Introduction: Jugger Weapons

About: We are a developer and a designer who enjoy ridiculous adventures, travel, cooking, cycling, and making stuff. Our deepest desire is for people to find learning new stuff to be fun.

EDIT: since we first wrote this Instructable, we've built a couple more sets of Jugger weapons. The old instructions are attached here (jugger_weapons_old.pdf), and we've updated these instructions to match our new construction process. You'll find these weapons are lighter and more flexible than the previous ones. Happy Jugging!

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've been playing in the San Francisco Bay Area since July 2014. If you're in the area, join us: we schedule weekly games in Berkeley and San Francisco on our Facebook page! If you're not familiar with the game, you should watch a quick primer on how the game works, or some non-stylizedmatches to know what to expect once you finish your pompfen.

This instructable will cover how to make two full sets of pompfen according to the Colorado Jugger League specs (2015 Rules of Play.pdf) plus 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 $250 (versus $350 for our old process). You may have stuff laying around that you can use for some parts, and maybe you can find some things cheaper, but expect to spend somewhere in that neighborhood on your pompfen.

Step 1: Acquiring Supplies

List of Lengths

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:


  • 2x1850mm
  • 2x1575mm
  • 2x1275mm

Foam Insulation:

  • 2x900mm
  • 2x850mm
  • 4x500mm
  • 2x450mm

Rubber Insulation:

  • 4x575mm
  • 8x500mm
  • 8x100mm

Once you've calculated what you need, get ready to go shopping!


For our most recent weapons, we broke out the sewing machine and made fabric covers. If you don't have access to a sewing machine (or someone who knows how to use one!) you can instead use duct tape as a covering material: just substitute duct tape for the fabric below. Note that colored duct tape is more expensive than fabric, so be prepared to spend a bit (~$50) more or sacrifice a bit on colorful awesomeness if you go this route!

Shopping lists:

Home Depot:

  • plastic garden chain, 2 x 8'
  • 3/4" high pressure PVC pipe, 2 x 20' (or whatever you calculated)
    • should be rated to 460 PSI (the ~240 PSI stuff is too flexible, and will whip around dangerously)
    • if your vehicle won't fit 20' pipe, cut it in the store. make sure to cut the lengths indicated - if you just cut it in half to 10', you'll end up wasting a lot of pipe!
  • 3/4" foam pipe insulation, 5 x 6'
  • 1" rubber pipe insulation, 5 x 6'
  • corrugated plastic sheets, 3 x (4' x 8')
  • paracord, 2 packs
  • black duct tape, 1 big roll

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?

  • 8-12 sq. ft. of 1/2" foam
    • anything from 1/2" to 1" is usable, but 1" will make for heavier shields
    • if you get a bit extra, you can use it in place of pool noodle below for short swords and extra padding

Fabric Store:

  • thick cotton fabric, 3 yards on a 60" bolt in each color
  • thread, 1-2 spools
    • 1 is more than enough, but you can get 2 separate ones in your team colors if you really care about presentation
  • woven belt material (for straps)
    • usually this is over next to the ribbons, cords, zippers, etc.

Sports Equipment Store:

  • mini Nerf football, x12 (we found ours at Walgreens; you can also try kids' toy stores)
  • pool noodle
  • bike handlebar, tennis, or hockey tape (for handles)
    • tennis racket tape is often cheaper than bike handlebar tape, and it provides the same extra padding
    • sometimes bike shops will have extra handlebar tape on hand; ask the repair department :)

Goodwill/Urban Ore/Rando stuff around your house:

  • golf clubs, x4
    • don't buy these new! you can often find these in thrift stores for a couple of bucks.

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 item. Ironically, it shipped from Nevada with stickers on it, so who knows about that one.

Equipment list:

  • pullsaw (chopsaw optional, but not necessary)
  • scissors
  • drill + medium-size drill bit (1/2")
  • tape measure
  • permanent marker (or other marker/pen for marking lengths)
  • sewing machine

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 four, which all follow the same general method of construction:

  • cut PVC pipe
  • tape coins (or other flat objects) over the ends of the PVC pipe
  • mark padded and unpadded sections on PVC pipe
  • cut foam insulation for padded sections
  • wrap foam insulation around padded sections
  • cut one tip off a Nerf football so that the cut side is 15 cm from the other tip
  • drill a hole in the middle of the cut side of the Nerf football
  • fit Nerf football onto PVC pipe so that it protrudes 10 cm off the striking end
  • securely tape Nerf football onto foam insulation
  • cut rubber insulation for padded sections
  • wrap rubber insulation around padded sections, leaving 5 cm extra padding space off the pommel end
  • stuff the pommel end with foam bits (pool noodle or similar) and tape over with black duct tape
  • cut and sew fabric to fit weapon
  • wrap sports tape around the handle sections for grip/padding

As an example, let's start with the long swords. First, mark off 1275mm of PVC pipe and cut using the pullsaw. Tape coins 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...!). Before continuing, make sure you clearly mark where your padding needs to go.

Next, it calls for one 900mm section of foam pipe insulation, to cover the area from the top of the handle to 5 cm from the striking end. If you bought 3/4" pipe and 3/4" insulation, it should just slide on and stay in place.

Now we prepare the football and fit it onto the striking end so that it meets the foam insulation.

Next up is the rubber, with one 100mm piece and one 500mm piece. The 100mm piece is for the pommel end. For pommel ends, we leave 50mm extra on the end, so we have 50mm on top of the pipe and 50mm off the end; this latter 50mm is what we stuff with foam. The 500mm piece is for the striking end. For striking ends, we overlap ~50mm of the football.

For a fabric cover (duct tape covers are described in our old tutorial), you essentially need to measure the largest circumference of your pompfen (as described, these are roughly 9.5", but leave a bit of extra space!), and the length of the parts you want covered in fabric. Then, sew a simple rectangular drawstring bag (for example, using this tutorial) large enough to cover that bit. We used simple t-shirt material strips for our drawstrings. You can use paracord, but it's slightly too thick to knot nicely. You'll simply pull the bag down over the pompfen end and tie it off at the bottom of the padding.

Short Swords

If you're using golf clubs for your short swords, the process there is slightly different. You start by cutting the head off a golf club, and instead of the foam insulation you skewer foam chunks (pool noodle or similar) onto the golf club to cover the foam padding section. In most cases, you can also use the existing club grip instead of adding sports tape.

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.

Also, make sure you do tests for thrusting! Thrusting is legal with all weapons in the US rules (some rulesets forbid thrusting with the staff, so check locally), so you need to make sure that thrusting is ok, too!

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 are the mini footballs, green is foam pipe insulation, and pink is rubber pipe insulation.

Step 5: Making the Shields

To make a shield, you need the following materials:

  • Corrugated plastic sheets
  • Handles (we used sander block handles)
  • Foam enough to cover a 60cm circle in 2 layers
  • Pipe insulation to protect the edges
  • A bit of pool noodle
  • Duct tape

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:

  • foam soccer ball
  • plastic garden chain
  • paracord or soccer ball trainer net
  • pool noodle
  • material for chain handle (we used basically life jacket strap)
  • duct tape

We've updated this section! The first thing we tried, which was passing a single loop of paracord through and around the ball, eventually led to the foam ball being slowly cut in half over time of using it. Because everything is soft, there wasn't exactly a catastrophic failure at the end, but the ball did detach from the chain, then fall apart into 2 halves. We didn't notice this because of the duct tape. Anyway, don't do it that way. New plan!

You need to have several stress points to even out the force on the ball as it spins around. You can accomplish this in several ways: one is to buy a soccer ball trainer net, but if you want to really go the DIY route you can either wrap the ball several times in paracord or do what we did, which is weave a net. We basically followed a YouTube tutorial for net-weaving (there are many Instructables for this, also), then wrapped that net around our ball. It's not pretty (though with more practice it could be), but it certainly gets the job done!

Once your net is around your ball, loop a piece of paracord around the end of it. This needs to be a long piece: you're going to weave it between all the links of the chain (see photos) to make sure the ball stays attached.

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. Also, be sure to puncture a few holes in the duct tape on the ball: this makes hits a little softer because it lets the air escape more easily.

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

EDIT: you can make it like this, but it's not very sturdy unless you cover it in tape. There are other Instructables for making these, but we've found these skulls ($35, made by Gil Richard of the Halifax Jugger League) to be the best for both durability and appearance. Alternatively: many German teams just use duct-taped foam cylinders, or you can use a larger foam football in a pinch.

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:

  1. Each team is made of 5 players.
    1. 4 of those players have weapons, selected from all weapons. At most one chain per team! These people are called Enforcers.
    2. 1 person has no weapons. This person is called the Qwik. She is the only one who is permitted to touch the skull with her hands.
  2. The goal of the game is to get the skull from the middle of the field into the goal/cup at the opposite end (that is, you have to get it past the other team's enforcers)
    1. This is mostly done by having the Qwik pick up the skull
    2. Enforcers may also use their weapons to sweep the skull down the field, but they may not score this way
  3. If you are hit/touched/poked by a weapon
    1. By a normal pompfe (longsword, short sword, staff, or qtip), you go down for 5 seconds
    2. By the chain, you go down for 8 seconds
    3. In the head, the person who hit you must go down for 5 seconds
    4. In the hands while holding a normal pompfe, it does not count (being hit in the hands when you are a Qwik or using a chain does count)
    5. By someone who is not holding her weapon correctly (for example, she only has one hand on a two-handed weapon or is not holding it in the correct location), it does not count
    6. And someone holds his weapon to you before you get up, you must wait until he lets go before you can move
    7. You cannot do anything while you are down (you cannot pin another player, for example)
Hand Tools Only Contest

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Contest