General notes on weapons and equipment

Photo: Dane Axe "O God is the Light"

This text is dedicated to „O God is the light“.

Again and again we come across equipment that hinders the fighter more than it serves him.

Therefore, here are a few recommendations on what requirements various pieces of equipment should fulfil. These recommendations result from the experiences of our group. These are explicitly my recommendations, anyone can deviate from them at any time. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. If anyone has had other experiences or has further good tips, I am happy to receive feedback.

Every piece of equipment should be comfortable in addition to the protective effect we hope it will have. There is a very simple reason for this: only what is comfortable has the right fit and does not hinder our movement.

What good is a breastplate that pinches me here and there? The result of prolonged wearing would only be a sore spot, a bruise or even worse after strain.

Only the pieces of equipment that we would be willing to wear all day or during a cosy evening watching TV are well-fitting pieces.
The fact that individual pieces of armour such as chain mail do not want to be worn all day is often just a feature of poor fit, even if the need for training cannot be denied here.
The helmet, however, that doesn't fit during a TV evening is also nothing for a half-hour show.

Protective equipment should have the following characteristics:

  1. The impact pressure should be distributed, i.e. the pressure area should be increased (e.g. by leather, sheet metal,…).
  2. The impact pressure should be reduced by deformation (e.g. by wool, carpet, foam, sheet metal,…).
  3. The impact pressure is to be redirected (e.g. as with the nasal).

If a piece of armour has left traces after being taken off (reddening of the skin, welts, abrasions, bruises) the fit is not good. Especially if the „damage“ can be traced back to combat actions according to the rules.

Different demands are made on a glove depending on how it is fenced and what weapon or shields are wielded.

It makes sense to protect both hands with gloves, because in a fight the shield can be lost or the weapon type is changed. Basically, the more freedom of movement the better, after all we want to dictate the movements with our muscle power and not the glove should set the frame.

With a glove, it should be possible to grip the weapon comfortably and, if different grips are used, it should also be possible to switch easily between these grips. By grips is meant here how the weapon is gripped (e.g. firm grip, thumb grip, ring grip, slide grip) i.e. hand positions. The glove should not hinder the movements with the weapon.

Movement axes on the hand (insert image).

Being able to let go with the glove is also important. A glove that is firmly stuck in the shield just prevents the shield from being thrown away and the hand is still protected. This is interesting for grabbing the opponent's weapon.

On the other hand, there is the need for padding. The grip surface on the inside of the hand should not be padded. However, it can be useful to reinforce it in order to influence friction, e.g. in the case of spearmen sliding surfaces and gripping surfaces.

Basically, if there is a feeling of not being hindered by the glove, and after a while there is a feeling of never being hit on the hand, then it is a good glove.

After gloves, joint protectors are the most important piece of protective equipment. The same rules apply as with the gloves, except that the joints are closer to the hit zones and therefore the probability of an unfortunate hit is increased.

Again, it is all about mobility and protecting the delicate bones and ligaments in the joints.

In addition, attention should be paid to blood supply. By buckling too tightly, it is possible to restrict your own blood supply unnoticed or even to squeeze it off, which has a really bad effect on your fighting style. A comfortable fit during all movements is also a good indicator here.

Here, too, everyone should pay attention to weight.

There are forearm & shin guards with joint protection and without. The early medieval finds are without joint protection.

It is important for a protector not to interfere with the adjacent joints. Depending on the length of the protector, this is relatively easy.

The transition to the adjacent protective gear is also important. Here it should be ensured that the transition works smoothly. Basically, the tighter the protector fits, the better.

It is important that the protector does not restrict blood flow or muscle movement. Comfortable fit with all movements is also, as always, a good indicator. If a protector has left marks after being taken off (reddening of the skin, welts), the fit is not good.

A property that is always ignored is weight. To make this clear, the weight of the arm protector can simply be added to the weight of the weapon. This does not add up physically, but the values that come out make it quite clear that it makes sense to pay attention to weight in this area as well.

Click here! For an example

Click here! For an example

Sword: 950 g
chain glove: 830 g
Iron-covered arm guard: 850 g
Total: 2630 g

No safe fencer can find it good to swing 2.6 kg swords.

A shield should be no thinner than 6 mm and no thicker than 9 mm.

The ideal diameter for a round shield to be used in line combat in the centre is such that the front knee and at the same time the shoulder are covered.
This is usually the same length as standing upright from the ground to the ball of the hand.
(which is also a good length for an axe style).

A fabric cover on the front is recommended as it reduces splintering of the wood.
The edges of a shield should be rounded so that blows cannot hit sharp edges directly.
If possible, the fabric can be run over the rounded edges to the back. This gives an additional feather effect to the edge of the shield.

The shield should have a rawhide edge sewn on to protect it from blows.\ The edge should be sewn on rather than nailed, as nails increase the safety risk of damaged shields.

If the shield is also to be used actively, it is advisable to cover the outermost edge with a rope sewn on there.
If the fabric is then also glued over it, this additionally fixes the rope. Instead of the rawhide edge, normal leather is recommended. This construction softens the impact edge of the shield, which reduces the risk of injury when the shield is used against the opponent's body.

The grip should not be too long on thin shields, otherwise it will hinder the flexibility of the shield, increasing the risk of structural fractures.
An oval or polygonal grip is recommended as this facilitates the sense of direction for the shield.

A shield boss should be no thicker than 2 mm and no thinner than 1 mm, a constant 1,5 mm is the ideal compromise between weight and stability. The hump will bend, but it will be more durable than the shield. The weight of a hump should be between 300 g and 500 g. If it should also be possible to throw the shield away in battle, the inner diameter should be 1 cm larger than the width of the glove. 14 cm is often appropriate.

The weight of a shield should be such that it can be held well on the outstretched arm.

A round shield with a diameter of 80 cm should not be heavier than 4 kg, and will probably not weigh more than 3,5 kg. A round shield with the diameter 60 cm should not be heavier than 3 kg, and will probably not be lighter than 2,5 kg.

A kite shield with the width of 60 cm and a height of 100 cm, without a hump, should not be heavier than 3,5 kg
and will probably not get lighter than 2kg .

A helmet for free fighting according to Wiki rules should have a thickness of 1 mm and should not weigh more than 1.5 kg without neck guard and not more than 2.5 kg with neck guard.

A helmet for Wolin rules combat (direct blows to the head) should not be less than 1.5 mm but should not exceed 2.5 mm. Such a helmet should not weigh more than 2 kg without neck protection and not more than 3.5 kg with neck protection.

Below 1.5 mm, there is a risk of the bumps touching the head. Above 2.5 mm, there is a risk of no more dents in the helmet and this means, in the case of impact blows, that all the energy is transferred to the helmet wearer, either to the head or to the (neck) spine. (Hals-)Wirbelsäule.

There are two things a weapon must fulfil: Safety and comfort.
Where comfort ultimately means safety.

The rules of the game are meant to provide the rough framework of safety guidelines for weapons. Better weapons are also better in terms of safety. A spear with a larger impact area is a better spear.

Weight: A weapon that cannot be held for a while on the outstretched arm is crap, it restricts freedom of action. The lighter a weapon is, the safer it can be wielded. And that equals safety for the other person.

Every bladed weapon needs a sheath, there have been no warriors who have owned a sword but not a sword sheath, the same goes for (show!) knives that are carried.

The metal parts of the weapons should be clean and smooth and the steel of reasonable quality.

An oval handle is recommended, as this makes it easier to feel the direction of the weapon.

The wooden parts of weapons should be treated with linseed oil, as this preserves flexibility and reduces sensitivity to water.

A sidearm is a weapon that is carried in addition to the main weapon, so that one is still there if the main weapon is lost.

With a sidearm it is important that it does not interfere with the use of the main weapon and that it should still be readily available.
It should be possible to draw it in a period of about 1.5 seconds, including getting rid of the main weapon.
It must be attached in such a way that it cannot be lost in combat.

Otherwise it should fulfil the same conditions as the main weapon.

Every weapon attachment (e.g. sword scabbard) should be designed in such a way that running with it is possible without problems. That means: without the weapon disturbing because it wobbles or makes noise or because it is likely to get caught somewhere. (For example on the person next to you in the line or in the forest on protruding branches of the undergrowth).

The weapon should be easy to draw, but not lost in combat. To achieve this, it is helpful to put a piece of fur in the scabbard so that the weapon is drawn against the grain.

It is good to have a dry place for your weapons and a sheath for blades and blades. This saves on rust removal. A bow also likes to have it dry.

The weight of an axe head should be between 100 and 200 g. The weight of an axe style should be between 250 and 600 g and should have as uniform a stability as possible. The grain of the axe should follow the style. For thin styles, a rawhide should be attached to protect against blows.
The weight of the rawhide should not exceed 100g.

The total weight should be between 400 and 800g.

The style should not be longer than 100 cm.
The length between the ground and the ball of the hand in an upright position as if the axe were a good walking stick is particularly suitable. An oval handle is recommended as this makes it easier to feel the direction of the axe.

The blade should be about 7-14 cm measured from the handle.

It makes sense to treat the style with beeswax and to groove the lower part to increase the grip.

A one-handed sword should be no heavier than 1200g and no lighter than 800g.
A one and a half hand sword should not be heavier than 1500g and not lighter than 1000g.

It should be possible to bend the blade without permanently deforming it. Bending should be possible by at least 45° and not more than 60°. When bending, the curve should be as uniform as possible and not show any straight stretches or tighter curves. Straight stretches are rigid areas and tight curves may be too soft. A rigid area may only occur around the swing point on the blade.

There are two vibration points on each blade. One should be at one third at the tip of the blade and the second should be at the centre of the first hand in the handle.

Click here! How to establish the swing points

Click here! How to establish the swing points

The sword is chamfered at the hilt with two fingers and left hanging then strike the flat side of the blade with the fist. Then observe where a vibration point, a still point, occurs. Then hold the blade at this vibration point so that the sword can swing well, (best with two fingers on the edge) and now strike again with the fist on the flat side and observe again where the vibration point appears. Repeat this change until the two points are safely established.

Every sword has a pivot point (pivot point), which is located in the blade. The position of this point is essential for the sword's manoeuvrability, depending on the fencing style, a different position is favourable.

Click here! How the pivot point is determined

Click here! How the pivot point is determined

If the sword grips the hilt at the pivot point, with the blade hanging down, then move the hilt back and forth relatively quickly, the blade will now rotate around a stationary point, this is the pivot point. This point is partly dependent on the speed of the movement.

The centre of gravity of the sword should be a hand's width above the quillons for a thrust and twist laden fencing stick. And for a cut and slash fencing stick, the centre of gravity should be two handbreadths above the quillons. Depending on the fencing style, it may make sense to deviate from this.

A loose guard reduces the strain on the wrists caused by the swinging of the blade.

It goes without saying that the pommel should be tight. No screws.

The tang should not have an angular transition to the blade. Unfortunately, this is usually impossible to control.

Photo: Multiple Spears

A spear consists of the shaft, the tip, an impact guard and possibly a shoe.

The tip should not be too heavy, have no sharp edges or hooks, have a rounded or flattened ball for a point, not bend or otherwise permanently deform, and have a spout appropriate to the shaft. If the tip has a length such that bending is necessary, this should always swing back.

A shaft should not bend too much under pressure, should be straight, should not be too heavy, should not contain knots (astrein), should not have hooks and should not break (oh yes, that would be great).

The impact protection should not be too heavy, be flexible and distribute pressure.

A lance shoe should not have sharp edges. There are rulebooks that do not allow lance shoes!

It makes sense to oil the shaft before first use and then treat it with beeswax to increase grip.

In general

Spears should be protected in the front area with rawhide against blows. The area to be protected is the distance from the opponent's belly to the tip of his weapon. This is where the hardest hits are scored.

As a spear should not bend/wobble too much, it must not be too thin, however, a heavy weight makes it harder to control and leads to injuries.

The grain must follow the shaft, especially in the front.

Click here! More about spearhead weights

Click here! More about spearhead weights

Spearhead weights

Length to weight ratio

line graph: lengths weight ratio statistics

X is the weight (in g)
Y is the length (in mm)

Blue is the individual peaks
Red is the average value of the tips
Yellow is the average value of wood

(So it is clear that the spear tips are heavier than a piece of wood of the same length with a diameter of 27 mm).

NameLength (mm)Width .(mm)Weight (g)Weight/Length

Minumum 0,38 g/mm (Speer09_f)
Wood 0,42 g/mm
Maximum 0,84 g/mm (Speer_f)

„Spear09_f“ & „Spee12_j“ are respectively spoutless spearheads for one-handed spears

Two-handed spear

A two-handed spear may not exceed 3 m in our country.
The weight of a thrusting spearhead should not exceed 300 g.
The weight of a cutting spearhead should not exceed 400 g.
The diameter should not be less than 27 mm and not exceed 32.

A spear for forest use should not be longer than 2,5 m.

One-handed spear

A one-handed spear should not be longer than 2.3 m.
The weight of the spearhead should not exceed 100 g.
The diameter should not be less than 18 mm and not exceed 27 mm.
The total weight should not exceed 1 kg, usually it is around 650g.

A Danish axe may not be longer than 2 m in our country.
The weight of the axe blade should not exceed 400 g.
The length of the axe blade should not be less than 15 cm, the width of the blade 10 cm. The diameter of the style should not be less than 20×30 mm.

It is recommended to treat the style with beeswax and to groove the lower part to increase the grip.

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