, apply downward pressure on the face of the arrow. Make sure that there is nothing solid, i.e., the penny, underneath the open-cell foam. The closed-cell foam directly over the penny should "give" a little. Also, check that there is no tape on the face of the arrowhead.
  5. Measure 15 feet from archer to back tester. Have the tester cover the back of the neck with one hand and the kidneys with the other. Begin firing arrows at the tester and instruct him/her to give you a thumbs up/thumbs down on whether an arrow is OK. If an arrow fails, retest it with another back tester. Rotate back testers every so often to keep them from getting too sore.


  1. Prod the striking surface firmly with your thumb and fingers assuring you can't feel core.
  2. Attempt to wobble the head side-to-side and up and down.
  3. Make sure the head won't pass through a 2.5" hole
  4. Proceed to jabbing your own forehead or sternum with it a few times and throwing it into an accomplice's back from 15ft away.
  5. If you feel core, the head is detached, or it strikes with considerable pain, it fails. Otherwise, make sure it meets all javelin requirements.
  6. Tape and sticker the javelin.


  1. Squeeze it a few times to assure it's soft, then toss it into the head of your fellow weapon checker to test it.
  2. Make sure it meets the 4" diameter requirement.
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