Sotahuuto vuodelta 2023. Photograph used by permission

Text Severi Boesen

Read article in Finnish here

Soft fencing, more commonly known as boffering is a form of combat re-enactment performed in scenarios, which follow a set of  commonly agreed upon rules, and are fought with self-made soft fencing swords. The defining factor of scenarios is the number of participants, which can be anywhere between two and a thousand. The objectives of scenarios can be for example capturing the flag of your enemy, or besting your enemy. The most commonly used weapons are one- and two-handed weapons,  polearms, such as spears, throwing weapons, such as javelins and bows. The rules standard follows the official rules of Sotahuuto, along with the general rules of combat, which in turn are monitored by Suomen Pehmomiekkailuliitto.

The general rules of boffering are fairly simple. The aim is to score a hit on the enemy on any of the predetermined weapon hit zones, which are for example the blade of a sword or the tip of the arrowhead. The hilt of the sword or the shaft of the arrow do not need to be counted as hits. This type of hit on a limb renders the limb useless and it can no longer be used to either hold a weapon or bear weight during the scenario. A shield can withstand an endless amount of hits, whereas a hit on armor gives it an armor point and it can withstand one extra hit to the same area.

Boffering has a reputation for being safe, thanks to the carefully maintained rules. Boffering seeks to be a low threshold hobby for new enthusiasts and the hobby itself requires nothing more and enthusiasm to join in! First timers can easily borrow practice weapons to try boffering out. After a short amount of practice building your own weapons is quite simple and other hobbyists are usually willing to help. It is also fairly easy to find instructions on how to build a boffering weapon online.

Sotahuuto 2023. Lupa saatu kuvan julkaisuun.

Sotahuuto 2023. Permission to use photograph

Boffering hobbyists can be found nationwide in Finald from most major cities to smaller municipalities. Activities of hobbyists include local training, indoors during winter and outdoors from spring to fall in spaces, such as public parks. Training sessions are organized by small groups of friends, boffering associations and many others. Hobbyists collaborate with schools, local associations and city hobby services. These endeavors seek to ensure that the hobby stays as affordable and preferably free, as possible, while drawing new people into the hobby through collaborations as well. Recently boffering has become included in school physical education classes, and become an audience draw in numerous local happenings.

For more information on boffering, such as building training weapons and the hobby in general in Finnish can be found at

The official communication platform is  Suomen boffaajat -Discord, where anyone interested in boffering can join the discussion. It is an open moderated space, where you can find training sessions in your area, ask questions or just follow the discussion.

Sotahuuto 2024. Lupa kuvan julkaisuun.

Sotahuuto 2024. Permission to use photograph