Imagine yourself as part of a post-apocalyptic battle team. The sun beating down on you, catching and glinting off your weapon. The ground soft beneath your feet. Your enemies across the field beginning to look worn down, their eyes betraying fear....
Now you can be. ;) In Germany some time ago, we learned of a sport called "Jugger" based on a post-apocalyptic movie from Australia. The sport has evolved somewhat from its depiction in the movie, with foam-padded weaponry and t-shirts replacing steel and armor. We finally agreed that we should make a set of pompfen to play.
Now we're done! We are hoping to start a jugger league here in California, as for some reason its only toeholds in the US are Ohio, Missouri, and North Carolina. I can tell you that we are much stranger out here, and this activity suits the area. Do let us know if you're interested in coming to play with us: we schedule weekly games in Berkeley on our Facebook page.
We made our weapons using a mix of the to the game's Australian-style rules and Berlin-style rules, and our play is a mixture of the two, as well. If you're not familiar with the game, you might want to watch a quick primer on how the game works, or some non-stylized matches to know what to expect once you finish your pompfen.
This instructable will cover how to make two full sets of pompfen and a dog skull, which is everything you need for your first game of Jugger! The total cost (for us) of all the materials was around $350. You may have stuff laying around that you can use for some parts, or you may not want to splurge on the neon duct tape (the gray kind will do just fine), and maybe you can find some things cheaper, but expect to spend somewhere in that neighborhood on your pompfen.
Step 1: Acquiring Supplies
We had some trouble following the directions exactly, because all the measurements are in metric (damn you, England!). We attempted to convert everything to standard, but it turns out that while a 20mm pipe will fit inside a 25mm pipe, a 3/4" pipe won't fit inside a 1" pipe. So....
Note that it really depends what lengths of pipe you can find how much you should get. We basically wrote out the lengths of the pieces we needed and did a fun knapsack problem to figure out the least number of pipes/pipe insulation sheaths to buy in the lengths that were available. It turns out that this is way easier to do in metric (damn you, England!). The lengths you're going to need (if you can't find the same lengths of supplies we got) are as follows:
Once you've calculated what you need, get ready to go shopping!
Local Foam Retailer???:
Ok, this is a weird one, but we actually have a local foam retailer in Berkeley. I'm not really sure what to suggest for other places, but you could probably find this kind of stuff at a mattress store or a custom upholstery store?
Goodwill/Urban Ore/Rando stuff around your house:
Unfortunately we couldn't find the right ball for the chain anywhere we looked, so I asked my old Jugger team what they use, and they pointed me at an Amazon.de item. Ironically, it shipped from Nevada with Amazon.it stickers on it, so who knows about that one.
Step 2: Introduction to Regular Pompfen
You'll be making six Pompfen per set: Q-Tip, staff, long sword, two short swords, and chain. We'll cover chain-building in the next section. For now, let's focus on the first five, which all follow the same general method of construction:
As an example, let's start with the short swords. They use the least material, so the cost of messing up is lower. First, mark off 600mm of PVC pipe and cut using the pullsaw. Put duct tape or a bit of leather over the ends of the PVC pipe: this will help keep the sharp end from tearing through your foam (we learned this the hard way after a few weeks of playing...!). Next, it calls for two sections of rubber pipe insulation, one 600mm and the other 100mm. The 100mm piece is for the handle end. For handle ends, we leave 5cm extra on the end, so we have 5cm on top of the pipe and 5cm off the end. The 600mm piece is for the striking end. For striking ends, we leave 10cm extra on the end, so we have 50cm on top of the pipe and 10cm off the end:
Next up is the foam. We don't need to cover the 100mm handle, only the 600mm striking section. What about the other dimension? The foam has to wrap around both pipe and insulation. We used a width of 23.5cm, but you should measure the circumference yourself. (It took us a couple of weapons to get this width right anyways, and it doesn't have to be exact.)
To hold the foam in place, apply duct tape. We don't want to compress the foam, so we always tape down the length of the pipe, leaving some extra to tape over the end.
With the foam held in place, apply tape around the whole Pompfe. Again, always tape down the length of the pipe, and leave extra to tape over the end. Once you finish taping around, wrap around the handle part. Repeat taping procedure for the handle end:
And that's it! All normal Pompfen use the same process.
Step 3: Normal Pompfen: Strike Testing
STOP! Before you continue: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS strike-test your weapons on yourself before having others use them. DO NOT USE POMPFEN YOU HAVE NOT STRIKE-TESTED TO PLAY JUGGER. Grab your first weapon and have a friend swing at you: start with soft hits, and gradually increase force from there. You should be comfortable taking moderately strong hits to all parts of the body except head and groin. If you aren't comfortable with that, you need more padding, better padding, or both.
Step 4: Normal Pompfen: Schematics
All normal Pompfen use the same construction process described in Step 2. In this step, we've provided schematic diagrams for each Pompfe, with pipe and padding lengths marked clearly. The black is PVC pipe, the blue is the rubber pipe insulation, and the green is the softer foam.
Step 5: Making the Shields
To make a shield, you need the following materials:
To measure out the circle on your plywood, get a piece of rope and tie a permanent marker to the end of it. Sweep it around in a circle, drawing your pattern as you go. Sure, you could use real tools, but what fun is that? The board is going to be covered in so much padding that it doesn't need to be a perfect circle now, anyway.
Get your Rotozip! Rotozips are probably my favorite tool. Anyway, cut along the pattern you just drew. Again, doesn't matter if your line-following is exact: you're going to cover the edges, anyway.
Lay your arm down on the back of the shield. Where is going to be comfortable to put straps? How long do the straps need to be? These are questions only you can answer: once you get everything laid down, make some marks with your marker so you can put it in the right spot later. Cut your straps to length, and figure out where on the straps you want to fasten.
Drill through both the straps and the board with a bit large enough to accommodate your bolts through the hole. Your drill should be able to make it through your strap material, but feel free to drill separately if you're concerned about it. Just be sure to mark where it will line up with the holes in your board.
Now, the bolts! Put the bolt heads on the front of the shield, so the backs come through the strap last. This will mean less stuff sticking out on the front of the shield, which is safest! To protect the wielder of the shield, put some Sugru (self-curing rubber) on the ends of the bolts in back.
Cut foam and layer it on the face of the shield. Poke around the parts of the shield where the bolt heads are to make sure you can't feel them too much through the foam (a little is ok, but just remember that people could get hit by this). If you can still feel them, add a bit more foam. Tape it all down. For the edges of the shield, use pipe insulation: this should fit nicely over everything you've laid down so far. You'll want to tape it down, too, though. If you have gaps in your insulation (see images), then you can fill them with bits of pool noodle.
For maximum comfort of the wielder, you can add extra bits of foam on the back of the shield where the arm rests in the straps. Just make sure to tape them down, and don't add so much foam that you can't get your arm in anymore!
This shield is pretty heavy, being made out of plywood. We have seen that others use different substrates for their shields, including plastic disc sleds and corrugated plastic. You can certainly use a different base material depending on what you want from your shield.
Step 6: Making the Chain
Still with us? Good. Now for the fun part: the chain! Of all the Pompfen, the chain is arguably hardest to use well. It makes up for this with a reach of nearly 3m, a longer time penalty against players it hits, and the sheer awesomeness factor of swinging it around at high speed.
You'll need the following materials and equipment:
First, carefully drill a hole right through the foam soccer ball, and remove any loose bits. Double up the paracord and pass the middle through the hole in your soccer ball.
Loop the chain through the paracord to attach the two together. Pull the chain about halfway through the ball using the loose ends of the paracord. Wrap the paracord around the ball, then weave it back through the chain links.
To make the chain a bit safer, cut several 50mm sections of pool noodle and feed them onto the chain, placing them up near the ball. This is the part that swings fastest (aside from the ball itself), so it's best to pad it a bit.
Wrap the ball and pool noodle sections in duct tape. With the ball, take care not to compress the foam too much.
Finally, attach a belt or fabric handle to the end by feeding it through the final link in the chain and duct taping it closed. Straps or other strong fabric materials work well. You don't want anything too heavy, as the chain can slip out of its wielder's hands.
Step 7: Making the Dog Skull
This step requires a little bit of creative flair, and we can't really provide clear directions of how to do it. There are also many alternatives that are both more and less fancy: in Germany, the official "skull" used in Jugger matches is a simple cardboard cylinder wrapped in duct tape. We wanted to have something that resembled a skull at least a little bit, so we use our Nerf football as a canvas to carve something dog skull-like.
Take your bread knife and cut into the football from the front, top, and sides to get something that resembles the shape of a dog skull (you can look at photos for inspiration if you want). Any colorful plastic coating (ours was blue and orange) should peel off during this process. Once you have a shape that you're happy with, spray several layers of white spraypaint over the exposed foam to serve as a bit of a protective layer. There are certainly fancier techniques that could be used (latex coating, for example) to make a really durable and nice skull, but this has worked ok for us so far. Unfortunately our skull is already kind of dirty in the photos... but such is the price of jugger. :)
Step 8: 3... 2... 1... JUGGER
With two complete sets of pompfen, you're ready to play! Check out the rule sets linked in the intro for more details, but the basic rules of the game are as follows: