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Larp archery guide – part 3: safety

Larp archery guide – part 3: safety

In this part of the guide, I will focus on the safety issues regarding using a bow on a larp. The topic is very important since an inappropriate and inept use of a bow can cause harm to others and yourself.

The safety of others

First and foremost: you can’t shoot at someone’s head! Although a larp arrow’s head is secured, hitting a sensitive spot can cause a strong pain or damaging an organ like an eye. The shape and size of the head theoretically makes is impossible for the arrow to enter the eye socket, but the energy of the arrow can produce such an impact that it may damage an eye or a nose.

During one of the larps I played I aimed and shot an arrow at a player armed in two short swords. The distance between me and the target was about 8-10 metres, so I aimed at the torso, not taking the arrow fall into consideration. The other player, seeing that I was shooting at him, tried to dodge the arrow. It hit him on the neck. It caused him to lose consciousness for a moment. After the fight, we were analysing what happened with the medics.

The conclusion was this: the energy which the arrow carried onto the other player’s body caused a neck muscles spasm, which in turn led to a short hypoxia in the brain and the following loss of consciousness. Luckily, there were no other consequences to that accident. The other player quickly regained his footing and we returned to the game. The shot was taken by an experienced archer from a distance of about 10 metres; the bow used had a drawing weight of 12 kilos and the arrow was a safe iDV product.

IDV arrows have save heads that make sure that an arrow doesn’t pierce through the target, and their shaft is made out of fiberglass, which due to its elasticity is very durable when it comes to accidental stepping-on or ricochets. It’s a great advantage that gives an arrow a longer life-span and greater safety of use in contrast to arrows with a wooden shaft.

In the turmoil of battle no one pays attention if they’re stepping on arrows that were targeted at a crowd of fighting people. A courtesy to an archer is throwing an arrow away from the fighters and helping to collect them after the battle scene is over. Let’s respect gear and that belonging to others; let’s take care of it so it can be of use for many years. Throughout a dozen of years I’ve been larping I’ve lost eight arrows. Some of them were taken away from me.

I’m sorry to say that by “taken away from me” I understand the fact that another player didn’t care to take a look around the forest to find their arrows so they took mine, which had my name signed on the fletching. I was able to recover some of them after the game – the players who took them weren’t very happy that I found out what they did. Some arrows were lost in the bushes, high grass, another player’s quiver. Remember to gather all found arrows in one place after a battle or a fighting scene. It makes recovering your gear much easier. Another trick that works is signing / marking your arrows. The larping group ‘PIÓRA’ has worked out and shared the following system everyone is welcome to use: Archers designation database

I have been using iDV arrows for over a decade now and none of them has ever broken. Meanwhile, I’ve seen the sad faces of people who used make-shift arrows with wooden shafts. After a small skirmish of about 30 people, an archer who shot seven arrows at the fighters had to throw away three of them. Two were broken and one had splintered which made it unusable. And here I would like to focus on such arrows with a splintered wooden shaft. Such cracks can be invisible for an eye or during a fight, picking an arrow we won’t see the damage. It can break completely when hitting a target and a thin sharp wooden piece of the shaft may pierce the target.

Similar damages of a wooden arrow may occur during its flight, when it ricochets from a tree, a wall or an opponent’s armour. The arrow’s shaft may splinter as a result of a ricochet, fly farther and hit an accidental target, causing harm. I strongly recommend using factory-made arrows with a safe head and a fiberglass shaft only.

There’s is one more issue to discuss when it comes to arrows: control.  During the few years of being acquainted with the iDV arrows I’ve witnessed two occasions on which a head has fallen off an arrow while the bow was drawn. In one case the arrow was shot and it stuck into a shield. In the second case my friend immediately aimed the arrow at the ground and stopped drawing the bow. After that we’ve discussed the reasons for such incidents. We came to a conclusion that when you have  a bow with a too long draw, you can rest an arrow’s head on the bow’s riser and push it out from the embedding on the arrow’s end. The second conclusion was that the arrow was quite old and the material fatigue could be a factor.

The guidelines we decided to follow from the on were: necessity to regularly control the head’s placement on the arrow and fitting a bow to the archer, so the head is not rested on the bow’s riser. I recommend checking your bow’s condition on a regular basis.

The safety and comfort of the archer

Using a bow entails a few small inconveniences. The first one of them is the bowstring hitting your forearm. Many less experienced archers as well as those suffering from a hyperextensive elbow have a problem with the bowstring hitting the inner part of their forearm. Apart from training that will teach a proper grip, one should also use a vambrace protecting the forearm against the unpleasant contact with a bowstring.

A second convenient solution is using a finger protection on the hand that draws the bowstring. Aiming for a long time and shooting on a larp may lead to an unpleasant sensation of numbness in the fingers caused by the bowstring cutting into the fingers. The easiest way to avoid it is using a leather protection on fingers. It’s a piece of a leather fabric or three-fingered glove which is a great protection for the aforementioned phenomenon.

The last issue is protecting your bow hand – the one that holds the bow. If we use a bow without a shelf for an arrow, the arrow rests on the space between the index finger and the thumb. What can happen (mainly when using an arrow with a fletching made out of bird feather) is that the fletching is not properly attached and it can lead to injuries of the hand during shooting. It can be prevented by wearing a glove on the bow hand. I also recommend using a leather glove when shooting burning arrows.

If your budget does not amount to a purchase of separate gloves to be used strictly by your archer character, you can simply use a pair of leather gloves that will fit almost any costume and will give you a modicum of protection.

With kind regards,
Łukasz “Captain” Krasoń

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