By Master Benedict Fergus atte Mede.
I’ve heard some confusion about the new mask inspection policy, and I’d like to clear it up. First of all, what we are doing is adding a step in inspections, not changing the rules. This new inspection procedure should begin immediately. Society policies may change wording to make things more clear at some point in the future, but we have been instructed to implement this change now.
The following comes from the Æ rapier policies:
- General Requirements:
- Prior to every combat, tournament or practice, all combatants shall insure that their equipment is safe, in good working order, and has been inspected by a warranted marshal of Æthelmearc.
- Armor Requirements B. Fencing Mask – The front and top of the head must be covered by rigid material to below the jaw line and behind the ears. Standard 12 kg fencing masks meet this standard. Fencing helms meeting this standard are also acceptable and shall be approved on a case-by-case basis. The face must be covered by either 12-kilogram mesh (e.g., a standard fencing mask) or perforated metal which meets the definition of rigid material and has holes no larger than 1/8 inch (3 mm) in diameter and a minimum offset of 3/16 inch (5 mm). Masks and helms must be secured to the fighter so that they cannot be easily removed or dislodged during combat. The combination of a snug fit and the spring-tongue in a conventional fencing mask is not sufficient by itself to secure the mask to the fighter.
This last point: “Masks and helms must be secured to the fighter so that they cannot be easily removed or dislodged during combat. The combination of a snug fit and the spring-tongue in a conventional fencing mask is not sufficient by itself to secure the mask to the fighter” — justifies the necessity for padding or suspension in a standard fencing mask to keep the fencer’s face protected from hard shots. Granted nothing is perfect, but this requirement has been handed down from the Society Earl Marshal, and we do have provisions in our rules to back it up.
Now, I know that this will cause some masks that lack any kind of padding or suspension to be disqualified. My own mask is now disqualified, as a matter of fact.
Here’s what you can do:
First, there are inexpensive masks made with the proper suspension available.
Second, some masks may be modified to provide that same suspension or padding. Stitching in fabric, or closed cell foam padding across the upper interior, against the forehead, and along the chin should do the trick.
The point is to provide something to secure the mask on the head so that a hard shot will not dislodge it or allow (to the best of our ability) a fencer’s face to be struck by the mesh when the mask is struck.
I realize that a very hard shot might indeed do this regardless of padding, but the theory is that this procedure should reduce injuries. Again, this is a requirement from the Society Earl Marshal.
Rapier Helmets will see some new inspection procedure soon, but the requirements have not been finalized yet. If you use a helmet (not a fencing mask) you can count on a couple of changes. First of all, you will also be asked to have the interior of your helm inspected before putting it on. If there are any internal protrusions (such as bolts securing a chin strap) these must be padded so that a hard shot will not result in your head getting hit by a bolt or other protrusion.
It is likely that you will need to have a suspension system, or padding to secure the helm as well, but we do not have a final word on how much padding, or what kind of suspension will ultimately be required. This should be cleared up soon, and when it is, you guys will get the information. If you have any questions or concerns please share them.
Thank you, Fergus
Kingdom Marshal of Fence