Combat Arrow and Bolt Inspection Guidelines
Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf, O.L., O.P.,R.C.A., R.C.Y.



A: When inspecting arrows and bolts, it is best to err on the side of safety.

B: When in doubt, consult with a more experienced marshal or Knowledgeable combat archer.

C: Check the arrows and bolts for compliance to any kingdom or event specific rules.

D: Failed arrows should be well separated from both the uninspected and good arrows.

E: During the initial inspection arrows that fail any of the test criteria should be separated from the rest of the archer's arrows. As each is failed, the inspector should explain to the archer why the arrow is being failed. When all the archer's arrows have been inspected, the failed arrows should be grouped together in some method (tape around all the shafts, bundling them into a single unit, etc.), and returned to the archer. Or, alternatively, if the archer has nowhere to put the arrows for safe keeping until he can repair them, they may be kept at the checkpoint until they can be retrieved.

F: The use of a wood, etc. reference gauge for checking blunt or APD diameter, nock penetration, padding depth, etc. can save time and argument.


A: Hold the blunt and shaft and pull firmly. The blunt should not move. If it does, examine the blunt and tape. Then pull again, harder. Some blunts and attachment methods can have some movement and still be secure. If the blunt comes off the shaft, has excessive movement or the tape fails, fail the arrow.

B: Examine the blunt for defects such as separation or failure of materials. Small tears or cuts in the tape that do not affect the safety of the blunt are acceptable.

From the SCA Missile standards.

"All blunts must be secured by at least one strip of 1/2 inch wide (minimum) good quality electrical or strapping tape. This strip shall run over the face of the blunt and down the sides, and onto the shaft for at least one inch. It shall be secured to the shaft by another strip of tape which wraps around it as well as the base of the blunt and the shaft. Other methods which provide equal or greater safety are permitted with the approval of the Kingdom Marshal." If the blunt is not safely secured, fail the arrow.

C: If the style of blunt requires padding, check that the padding is of the required minimum thickness and is still resilient. If it is less than the minimum thickness or has> insufficient give, fail the arrow.

D: Check the blunt for dirt, etc. that could come off on impact. If the dirt is not removed, fail the arrow.

E: Check the blunt for any sharp edges that could cause injury. If there are sharp edges, fail the arrow.


A: Hold the shaft at the blunt and the ADP with both hands. Then flex the shaft two to three inches and note any cracking sounds or uneven bending. Then rotate the shaft 90 degrees and repeat the process. If there is any indication of damaged shaft, fail the arrow.

B: Examine the tape on the shaft. It must be able to contain any splintering if the shaft were to break. Small tears or cuts in the tape are acceptable if they are minor.

C: The shaft should be no less than 1/4 inch diameter for fiberglass or 5/16 for wood.

D: Measure the length of the shaft. It should be no more than 28 inches from the base of the blunt to the bottom of the nock slot. If it is longer, fail the shaft.

E: The shaft should be clearly identified with the name of the owner marked on it. For interkingdom events the name of the kingdom should also be included. If there is no name, fail the arrow.


A: Inspect the tube on the shaft. Is the end of the nock with the string slot, no more than 1/2 inch from the back of the tube? If it is more than 1/2 inch, fail the arrow.

B: Inspect the tube. Is it still round enough that it will not pass through a one inch visor slot or bar opening? If in doubt, check it against a know legal helm opening or gauge. If it can go through and is not correctable, fail the arrow.

C: Inspect the tube for cracks. Squeeze the tube, this may cause any existing cracks to expand and be easier to see. If there are cracks, fail the arrow.

D: Hold the shaft in one hand and the tube in the other and try to move the tube back and forth along the shaft. If it moves backward more than 1/2 inch or if it moves forward so that there is more than a 1/2 inch of nock projecting past the tube, fail the arrow. Minor movement of the tube backward toward the nock end is acceptable.

E: Attempt to move the tube from side to side. A small amount of sideways movement is allowable, as this only affects accuracy and performance rather than safety. However, if the sideways movement at the rear is more than 1/4 inch to either side, fail the arrow.

F: Attempt to rotate the tube around the shaft. If it is loose, it may be a sign of the tape starting to fail. If it moves more than an 1/8 inch of a turn (approx. 12 degrees), fail the arrow.

G: Inspect for any dirt, etc. on the tube that could come off upon impact and get into someone's eyes. Fail the arrow until it has been cleaned.

H: Inspect the tape for damage or signs of beginning deterioration. Tubes that are no longer perfectly aligned, a little loose or a bit out of round are not reasons for failure. But, should be noted and corrected as soon as possible.




For questions related to this article please contact the author: Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf at


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