Mask check question

Discussion in 'Armory - Q&A' started by Purple Fencer, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. Mergs

    Mergs Podium

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    After 13 yrs, FINALLY back in Texas
    OK, we've gone from trying to teach the pig to sing to wrestling with the pig, which by the way, the pig loves. Nezt we'll try to put lipstick on it and call it beautiful. Anyway you look at it, it's still a pig and is not going to change. Give up trying and walk away from it, guys. In the end he'll end up bacon and ham.
     
  2. Robert Smith

    Robert Smith Made the Cut

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    Just to keep this whole thread going... I had email this week from Physical Chess, advertising:

    "PCM0 - Low Budget PRACTICE 3-Weapon Mask

    Foil and epee competition mask, sabre practice mask, this mask DOES NOT pass 12kg punch test, with insulated mesh; sewn-in bib; internal padding can be hand-washed for cleanliness and hygiene"

    Now, that scares me. What would you use a mask that is guaranteed to fail the punch test for, other than straining spaghetti? Wonder if it comes pre-stamped with "FAILED"?.....
     
  3. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    WTF????? That's utterly bone-headed....a mask can fail in practice just as it can in comp!

    Scathing Email sent to PC....CC to Dan
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2008
  4. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    Because I had a typo.

    I'm saying *click* it. it's a link.
     
  5. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    Yeah that's just asking for trouble. See, we agree on things.
     
  6. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

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    Looks like they are trying to clean out the ones they have had for about 8 lyears.
     
  7. fatfencer

    fatfencer Podium

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    Ok so when Mike Marx has a flaw in the mask pointed out to him as a result of testing (visual AND punch) how is that a post hoc fallacy???

    We are showing instances like these are both significant enough to warrant a minimum of per tourney mask punching and that the impacts avoided are sig enough. Not that noe of this is hearsay/anecdotal pseudo-bull**** like you'd like to claim. Real world experience, which in and of itself is DATA that you are looking for. It may not be enough for YOU... but it certainly is data. Fact is, if a mask is found to be defective in the mesh its only a matter of time until it fails. Period. Indisputable. If it fails when an epee goes thru it somebody dies or is severely maimed.

    Masks are either safe or they are not. Once the threshold has been crossed and it is noticed by control it MUST be removed. The more mask testing the better. Both Don and Sam have failed masks that are brand new. Rare, but one life is enough to outweigh the minor inconvenience of punch testing.

    Mask punching and visual PROVES safety, verifies its existence or lack thereof.

    There is no post hoc fallacy. You have been given concrete, real world data about how someone didnt fence with a failed mask. These people are still fully functioning.

    End of story, you lose. At best your claiming the need of a study smacks of proving the sun comes up in the morning when observation is all you need.

    FF

    PS: Mergs you are right, this is a pig. However, I'm just waiting till Telk, Whtouche, et al get face-porked by an epee... I promise I will laugh my ass off. To do otherwise would be hypocritical....humane, but hypocritical.
     
  8. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    I got a response from PC.....and as I expected, I was pretty much told to mind my own business....s'okay....Dan has the info he needs.

    I don't particulary CARE if you've got 3 decades in the biz....pitching that maskas usable only for wall display is one thing....usable for practice is QUITE another.
     
  9. Philistine

    Philistine Rookie

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    Conceptually, how is this any different than vendors selling non-FIE jackets?

    Heck, there have been more deaths caused by puncture wounds to the body than there have through failed masks.

    Let me try to explain why I think some people are resisting punch-testing at every tournament. I think there are several reasons:

    1. What they're used to. You are obviously used to a standard practice of punch-testing at every tournament. To you, this is a required safety protocal. Others aren't used to it, and see no ill effects from it not being required. So in order to change the inertia, they want some sort of justification.

    2. Concern over competence of those doing the test. Where you are, it sounds like most people know what they're doing. There has, however, been a fair amount of stories (and yes, I know that the plural of "anectdote" is not "data") of improperly performed tests, and those who seemingly "try" to fail masks. When a mask is likely the single most expensive component of kit, any time a mask without visible signs of problems gets failed for failing a punch test, people are most likely not going to be happy.

    The armorers here tell me, but I suspect that if you catch a broken wire over someone's eye, they'll thank you. If you fail a mask that looks pristine, they're most likely going to be peeved, not "relieved" that you identified an unsafe mask.

    3. Cost-benefit. Number 3 ties in with number 2. For most people, a mask that looks "OK" is probably going to be perceived as "good enough." Fatal mask failures are exceedingly rare. (2 in the last 75 years or so?) Other risks at least somewhat involved in fencing are much more significant, yet receive less testing. Alex Paul, on the first page of this thread noted the fact that other equipment is not tested, despite the fact that most kit in the US would fail an equivalent test to the mask punch.

    I think the section on catastrophic injuries in the chapter on Fencing in Epidemiology of Sports Injuries, D. Caine, C. Caine, K. Lindner (eds.), Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp. 186-195 (1996) is instructive in looking at the magnitude of the risk:

    Also of interest would be Incidence and Characteristics of Time-Loss Injuries in Competitive Fencing: A Prospective, 5-Year Study of National Competitions. in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine (can anybody get the full text?)

    Many more people have died travelling to and from fencing events than have been killed at those events. You also see quite a few people (as discussed in several threads here) fencing in shorts, or taking lessons without a jacket. I think it's fair to ask why testing for one problem should be mandated when larger issues slide by.

    4. Comprehensiveness of testing. From responses here, it seems that there are a number of divisions where punch-tests are not performed other than at the largest tournaments (perhaps tying in with 2, at some of the small tournaments I've been to, I'd be suspicious of the level of knowledge and skill in testing of those who would be doing the tests). As has been pointed out, there does not seem to be any correlation with fatal (or even nonfatal) mask failures while fencing and the prevelance of testing in a division.

    Beyond that--my SWAG is that probably at least half of those doing any kind of regular fencing (constituting both USFA and non-USFA fencers) never have their mask punch-tested. I also suspect that in a great many small clubs (college, recreational, etc.) that many of the masks provided to those who don't have their own equipment would fail a punch test. And these are also often those most likely to buy a cheap mask when they get around to buying a mask, anyway. Essentially, the problem is that mask checking at every competition isn't really addressing the people whose masks most need testing.

    5. Stridency. I think this is shown on both sides in the thread. I think the (unspoken) accusation that those not performing punch-tests at every tournament are putting lives at risk puts people's backs up. In the same way that the accusation that those in favor of mask-checking at every tournament are know-nothing do-gooders isn't helpful.

    All in all--I'd like to see some sort of study or investigation (by SEMI or otherwise) on testing and mask safety, and a recommended frequency of testing. Then some implementation of testing beyond just at tournaments.

    Anyway--sorry for the length.

    --Philistine
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
    griffindm and Mr Epee like this.
  10. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    The specs on the mask are spelled out pretty clearly in the rulebook and US ops manual. In both cases (FIE and Non-FIE masks) the strength of teh mask is specified....that's not so on the other clothing items in the US...it simply says "sufficiently robust material" which leaves a LOT of room. There has been a push to actually codify the material at 350N, but I don't think that's gone through at USFA level yet.

    Gloves are even worse....the only rules state that the cuff must come halfway up the weapon forarm, and it may be lightly padded.....by that reading, you could sew a sock to a Playtex glove and it'd be legal.....not GOOD by any stretch, but legal.

    My beef with PC isn't that they're selling a weaker mask that just passes the test (like the JLs a few years back), but that they're selling a mask they ADMIT doesn't pass the established standard for use in practiceon the strip.

    I didn't make Constantine very happy with me....I don't particularly care...it's unsafe.

    Even the Triplette "FIE" would be better than this one...at least we know the Triplette would pass the tests (the "FIE" controversy was not safety related, as the parts used WERE good quality, and the frame WAS an FIE one)
     
  11. PeterGustafsson

    PeterGustafsson Rookie

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    Hi!


    Let me start with some assumptions:
    1. Less than 100% of all mask punch tests will be performed correctly in a regions with a mandated regular testing program.
    2. All, or at least a large majority, of the incorrectly performed tests will result in a not insignificant amount of mask wear.
    3. Given present knowledge, it is not provable that even correctly performed mask punch tests will not result in an unmeasurably small amount of mask wear.
    4. Fencing organizations will not exhibit the ability and will to track the total amount of use on each mask, so the only feasible test protocol will involve testing either at each competition, or on given time intervals.

    Let us assume that the time interval method is chosen. Then comes the question: what time interval should be chosen? If it is long, it gives plenty of time for a fatigue crack to propagate, and the crack can become dangerously large - though still unnoticeable to the naked eye - between tests. This is not optimal with regard to total amount of mask failures. OTOH, if the time interval is chosen to be very short, the large amount of testing will introduce test-induced wear and fatigue. This is also not optimal with regard to total amount of mask failures. Obviously, there is an optimum time interval somewhere in between.

    What is the this optimum time interval? Well, that depends on (at least):
    A)the %age of test which are performed correctly,
    B)the average wear/fatigue for incorrectly performed tests,
    C)the average wear/fatigue for correctly performed tests,
    D)and the distribution function of usage intensity for the set of the tested masks.

    All of those parameters and functions are at present unknown. Therefore, it is quite impossible to state that a given time interval is the best possible one. Without reliable data for A-D, the question can not be answered.

    However, if a new test method were to be invented and implemented which does not cause any wear/fatigue in normal use,and is really difficult to perform incorrectly, then one could use as short a test interval as one would want without risking anything else than long holdups at the start of competition. I have previously started a thread on the desirability of such a testing method.


    Have a nice time!

    Peter Gustafsson
     
  12. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    A bit of a necropost....but when running mask check at the HS epee/sabre in Brentwood yesterday I failed TWO sabre masks....both in the same place, ironically. These were JL masks with the cheek plates, so they were a bit on the soft side to begin with. They also looked pretty new....the 2nd oen that failed was in use less than a year, yet it failed in front if the mouth area.

    Any more questions??
     
  13. fencerbill

    fencerbill Podium

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    My guess would be corrosion from exhaled moisture. In front of the mouth is where I have found the most rust while rebuilding masks. Could be due to not enough corrosion resistance provided during manufacture of the steel mesh of the mask.

    There cannot be any doubt that moisture can rust out masks within not much more than a year or two. I have seen too many where the mesh has just dissolved in contact with cheek padding where the mask is left to rot damp in a fencing bag.

    Why more apparent in Sabre masks? Again, just conjecture. But the exterior of the mask is required to be uncoated. Not every mask is made of the same truly rustless stainless steel. If the interior of the mesh is not adequately protected against moisture, there could well be a pattern of early deterioration to the point of failure during punch test.

    Good reason to do maintenance of the mask during its lifetime. Not that hard to turn back the chin padding, brushing off the rust and touching up the mesh with almost any spray paint.

    Lesson learned for armorers: Sure, test in front of the eyes. But also test in the mouth area.
     
  14. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    I hadn't even considered that issue....interesting.

    Neither mask showed any visible signs of rust or other deterioration...so much for assertions earlier in this thread that a fencer could spot it if an armorer can't.
     
  15. HDG

    HDG Podium

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    You already know I agree with you, but does this dead horse need more beating?
     
  16. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    So what you're saying is that two fencers were fencing with masks that would fail a punch test for at least an average of 6 months and nothing bad happened?

    Yeah I can see how that supports your point.
     
  17. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    I'm saying even a relatively new mask can fail the punch....one that showed no visible signs of wear or damage.
     
  18. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    And I'm saying unless the masks you failed suffered massive corrosion instantly just before you tested them, it's very likely that the fencers were using an unsafe mask for a decent period of time.

    Once again, the logical conclusion of your train of thought is that unless you punch a mask before each touch, you are risking your life. This is, of course, technically true.

    I do think regular testing of masks is a good thing, but I don't see any evidence to support your theory that your testing interval is better than any other.
     
  19. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    And that's good or safe HOW, exactly?

    Testing before each tournament is a DAMN sight better than once in a blue moon...especially if the mask has an unapparent flaw that could've been caught by more frequent testing....like the 2 I failed.

    You can disagree all you want....but if you fence at ANY tournament in Southern California....your mask is getting tested.
     
  20. telkanuru

    telkanuru Podium

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    That's all true. It is, however, not the same thing to suggest that serious injury or death would occur had the flaw not been caught.

    The basic misunderstanding here lies with the fact that I am thinking in probabilities while you are thinking in absolutes.

    Let's use this example:
    The New England division tests masks at 1 competition per year.
    The New England division hosts ~30 tournaments with ~120 events per year.
    There are several thousand bouts fenced at New England division tournaments every year.
    There are several hundred thousand hits received every year at New England Division Events.
    There are no injuries or deaths sustained every year in the New England Division due to mask failures.

    Another division of the USFA tests masks.
    This division has approximately the same number of bouts, hits, and touches per year.
    There are no injuries or deaths sustained every year in this other division due to mask failures.

    Question 1: are events in this other division less likely to have a catastrophic mask failure?
    Answer: Absolutely.

    Question 2: are events in this other division statistically safer than in the New England Division?
    Answer: No.

    Question 3: is the likelihood of a catastrophic failure increased by a statistically significant amount by only testing once a year versus several times a year?
    Answer: No.

    And what you continuously refuse to get is that I have NO problem with that. Test my mask after each touch if it makes you feel like you're saving lives. Just don't expect me not to roll my eyes at you.
     

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