WEAPONS ADVICE PART 2 | Blades


BLADES & OTHER WEAPONS

Other weapons used in production can be obtained from several sources. They can be rented from an appropriate armory or be bought from an armorer specialised in making blades. They can be sourced from your production armourer, props master or fight director. I carry several swords myself as I am often unhappy with what I am offered to work with. The fight director must be consulted when sourcing weapons for a fight.

*Purchasing a weapon can be a good option if needed for some weeks or months. Some armories however will need considerable time (months) to actually make the item. If you hire the weapon from an armory and there is an issue they will be able to quickly replace it.

What hazards are associiated with other weapons?

  • Penetration wounds

  • Cuts and abrasions

  • Bruises and concussion.

Other weapons (specifically swords) can be broken into three categories.

  • Sharps (with a sharp edge or tip designed to injure or kill)

  • Blunts (with a blunted edge and tip capable of being used with a degree of safety in theatrical combat)

  • Wall hangers (purely decorative weapons with little or no use in combat).

Precautions

As with firearms, a risk assessment should be undertaken. The fight director or armorer should contribute to this assessment and the findings communicated to all relevant members of the production.

  • In film and TV, a fight director and/or armorer should be present whenever a weapon is activelyused in production.

  • The fight director should be consulted prior to the choosing of weapons intended for use in any combat. Please bare this in mind.

  • Appropriate training is required in the safe use of weapons. Training must be provided to the actors by the fight director.

  • The appropriate safety equipment should be available as agreed between the Costume Dept and the fight director. eg Gloves NB Safety equipment needs to also be available for rehearsals.

  • An appropriate amount of time should be allocated to the organization and rehearsing of actions involving weapons in production.

  • A fight director should be employed to choreograph any combat.

  • Never overrule the advice of the armorer, fight director, or other weapons specialist.

Storage

Weapons should be locked in a secure dry area, or kept under guard when not in use. In theatre productions, weapons should be locked up and not left on the props table overnight.

Transportation

The law states that the blade should be covered at all times. Security is the primary rule when transporting weapons. If a weapon is lost or stolen, it should be reported to the police at once.

When moving weapons abroad, some countries are very stringent about blades. Keep the airline, airport and other appropriate authorities informed. It is best to travel with weapons such as swords dismantled. In my experience if a sword doesn’t look like a sword it is less likely to cause concern. Think ahead and if you feel it necessary, hire new swords in the country in which you will be working.

Weapon Hire and Care

There are several potential pit falls when considering the hire of a sword or knife, or staff etc. The most common problem relates to the hire of swords. Swords which are required to be used in theatrical combat must be of fighting quality.

A bad sword will do one of four things.

1. It will bend when it makes contact with another blade.

2. It will snap when it makes contact with another blade.

3. It will shatter when it makes contact with another blade.

4. It will chip or serrate when it makes contact with another blade.

Number 4 is perhaps the worst offender on this list as it can turn the weapon into a very dangerous thing indeed, almost like a saw.

Fighting quality weapons are designed to be friendly. Yes, in the wrong hands they can be very dangerous things but when used in combat they should be strong enough to take a parry without appearing on the offenders list above.

Other things to consider when hiring a weapon are the period of use, the style of the piece, do I require scabbards, what exactly will this weapon be used for, is there textual evidence about the weapon, is it worth buying the weapon, how much time do I require it for, should I hire a “spare” in case of a break? etc.

Do not be afraid to ask any questions of the supplier! If you have additional information which you feel should be included on this page, please let me know!


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