This page is intended as a simplistic but informative guide for to assist fencers selected for international fencers to prepare and pass international weapons check independently.
What is Weapon Check?
Weapon Check (formerly Weapon Control) is where some or all of your fencing kit (not just your weapons!) is inspected and tested before fencing starts. It’s done to make sure it’s safe, fits the rules, and works (in that order).
Weapon Check is done at World Cups, Grand Prix’s, World and European Championships and some other events (like the School Games).
The rules that govern your equipment inclue
FIE Material Rules & FIE Publicity Code (here)
FIE Equipment Rules (here)
Why is there Weapon Check?
Weapon Check helps to ensure that when you present yourself to fence:
Weapon Check is also the way that competition organisers ensure that there is a level playing field by preventing deliberate attempts by athletes to modify their kit to gain competitive advantage.
Weapon Check is there to help you. It’s not trying to “catch you out”, it just lets you know where equipment isn’t safe or up to scratch. So that when you get to the piste, you can be confident your kit will work to its best, that it won’t cause you penalties, and that you can fence in safety.
From a competitions organisers perspective, failing kit can be a significant cause of competition delay.
When does Weapon Check happen?
The Weapon Check will always happen before the event starts. At Junior World Cups this will usually be the night before the competition.
If it’s a team event or a Major Championships, you will normally be required to put all the team kit in one or two labelled bags. The details of when and where you hand in and collect your kit will be given to Team Managers (where these are in place), and will also be available from the competition reglements (which can be found on http://fie.org/competitions).
What kit is checked?
This can vary from competition to competition but the minimum you can expect will be masks, weapons, body-wires and lames. Major Championships will also check jackets, breaches and plastrons. Competition organisers will typically publish a list and there are often limits to the numbers of items that any one athlete can submit at one time. (eg 3 wires, 2 masks, 4 weapons etc.)
How do I know if my kit has passed/failed?
If your kit has passed it will now have an official date stamp or label attached to it (typically referred to as a ‘control mark’), there may also be a piece of paper included in the bag showing what passed, what failed and why it failed.
You must ensure that you know where all the control marks are as you will be expected to show the referee when you present on the piste.
Why you should never argue with the Weapon Check officials (!)
Weapon Check officials typically spend hours in small rooms doing a thankless task. They will be supervised by an experienced qualified individual who will probably know a lot more about the rules than the fencers.
The BF Code of Conduct expects all BF members to be respectful toward officials and this includes officials of international tournaments.
Treated nicely and with respect most armourers will explain how you can fix your kit if they have the time. Be sensitive though to large queues of people behind you and the fact that the armourer will be under pressure to process this.
If you are very lucky and there is time (often there is not), they may even fix it themselves. But you should never expect or rely on this and remember to politely thank them if they do!
If you are very sure of your rules, and you can point to the relevant rule on the FIE website, you can try to (politely) challenge the decision of the armourer. At FIE events, armourers can refer the query to the FIE representative at the event. Be very sure of your ground before going this far.
How to prepare for Weapon Check and avoid problems
A. Check your own kit regularly
You should check your own equipment (clothing, wires and weapons) before every event, whether there is a Weapon Check there or not.
You should get into the habit of checking your kit (after training and competition) before putting it away.
Athletes travelling abroad with a GBR team are expected to be able to fix their own kit. This includes U17 fencers who should be able to diagnose and fix the basic problems that arise with fencing kit. These skills are best learnt at club, but there are also armoury courses and youtube videos!
B. Be honest with yourself about what you see
C. Be nice to the Weapon Checkers
Bear in mind they will often work several hours non-stop doing nothing but equipment checks. Whenever you can save them time, it helps.
Appendix A – Checklist
The following items can be checked with little or no equipment. With practice, a complete check of these will take you no more than a couple of minutes:
Lamé jackets, gloves and masks can be checked visually, but you will need a multi-meter for a full check.
For weapons, once you’ve done the visual check, you’ll need a weight and gauge and either a test box or a multi-meter. You can use these to check wires as well.
(Thanks to Simon Axon for producing the original document)
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