LARP weapons safety check
Each time you’re going to use your LARP weapons you need to check them to make sure they are safe to use. At some LARP events it might be required to have your weapons checked by an appointed weapon’s checker. However, it is always good to know how to check your weapons yourself as well.
Although the latex layer on the LARP weapons mostly has an aesthetic function, it is important that the latex doesn’t dry out too much, otherwise the foam underneath can also dry out. When the latex layer has a lot of cracks or tears it can also affect the foam underneath when water can reach the foam.
Carefully look over the latex layer on your weapon from one end to the other. Small amounts of peeling, cracks or bubbles shouldn’t be a cause for concern. If you see quite a lot of this type of surface damage, make sure to be extra secure during the rest of the safety check.
If you see any large tears or you see the fiberglass core protruding from the foam, the weapon is not safe to use.
On weapons with cross guards, pay extra attention to that part of the weapon. Cross guards can be sensitive to tearing.
Core placement and foam thickness
Most LARP weapons, with the exception of throwing weapons, have a fiberglass or carbon fiber core. This core is layered inbetween foam, which is then finished with latex.
The fiberglass core is the most dangerous part of the weapon when a weapon is damaged. When fiberglass breaks, it is extremely sharp and can cause serious injuries.
This is why it’s of uttermost importance that the core is not off center. There should be 1,5cm of foam on all sides of the core on striking surfaces, meaning the part of the weapon you hit someone with. On non-striking surfaces the foam should be 1cm thick.
If the core is not properly aligned in the weapon, the foam layer can be too thin at one side of the weapon.
To check whether the core is off center or not, gently squeeze along the length of the weapon. If it feels like the core is off center in the foam, the weapon isn’t safe to use. If you feel like the foam layers aren’t thick enough, the weapon is also not safe to use.
Don’t squeeze the weapon too hard, as this can actually damage the foam or loosen it from the core.
The foam that’s placed around the core is bonded to the core to ensure the foam stays in place. Over time, the foam layers can come loose, which gives the core too much space to move and eventually protrude from the foam.
To check if the layers are still properly bonded to the core, gently squeeze along the length of the weapon again, with approximately hand wide intervals. If you can feel the layers move at any point along the weapon, the weapon isn’t safe to use.
Again, don’t squeeze too hard, as this can damage the weapon.
The handle on any LARP weapon or shield needs to be properly secured at all times. If there is any movement in the handle, it can create dangerous situations.
Shield handles are especially prone to coming loose, because they generally have smaller adhesion points.
To check if the handle of your weapon or shield is secure, hold the handle in one hand and the length of the weapon in the other. Very gently twist the handle. If you feel movement in the handle, the weapon or shield isn’t safe to use.
Don’t twist the handle too much, this can cause the handle to come loose, which is the opposite of what you want.
Throwing weapons should never have a solid core. They also shouldn’t have any sharp edges and they need to be bigger than an eye socket. Also make sure throwing weapons aren’t too heavy, as the impact can still cause injury.
To check the safety of throwing weapons, first check if they are flexible by gently squeezing them. If it feels like they have a solid core, you cannot use them.
Run your hand over the full surface of the throwing weapon, from one end to the other to check if there are any sharp edges or points. If there are, the weapon isn’t safe to use.
Finally check the size and weight of the weapon.
Arrows and bolts
Arrows and bolts come with more safety concerns than most close range weapons. They can have quite an impact and the impact can also damage the projectile even after one use. There is also always a risk that a different person than the intended target walks into the path of the projectile and gets hit in the head.
The most important requirements for arrows and bolts are that they should have fletches, that the shaft is secured properly and that the overlap at the tip is soft and thick.
To check the safety of the projectiles, first you need to check the amount of fletches that are on the projectile and if they are attached properly. Arrows would have 3 fletches and bolts should have 2 fletches. If the fletches are letting loose at any point, they need to be re-glued, or the projectile isn’t safe to use.
Wooden shafts need to bend evenly and without cracking. To test this, hold one end of the shaft on one hand. Hold the tip of the other end in between your thumb, index finger and middle finger and carefully put some tension on the shaft. If it bends unevenly or cracks, the shaft isn’t safe to use.
Glassfiber shafts shouldn’t have any loose fibers or cracks. If you’re not sure if the shaft has a crack or just an impurity in the material, you can use the method to check wooden shafts to check the fiberglass shaft as well.
Aluminium shafts should be too bended and shouldn’t have any visible kinks. Otherwise the shaft isn’t safe to use.
The arrowhead needs to have enough overlap and should be properly secured to the shaft.
To check the safety of the arrowhead, push in the tip overlap frontally. If air escapes from the foam, the foam is open-pored, which means it’s safe to use. The tip overlap should not be coated or taped with latex.
The width/diameter of the arrowhead should be at least 5 cm.
To test if the arrowhead is attached to the shaft securely, hold the shaft in one hand and take the arrowhead in your other hand. Slightly and gently rotate the arrowhead counterclockwise. If the arrowhead rotates, it’s not safe to use. Don’t use too much force when rotating the arrowhead as this might cause the arrowhead to actually get loose.
Press against the arrowhead with your thumb from the placement of the shaft. You should feel a cube or cylinder shape in which the shaft is glued. The arrowhead should not move up while pressing it, otherwise it’s not safe to use. You should also be able to feel a similar cube or cylinder on the other side of the arrowhead. This is to prevent the shaft from protruding from the tip.
Your armour should be designed in such a way that you, any other LARP-ers and their weapons cannot sustain injury or damage. The main thing to check is if there are any sharp bits on your armour such as burrs, sharp rivets, nails or pointed parts that are actually sharp.
You can check this simply by eye and by carefully checking the surface of your armour with your hand.
Aside from the handle of your shield needing to be properly secured, some other things should also be checked before you use your shield.
If your shield has a solid core, there needs to be at least 3cm of foam and padding on all edges. The edges also need to be rounded off. You can check this by gently pressing along the edges, similarly to how you check the foam on a weapon.
A shield with a hard core also needs at least 1cm of foam or padding on the front to cushion any screws.
Before you use your shield, always check if all screws are tightened and if not, tighten them using a screwdriver.
The wooden base of the shield needs to be thick enough to prevent splintering. Plywood needs to be at least 1 cm thick. MDF can be 6mm thick as MDF is sturdier and also heavier.
If there are any pointed parts on your shield, these need to be made of foam and not of any hard material such as wood or metal.
Shields are defensive items, not weapons and should never be used as weapons!