This outlines a basic overview of the key points of an inspection at training or events.
The items to check, listed below, are not meant to cover every item in the rules. Marshals are encouraged to use their best judgement to conduct any aspect of an inspection more thoroughly.
Note: Penetration-resistant material, masks and blade flexibility must be tested at least every two years, separate to inspections at events. For more information about these tests see Chapter 7 - Safety tests.
Inspecting protective equipment
- When inspecting protective equipment, you may not be able to see every part of the equipment. In these cases, ask the fencer about their equipment to check that they know the rules and believe they are wearing the right equipment.
- You might have to ask the fencer to touch or manipulate their protective equipment to check that it meets the rules and fits properly. You should avoid touching the fencer when carrying out a COVID-safe inspection (see 6.4).
- Check what type of combat the fencer is planning to participate in. Check that they have the appropriate level of protection for that category (for example, that they are wearing of rigid back-of-head protection and resilient padding on elbows and knees for Cut and Thrust Combat).
- You might have to ask the combatant what their penetration-resistant clothing is made of. For example, it may be a combination of a penetration-resistant doublet and reinforced underarms sewn into their undershirt. If you cannot see the undershirt in this scenario, ask them if they’re wearing it.
- Ask the fencer to adopt a common combat pose, such as a lunge, to check that there are no substantial gaps in their penetration-resistant clothing.
- Check that the fencer is wearing rigid neck protection.
- Ask the fencer if they are wearing the appropriate groin protection and rigid protection on any vulnerable body part. It is up to them to know what they need to wear.
Inspecting masks and helms
- Inspect the mask or helm before the fencer puts it on.
- Check that the materials meet the rigid material standard, and do not have excessive rust or dents that could weaken the material.
- If you are concerned about the face mesh on a fencing mask, you can test it using a standard commercial 12 kg mask punch.
- Look inside the mask or helm to check that it has no substantial protrusions, and that there is enough padding or a proper suspension to prevent it from hitting the fencer’s head.
- After the fencer puts on the mask or helm, check that it fits snugly in a way that should prevent the mask from hitting the fencer’s head or face. You may need to ask the fencer push or pull on the mask or helm to make sure it doesn’t come into contact with their head or face.
- Check that the mask is secured by a second fastening below the jawline.
- Gloves must be made of at least abrasion-resistant material.
- Check for any significant openings, breaks or cuts that could allow the point or edge of a blade to make contact with the skin.
- Note: Stitches in sewn leather can cause small gaps at the seams. These should be acceptable if there is no sign of the seam coming apart.
- Check that the gloves provide enough coverage to make sure that no skins shows between the glove and the fencer's sleeves. Ask the fencer to adopt a common fencing pose such as a lunge, to check that there are no substantial gaps when they move.
- For Cut and Thrust Combat:
- Check that the fencer’s hand protection (combination of glove and/or sword or defensive object) has enough padding or rigid protection.
- If their gloves only have padded protection, remind them that they are not allowed to fight with or against a two-handed weapon.
- Ask the combatant to hold their weapon or defensive object as they would in combat.
- Check that the combined protection covers the back of the hands, fingers, and 2.5 cm above the wrist to protect against percussive cuts from normal and reasonable angles. An appropriate test is: can you see a straight line, approximately 10 cm long, into which a sword could cut with the edge on any part of the back of their hands, fingers, or wrist?
- A shield alone is not sufficient in Lochac, since it covers only the back of the hand, but not the wrist, fingers or thumb.
Inspecting bladed weapons
- Inspect the overall weapon:
- Check that the length meets the rules for daggers, swords and two-handed swords.
- Check that the weapon is in good condition - for example, that it isn't likely to fall apart during a fight.
- Inspect the blade:
- Check for nicks that could cut an opponent. You can do this visually and by running a gloved hand lightly along the edges of the blade. Run your hand in both directions. Be careful - a potentially harmful nick could also injure you. If the blade has substantial nicks, they will need to be filed or sanded before the weapon can be used.
- Look down the length of the blade to look for kinks, cracks or bends.
- Kinked or cracked blades cannot be repaired and must be retired.
- Fencers must not use a blade with a sharp bend or an "S" curve. They can try to re-curve the blade, but you must re-inspect the blade and agree that it can be used again.
- Check the flexibility of the blade. If in doubt, check the blade using the flexibility test in Chapter 7 - Safety tests.
- Inspect the blunt:
- Check the blunt visually for cracks, bulging, or discoloration, or any other signs that the sword is starting to punch through the blunt.
- Frequently, it isn’t possible to check the internal components of the blunt. For example, if the blunt is made of leather, it might not be possible to check that the leather is thick enough. Ask the fencer about how the blunt was made, to check that they know the rules and that their blunt meets the requirements of the rules.
- If the blunt does not meet the requirements, it must be replaced before the weapon can be used.
- Check that the blunt is unlikely to come off during combat, by pulling on it.
- Inspect the guard:
- Check that the different parts of the guard are securely - for example that a bar is not broken, or that welded parts are secure.
- Check that the quillons and pommels do not have sharp or pointed ends.
Inspecting rubber band guns
Note: rubber band guns must be inspected in a place that is out of range of any unarmoured participants or spectators. The people conducting the inspection (the marshal and the combatant) must wear full face protection during the inspection.
- Check for any major splinters or nicks in the gun that could injure an opponent.
- Check that the different components of the gun are securely fastened - for example if the gun has a separate barrel.
- Check the ammunition to ensure it contains no metal parts or fillings.
- Ask the fencer or gunner when the ammunition was last tested for draw strength. If in doubt, check the draw strength using the ammunition test in Chapter 7 - Safety tests.
- Check the draw length of the rubber band gun. For long-arm rubber band guns with a draw length of more than 45 cm, check the circumference of the ammunition is at least the same as the draw length. Flatten two rubber bands in half and use that to measure against the draw length, as shown in the figure.
- Select a piece of ammunition to check that the gun operates properly.
- Ask the combatant to load the weapon, wait 10 seconds and then discharge the weapon into the ground, to check that the rubber bands are properly secured when loaded.
- Inspect the head
- For rubber-headed spears, check that the tip is flexible, and returns substantially to its original shape within 3 seconds.
- For metal-headed spears, follow the inspection methods for a bladed weapon.
- Check that the head is securely fastened to the haft.
- Inspect the haft
- Check that the haft is made of appropriate material (rattan for rubber-headed spears; wood or rattan for metal-headed spears).
- Check that the rattan haft is the appropriate diameter (between 28.5 mm and 35 mm).
- Check that the spear is the appropriate length (no longer than 275 cm for rubber-headed spears, or 244 cm for metal-headed spears).
- Check that the haft does not have dangerous splinters, nicks or protrusions.
Inspecting defensive objects
- Check for any major splinters, nicks, or features that could injure an opponent.
- Check if a cloak or non-rigid defensive object contains any rigid parts. If it does, remind the opponent that they may not throw it at their opponent.
- Check any non-standard offensive parts.
COVID-safe low-contact inspections
The following steps are a guide for marshals on how to conduct a no- or low-contact inspection of weapons and equipment.
This process is required in Australia while there are physical distancing requirements, and is optional in New Zealand at Alert Levels 1 and 2.
- Marshals must wear abrasion-resistant gloves to conduct all inspections of fencers.
- Physical distancing should be maintained while conducting inspections. If the Marshal needs to break distancing, they must wear a face covering.
- Ask the fencer to stand at an appropriate distance in front of you.
- Ask the combatant to show you the inside of their mask or helm:
- Inspect by sight to assess if the padding is intact.
- If in doubt, ask the fencer to press the padding to check that it is still resilient.
- Ask the fencer to put on their mask or helm.
- Ask the fencer if they are wearing groin protection (if applicable).
- Ask the fencer to present their gloved hands, palms up. Inspect the gloves by sight, looking for any rips or holes.
- Ask the fencer to turn their hands palms down and repeat the inspection.
- Ask the fencer to spread their arms to the sides. Inspect the armpits by sight, looking for separated seams, rips or holes.
- If you are not certain about the underarm coverage, discuss it with the fencer.
- You might need to ask the fencer to press or pinch the cloth under the arm to demonstrate its coverage.
- Ask the fencer to lift their coif or mask bib to show you the gorget.
- Check that the gorget provides rigid protection for the entire neck.
- Check that the fencer has a secondary fastening to secure their mask.
- Visually check all the armour to ensure there are no gaps showing skin. This includes checking that normal movements (such as a lunge) will not expose skin.
- Ask the combatant to stand to one side and present their sword or dagger so that the blade is in front of you. They should hold the hilt.
- Wearing a fencing glove, check the blade for nicks and ensure the blunt is securely fixed to the tip.
- Use your gloved hand to check a buckler or baton for nicks, chips or splinters.
- Inspect a cloak for any rigid material. If there is rigid material, the combatant is allowed to use the cloak as a defensive item, but they are not allowed to throw it.