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 Post subject: Problems at Armageddon
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 12:04 am 
Only .3% Short Of Perfect
Only .3% Short Of Perfect
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Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 5:03 pm
Posts: 671
Location: Alton, IL
Started Fighting: 0- 8-1999
Realm: Riverbend
Unit: Henneth-Annun
--- PREFACE ---

TL;DR: Weapon checking on Saturday at Armageddon was very bad. Vets need to stop being "above service" and we can't let the kids run the kitchen.

Let me preface this, for those who don't know me, by saying that I know what goes into running a successful event. I've ran events and done every task from top to bottom and in between. Volunteers more than anything else make this sport work. I sincerely appreciate everyone who donates time to make events possible. With that said, I do not believe that just because you are a volunteer, you should be above criticism. So it begins.

--- THE STORY ---

The weapon checking at Armageddon on Saturday (the only day I was there) was incompetent (I don't mean to be rude, but this is a factual statement, not an insult). Worse than that, the head weapon checker had an awful attitude and clearly was relishing the position of power that he was put in, in contrast to living up to the TRUST that the event runners showed him by giving him this sacred duty. My first incident was when someone brought me one of their old broken-in macuahuitls (aztec sword) that failed for hit. (for weapon nerds, this is a one-handed weapon built on 1/2" round solid fiberglass, approximately 34" in length. Dimensions of the blade are 3.75" x 2", aka, way more padding than a sword). This weapon felt great to me. Way more padding than a sword, not really all that much heavier, long enough to have a bit of give to the core, and very broken in so it wasn't stiff. A no-question, 100% pass in my book.

When I brought it up to check and asked to talk to the head weapon checker about why the weapon failed, I was spoken very rudely to a person. Here's a summary of what I was told:
-I am head weapon checker.
-I don't even know who you are.
-5 other people failed this weapon on "light"
-Go away.

There are a few things I will mention here. First, the weapon in question, by all historical standards, is extremely kind. If you sent it back in a time machine to before Belegarth became Amtgardified, no one would have batted an eye at it. Compared to PVC, double-core, and even standard 1/2"-round fibergass swords, this thing hit great and was very very safe (literally no chance of compressing to core with all that foam). Second, the person I spoke to, who neglected to introduce themselves, was extremely rude. I am a paying customer of Belegarth, not some serf to be talked down to by a lord. At the very least my weapons should have been failed apologetically. It is probably better that I am a veteran of Belegarth going back to before it even existed, rather than a new fighter. Can you imagine if I was a new person at my first event, how awful that experience would have been? Imagine if that were my only weapon, and now I just was told it wasn't good enough, and that I don't even deserve civility while being told that I wouldn't be fighting that day. This was a case where someone clearly relished the position of power they were given. Very sad.

Later, I sold a Foametheus MinRed weighing 24.2 oz. (blade dimensions 3.75" wide by 2.0") to someone who was indeed very new. His weapon failed for hit, and he came back to me very dejected. So I had to go to weapon check again. Before doing so, I happened upon Fox and discussed with him and Galin for a while weapon checking. I asked for their unbiased opinions and even had Fox give me a "light-medium-fox" check on my back with this unsafe weapon. Needless to say, I survived without injury. I went up to check again and sent it through check, noting to the checkers that it failed for hit previously (I always disclose when it's a recheck, and what it failed for previously, out of respect for the process). Incidentally, the person who was hit with it was at my realm, and passed it. I never trained this person and they don't check weapons at my realm, but apparently he was deemed competent to check the most dangerous weapons (reds) at Belegarth's premiere event (Armageddon) on the biggest fighting day (Saturday). But since I already knew that this weapon was safe, I didn't care. He was given official power to pass/fail by the powers-that-be, so that, plus the fact that the weapon was clearly safe, was all I needed to know.

After talking to many people at the event, I heard horror stories of stab tips on brand new, professionally-made weapons being tested by bending them sideways until the weapon broke, among other awful, incompetent practices at weapon-check. The bottom line is that weapon checkers clearly did not know how to do their job at this event, and it is time to point fingers and then, reluctantly, figure out how to prevent this in the future.


This is the point where I have to say again that I appreciate all the volunteers, who are doing a job that no amount of thanks can repay. But that does not absolve them of their responsibility to do a competent job. And the people who put them in that position also deserve criticism for putting them in that spot without proper guidance. Anyone can be taught to check weapons well, but it doesn't just happen without proper training. And I didn't see the vets up there helping these guys out.

By all accounts most aspects of this event were ran extremely well. It's mind-boggling to me that something so important as weapon-check would be put in the hands of people who clearly weren't up to the task, and had an awful attitude about it to boot. Weapon checking is _not_ about ego, it is about being a guardian of safety. As I said above, when a weapon has to be failed, it should be done with an eye towards customer service (the customer is the owner of the weapon, the person that is spending money and time to come be a part of Belegarth). If you don't understand this, you need to, and you shouldn't be running any weapon check until you do.


Belegarth is not Amtgard. We already have a game for people who like Amtgard, and we call it... Amtgard. Go play it. I do. And when I'm in their house, I play by their rules. But this is our house, and I have helped to build it so I'm pretty *. I know where Belegarth came from, and it is a full contact sport where we fought with double-core swords and nobody died. I remember when 1/2" round was considered the "light" stuff in contrast to what we were used to. Now we're starting to fail that! It's clear where this leads: a future where Belegarth is no different than Amtgard and nothing but kitespar and carbon passes.

Of course a solid fiberglass sword is going to hurt (but Brutus swords shouldn't hurt at all! Yes, they can. See paragraph above) more than a kitespar one. But solid fiberglass has historical precedent as legal in Belegarth. We fought with it for YEARS AND YEARS and it was safe. If you don't agree it should pass (assuming it is build with the same foam we've always used and their are no defects, etc) then I respectfully say "you are wrong." You just are. If you don't agree, you are asking to change Belegarth to be more like Amtgard (like we need it to be MORE like Amt) and that * me off. You're coming into my house and telling me to change the way I do things. Respectfully, go back to your own house and quit ruining mine.


I blame all the veterans. Specifically, all the old knights and anyone who has read this and has been around the sport long enough to have nodded their head at anything I said above. Look, weapon vendors make most of the weapons now, get it? People who build their own gear are getting harder and harder to find. And the ones who use anything other than a reblade kit are even more endangered. Ok? So the only vector left for teaching people the right way to do things is for the old timers to put their time in at weapon's check, and explain why weapons that hit with a thump are ok. You don't have to check 20 reds, but you should sit around and give your opinion on stuff that is failing. Explain the difference between a weapon that moves you, and one that you fear will compress to core on a bad shot. Explain flex and why you need some in a weapon. Give the historical context that someone who is 21 literally cannot have, because they aren't old enough.


I recognize that my point of view is not shared by some people and that's ok. I'm doing my best to save the sport I love from itself. I am sorry if anyone takes this personally, although I do hope that it causes some serious self-reflection in a few cases. It's not meant as a personal attack, but more of a chance to take a serious look at ourselves as a sport, and correct back to the path we have drifted away from.

Seriously, though, thank you to everyone who put their time in at this event, even if they didn't do a great job at whatever their tasks were. You tried, and that is more than the people who did not try can say.

 Post subject: Re: Problems at Armageddon
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:28 pm 
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Started Fighting: 22 Aug 2007
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