A comparison of arrow construction

From AmtWiki

A comparison of arrow construction; And Bow use.

Belegarth, Dagorhir, Darkon, and Amtgard all do not allow compound bows to be used. All games have a maximum 28" draw length with required draw stops for those arrows longer than 28".

Draw weight:

Belegarth, Dagorhir, and Amtgard all use a 35# draw weight for bows. Darkon allows a 40# draw weight.

For Belegarth and Dagorhir crossbows must have a maximum draw weight when loaded of 15 pounds or less. Darkon allows crossbows with 30 pounds or less pull, 40 for hand crossbows.

Amtgard allows for 450 inch-pounds on crossbows.

Arrowhead size:

Darkon requires arrowheads to be at least 3" in diameter. Dagorhir and Belegarth state that arrow striking surfaces may not easily pass more than 0.5 inches through a 2.5 inch diameter hole. No part of the arrow’s striking surface may be less than 2.5 inches in any direction.

Amtgard simply has a 2.5" diameter rule. "The 'point' of all arrows must have a diameter of at least 2.5 inches." Does this mean that arrows must have a flat face at 2.5 inches? If it doesn't, should they?

Foam used on arrows: Belegarth, Dagorhir, and Darkon all require that the arrow tips be made with open cell foam.

Amtgard only requires that 2" of closed cell be used but suggests the use of open cell foam.


Belegarth requires all arrows must have at least two full fletchings. Dagorhir require all arrows must have at least two full fletchings (feathers) and a nock. Darkon requires at least three fletchings.

Amtgard doesn't have a requirement for fletchings for nocks, it just states they should be in good repair.

Tape on arrowheads:

Belegarth states that the striking surface of an arrow must be tape free. Dagorhir states that only duct (cloth) or strapping tape may be used in arrow construction and that there can be no tape on the face of an arrow.

Darkon and Amtgard make no requirements for tape on the striking surface of the arrow.

Tape on the arrow shaft:

Belegarth doesn't have a requirement for this. Dagorhir requires that all wood and fiberglass arrows must have their shafts wrapped in tape. Darkon requires that fiberglass, wooden, and graphite arrow shafts must be covered lengthwise in tape.

Amtgard requires that wooden arrows must be taped along their entire length. Nothing is said about fiberglass or graphite arrows.

Lateral movement of arrowhead:

Belegarth says the arrowhead should not have excess axial or lateral movement. Dagorhir states the head of the arrow must not be able to be moved from side to side. Darkon doesn't have a requirement for this.

Amtgard doesn't mention anything about side to side, lateral, or axial movement.

Melee fighting with a bow:

Belegarth doesn't state anything specifically that I can find that prohibits the use of a bow in melee. Dagorhir says that bows may be used to turn aside thrusts without suffering any damage. However, if a bow is hacked or smashed by a red or blue weapon, or used to stop a thrust, the bow is considered broken. Darkon states that you may not engage in melee combat while holding a bow, nor may you block with a bow. Players blocking with bows will lose their arching privileges.

Amtgard doesn't state anything beyond if a bow is hit by a weapon, it is destroyed.

Checking equipment:

As I understand it, Belegarth and Dagorhir have weapons checks before fighting starts for the day, and arrows in Dagorhir will have a mark made upon them by a Marshall to ensure that they have been checked and approved as safe. Darkon has a check-in every fight day where weapons are checked. Darkon even allows Marshalls to cut into projectiles to ensure safe construction.

Amtgard simply suggests that arrowheads should be checked regularly for degrading foam.

Is there anything that Amtgard can learn from other boffer LARPs about archery safety? Sure. I think the archery and arrow construction rules should be reviewed by the Circle of Monarchs to ensure we are as safe as possible with arrows. I also think a clear and properly labelled picture of arrow construction should be used. The one we have now isn't sufficient to relate how an arrow should be constructed and what should be used (tape, pennies, foam types, etc.).

After a quick google search I came up with a few sites for how to build arrows. One seemed to conform to the current rulebook (http://french.frii.com/~nhf/arrow1.html) of using 2" of closed cell foam. Another didn't have a diagram so I couldn't visualize how they were made (http://www.zianet.com/egil/advice/arrowmaking.html). The next site I found (http://amtgard.com:8080/how2arrw.pdf) didn't conform to the current rulebook way of using a penny perpendicularly to the shaft. Instead it used rubber blunts, which are not legal anymore as I understand it. The scariest thing is this how-to is on the amtgard.com webpage to illustrate how to build an arrow. This needs to be removed, for sure. The last site I came across was Moorcat's, and seemed to illustrate a good way to make arrows, except for the possiblitly that stressballs might not be closed cell foam.

So, my personal opinion, now that this discussion has brought all this up, is that we need to revamp the archery and arrow rules and conform to a specific standard to what should and shouldn't be used in Amtgard arrows. A clear diagram would help. Maybe increasing the minimum diameter to 3" might help also. If nothing else changes, then mandatory weekly weapons checks should be made the standard for all weapons, not just arrows, before battlegames start. Yeah, it's a hassle, but I think that would go a long way towards avoiding some unnecessary injuries. Other games show that they can do it, why can't we?