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The History of Billy Clubs

Billy clubs are hand held sticks varying in length but are usually no more than a yard long. It is like a thinner and shorter version of a baseball bat.  They are also called batons, truncheons or nightsticks.  They are defensive weapons basically used by policemen as part of their law enforcement equipment.  

Around the mid 1800’s policemen in London carried this stick along and in fact was like a badge of authority for the officers then.  Some believe the name billy club originated from bully club while others make reference to King William IV and the nickname Bill; although truncheons or batons have been in use since ancient times.

How a billy club is made depends on the type of club. The billy club has basically remained the same yet there have been many variations made.  The simple basic straight wooden club are still in use by many law enforcement agencies around the world today.  It is essentially a piece of hard wood cylindrical in form with a shaped handle, rounded in the front end , measuring from around a foot to 36 inches in length and over an inch in diameter.  Hard plastics have also been used as well as rubber.

There are also batons made with alloys like aluminum and are of the collapsing or expandable type. These are made with telescopic shafts that lock together when expanded.  There is also the side- handle baton which measures around 2 feet in length and has a perpendicular side handle about six inches in length. There are versions of these that are also expandable. 

Other variations of billy clubs include those which are flexible have a coil spring and a lead head covered in leather and having a leather strap as well.

A billy club or baton is basically a striking instrument and can be a source of intimidation.  Just the mere thought of being struck by a billy club would make many people think twice about advancing forward. It can be used to control crowds or subdue an unruly individual.  This is basically a self-defense weapon though and is intended for less lethal effect.

There are instances from the standpoint of a law officer when a gun should not be used and using bare hands would also not be effective.  This gap can be filled by a billy club.

There was a time in England when hitting an offender in the head to knock him out was the intent but this has been changed to hitting in non-critical body areas to avoid excessive damage or death.  Although at times during violent struggles the head gets hit even when handled by trained professionals. 

The billy club or baton is a piece of versatile equipment as it can also be used in situations like breaking a car windshield to reach trapped people or breaking windows or doors in other emergency situations. 

Many variations of the billy club or baton have emerged over the years. The intent is always to defend something or someone and not to cause undue harm. As in all cases before acquiring this instrument, it is best to check the laws in your locality to avoid any complications.

By Daryl Taylor 

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