The various weapons used by our group are normally easy to maintain, and easy to check against the rare failure. Also, some weapons can be used against others, whilst some should not. Here is a listing by weapon of where it can and cannot be used, and also some things to look for to down check it.
Foil: The foil is the primary training weapon in our group. The blade is square in cross-section and 30-35 in. in length. The tip is to be a nail head or round rolled tip in metal, with a plastic protective tip placed over, and that taped down with duct tape to prevent it from being pulled off. The bell may be a standard 4-1/4" bell, or it can be mounted in a fancier grip/guard combination.
Foil is acceptable to fight against itself, epee, musketeer, dagger and saber, although it is not really recommended against the last.
Foil should never be used against schlager or shanai.
Foil is a point weapon only. Only the tip may be used to touch an opponent. Slaps or draw cuts do not count.
Places to check: Look very closely at the last 6" to the tip for any odd bends that seem to be staying. Check for s-curving of the blade and correct. Look for any serious signs of metal fatigue. Make sure the grip/guard are secure. Make sure that there are no sharp edges on the grip/guard.
Epee: this is the standard weapon used by our group. An epee blade is triangular in cross-section, and tapers from approx. ¾" thick at the base to 1/8" at the tip. Length the same as foil. Tip the same as foil. The standard bell on epee is approx. 5-1/2" dia., and offset. Grips/guards can vary as in foil.
Epee is acceptable to fight against itself, foil, musketeer, dagger and saber.
Epee should not be used against schlager or shanai.
Epee is both a point weapon and a draw cut weapon. Draw cuts are performed by laying the blade on the opponent, and pulling at least 1/3 of the blade. It is not to be slapped into place. Slapping is not allowed with epee.
Places to check: same as foil.
Musketeer: is a heavy weight epee. It normally has a 1" base tapering to a small tip at the end, though not quite as small as a regular epee. Tip is similar to epee. Standard on bell is same as epee. Grips and guards vary greatly.
Musketeer is acceptable against itself, foil, epee, dagger, saber and schlager.
Musketeer should not be used against shanai.
Musketeer is both a point weapon and a draw cut weapon. Additionally, flick cuts are also allowed. A flick cut is the tip only dragged across the body or head of an opponent.
Slapping is not allowed with musketeer.
Places to check: same as foil, but also check the base of the weapon to make sure that it is not giving out.
Saber: Saber is the lightest and most flexible weapon we use. The blade is square or triangular in cross-section at the base, tapering to a thin flat end. Length is as foil and epee. Tip is a round rolled tip in metal, left bare. The standard saber guard curves back around to cover the hand and it approx. 5 in. in diameter.
Saber is acceptable against foil, epee, dagger and musketeer.
Saber should not be used against schlager or shanai.
Saber is allowed to slap or strike as well as point attack. Draw cuts are also allowed.
Places to check: Saber is much more flexible than foil or epee, so s-curves (and bends in general) can normally be worked out quickly and easily. Keep an eye out from about 3" from the tip to about 12" from the tip. This seems to be where these blades break the most, as that is where they are struck the most both in attacks and parrying.
Dagger: Dagger is a small square cross-section blade, normally about 18" in length. The tip is normally as foil. There is no real standard guard, many variations exist, from none, through foil bells, through quillions and guard ends.
Daggers can be used against itself, foil, epee, musketeer, saber and schlager.
Dagger should not be used against shanai.
Dagger is point attack or draw cuts. Flick cuts are also allowed. Slapping is not allowed.
Places to check: make sure there are no sharp edges, and that the tips stay secure. Also keep a close eye on the last 3 inches to the tip. Excessive bending back and forth there can cause metal fatigue and breakage.
Schlager: the heaviest steel weapon we use is either a diamond or oval cross-section (both are acceptable) and of the length of foil and epee, although some longer examples do exist. A rabbit blunt tip is used on the end, taped on as in foil and epee. Guards and grips will vary from simple to complex with this weapon.
Schlager is acceptable against itself, dagger and musketeer.
Schlager should not be used against shanai, foil, epee or saber.
Schlager is point attack, draw cuts or flick cuts. Slapping is not allowed.
Schlager is the only weapon in which grabbing of the blade is allowed. This is because it is a heavy enough blade to never worry about a single grip breaking the blade.
Places to check: guard and grip area, also the edge of the blade for splintering. Not nearly as susceptible to breakage as the other weapons, mostly they break in the tang.
Shanai: is a bamboo practice sword. May also be referred to as kendo sticks. This is a multiple piece weapon made of 4 or 5 strips of bamboo tied together with a leather grip at one end, and a small leather pouch piece on the tip. The blade is tied in 3 or 4 places, and the tsuba (guard) is slid over the body of the weapon. The blade is marked by a string that is the back of the weapon. Guards do not vary with this weapon.
Shanai is acceptable only against itself.
Shanai is a strike weapon only. We do not have enough armor to take full strikes; therefore we train to pull the hit as much as possible.
Places to check: worn out tie strings, worn out leather thong on tip and grip.
Design features on weapons: please be careful when choosing or designing a custom guard/grip for your weapon. Pistol grips are not allowed. Standard French Foil grips are.
Make sure any quillions do not have any sharp edges on them, and that they are at least 3/16" dia. thick minimum (bigger is better). Total length of quillions should not exceed 12" total spread.
Bow and Arrow: Archery is with recurve or standard bow only. Max pull is 35#. Arrows are to be wooden shaft, with markland tips.
Use 30" arrows, cut tip off, and then clean off ½" back on the shaft. Use 1-1/4" round wooden drawer pulls as blunts, drill to accommodate the arrow shaft, and then glue onto end. Use closed cell noodle foam cut to 4" length, cross split to ½ that depth to push over the ball end of the arrow. Tape with liberal amounts of duct tape.
Rubber Band Guns: are made to mimic muskets, wheel locks, and flintlocks. They should have sufficient pull to be felt if hit, but not so hard as to hurt. Single shot only (no repeaters, although double barrel is ok).
RBG loads are made from surgical tubing, standard for pistol is cut to 8" length, a piece of 5/16" dowel is cut to 1" length and inserted in both ends of the tubing, until it is centered in the tubing with both ends over it. The joint area is then taped with generous amounts of duct tape.
Standard length for rifle is to be determined.
Shields and bucklers are not to be used as offensive weapons.
Cloaks and sashes are not to be used as offensive weapons.
Floggers are not to be used as offensive weapons (or do not count as killing strikes).
All of these are acceptable as parrying devices. Make sure to not have anything sharp attached to these, and that they are used in a safe manner according to our conventions.