From the Master Laertes (Deputy Society Marshal, Rapier)

The Board of Directors has reviewed and approved changes to the Rapier Marshal’s Handbook concerning rigid head protection and padding. The revised handbook has been posted and is now available for download on this office’s webpage –

In summary, the two changes are:

1. Revise section 2.B.iv. to require head protection to be inspected both on and off the fighter. In addition, examples of impending failure indicators were added to the language.
2. Add section 2.B.v. and to bring our rigid head protection requirements with established best practices for contact sports. Along with adding a requirement for a snug fit, the section also details the requirements for padding in the different type of masks and helms currently in use.

The full text of the changes is appended to the bottom of this post.

A new version of the handbook has also been provided to the SCA’s Stock Clerk.

At each KRM’s discretion, there is a three month grace period effective until May 1, 2017 for the interior padding of masks and helms to be brought into compliance. In essence, the grace period is an opportunity for the KRMs to get the word out to the kingdoms and give people unaware of the change an opportunity to address any issues without bouncing them off the field. It should not be used for combatants to delay meeting the requirements. That being said, the inspection of the interior of masks should already be happening in all kingdoms.

Master Laertes McBride
Deputy Society Marshal, Rapier





iv. The exterior and interior of masks and helms shall be inspected to confirm compliance with the rigid material standard and provisions on coverage, a snug fit and no evidence of impending failure. Examples of unacceptable conditions include (but not limited to): the interior padding or suspension system has decayed and fails to prevent contact between the wearer and any rigid part of the helm during combat; the presence of rust which weakens the metal involved; dents or other defects which spread open mesh and/or broken weld points. If there is concern about the face mesh of a modern fencing mask, it should be tested using a standard commercial 12kg mask punch. Marshals doing the testing shall be trained in the use of the punch. The Kingdom Rapier Marshals may elect to designate certain deputies to administer such testing.


v. All parts of a fencing mask or rapier helm that might cause injurious contact with the wearer’s head shall be padded or shall be suspended in such a way as to prevent contact with the wearer during combat. Either method should ensure a snug fit with minimal shifting of the mask or helm on the fighter’s head during normal fighting and upon impact. There shall be NO major internal projections; minor projections of necessary structural components shall be padded. All metal shall be free of sharp edges.

a. The interior of fencing masks must have a minimum of .25 inches (6.35mm) open-cell foam or equivalent resilient padding to create separation between the mask and the wearer. Modern fencing masks (e.g. FIE and USFA type masks) in good working order meet this requirement without additional padding.
b. For rapier helms that utilize a suspension system which does not, on its own, prevent contact between the wearer and any rigid part of the helm, additional padding must be present. This padding must consist of at least .25 inches (6.35mm) open-cell foam or equivalent resilient material.
c. Rapier helms without a suspension system and which rely on foam must use a minimum of .25 inches (6.35mm) closed-cell foam or equivalent resilient padding which provides progressive resistance to create separation between the hard outer shell of the helm and the wearer.

vi. Similarly, parts of the inside of the helm that might come in contact with the wearer’s neck or body should be padded.

(the current v., vi. and vii. sections become vii., viii. and ix.)