Fighting: Weapons & Armour Guidelines

In order to minimise risk of injury to yourself and others, weapons and armour should conform to the following standards. Note that some sellers will market weapons as "battle-ready" or "combat safe" even if they are not suitable for steel-on-steel fighting. If in doubt, stick to the vendors we recommend or check with a fellow Wychwooder before you buy.

Weapons

Swords and langseaxes

  • Must be made from a suitable steel (EN45 or possibly chrome-vanadium steel)
  • May be tempered, but this is not essential
  • Must have a full tang
  • Edges must be at least 2mm thick, end should not be pointed (diameter of a 5p piece or wider)
  • Must be well maintained and any sharp burrs removed before next use
  • Guidelines to authentic designs are on the Weapons Typology page.

Spears

  • Head must be well blunted and tightly mounted on shaft
  • If the edge of the butt end of the head is sharp, it should be filed smooth or covered with leather or hide.
  • Shaft must be made out of a suitably robust, seasoned wood (ash is best)
  • Winged spears (where there are metal 'prongs' below the head) are more dangerous, as they can catch on weapons, shields and most importantly joints! They should only be used by people who are specifically trained in that type of spear use and are competent with it, and should not be considered to be of equal threat or difficulty level as a non-winged spear.
  • Guidelines to authentic designs are on the Weapons Typology page.

Axes

  • Must be bottom-hafted or have the head riveted to the shaft
  • The 'eye' of the axe-head should be large enough to fit a shaft thick enough to be bottom hafted (it will be necessarily thinner at the base than the top)
  • The triangular 'wedge' of metal joining the 'eye' to the 'axe-head' must be thick enough to withstand use without buckling - this will be larger in a dane axe than in a hand axe
  • The head should not curve up into a long point and the edge of the blade must be at least 2mm thick
  • Shaft should be made out of a suitably robust, seasoned wood (ash is best)
  • It is recommended that you soak your axe overnight prior to use
  • Guidelines to authentic designs are on the Weapons Typology page.

Knives and small seaxes

  • Mild steel is acceptable for small knives, but EN45 is preferable and will stay looking sexy for much, much longer
  • Edges must be at least 2mm thick, end should not be pointed (diameter of a 5p piece or wider)
  • Guidelines to authentic designs are on the Weapons Typology page.

Armour

Helmets

  • Must be made from a suitable steel (mild steel) and be either padded with sheepskin or worn over a padded coif in order to fit closely to the wearer's head
  • Must have a nasal (cheek pieces, aventails, spectacles etc. are optional)
  • Steel dome caps for worn under soft hats do NOT give sufficient head protection as they leave your temples exposed and can move around
  • Note that some styles of helmet will cut down on your vision (e.g. Gjermunbu-style helms). It's fine to use these - they're great for protecting your face and eyes - but be aware that they will limit what you can see
  • Also note that while spun steel helmets are acceptable (the Wychwood spangenhelms are spun), beaten helmets are usually more robust. And they are obviously more authentic
  • Guidelines to authentic designs are on the Helmets page.

Gloves

  • Should be close fitting, well padded and backed with stiff 4mm+ leather and/or maille
  • Should not compromise your ability to hold and move your weapon safely
  • There is no evidence for these being used in-period, but they are essential for safety

Shields

  • Should be made from suitable wood (1-2cm thick plywood recommended) and edged with hide or metal. Note that metal shield rims require a lot of upkeep, to remove burrs and keep them safe (as well as weighing more)
  • If you add a boss, it should be EN45 steel and not have a point
  • There should be nothing sharp on your shield - hide and metal rims should have no 'corners' sticking out and tacks used to hold hide in place should be hammered flush with the shield's surface
  • You may wish to pad your shield to protect your arm and leg (in the case of kites) from bruises
  • Guidelines to authentic designs are on the Shields page.
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