Youth Combat Archery – It Should Be a Thing!

Youth combatants in Aethelmearc

There have been several discussions over the years regarding youth combat archery, and though I have not been privy to them all, I have engaged in a few. As the Score Keeper for the IKCAC it has become more of an issue lately as youth who wish to participate must use ‘adult’ equipment. We have to date had at least one youth score entered, but using equipment they aren’t required to use in their own combat (for those that enjoy the sport) it is a real change. For those that are trying it for fun (including adults) it is different to have a helm and gauntlets on regardless of course.

What are the concerns?

So what are the blockers for creating rules for CA for youth? Initially the concerns are in the area of poundage of certain bows. For instance my crossbow hits fairly hard at ~520 ppsi (pounds per square inch). This would simply be too much given the armor requirements that youth is currently using. Not to mention Baldars hit a little harder than UMHW.

So whats the solution?

The overarching goal is to not replicate work. If this is already underway, let’s work together to promote the idea. The more we all work in concert, the more quickly this will become a reality. This is totally achievable, if not, why not. I truly hope we can open discussions about this across the known world and address any potential pitfalls or concerns. Please comment below with your thoughts and there is a draft document as a supplement.

It strikes me however (see what I did there?) that limiting youth to recurve would do the trick. Perhaps limiting the head type to UHMW as well. This more resembles ‘archery tag’ rules/equipment. Perhaps even requiring more padding as is required for Rapier.

Remember that for the IKCAC it isn’t as relevant, but what we might be looking for is consistency and standards. Regarding combat though, we should afford youth the same fun that adults enjoy! Combat Archery is so much fun and many youth are attracted to archery (target and combat). Being able to bridge this gap can be an important tool in broadening their horizons and opportunities. Not to mention the differing skillsets and related arts.

Call to action!

Please share your thoughts and concerns in the comments and the shared doc.

References:
https://sca.org/officers/marshal/docs/marshal_handbook.pdf (VII.G.6.e.ii)
https://www.sca.org/officers/marshal/youthcombat/docs.html
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oZhjBQZJVWCfeczqZS006fPK0LSsGmU-W5Y3TxpeJCY/edit?usp=sharing

Thinking outside the (IKCAC) box

With a recent refresh of the rules for a new 2019 (and future) seasons, an interesting idea was put forward by a friend in An Tir…

During the distance, and close range, there is no issue, you can set up multiple targets (30 and 10 yds) and simply switch targets. The interesting part comes in regard to the ‘advancing round’.

What if there are three targets set up on the range (30, 20, and 10 yds), and in lieu of advancing forward physically, there is a point or post 5 yards behind the (green) shooting line.

How the range might be set up using the post method
How the range might be set up using the post method

After shooting the two rounds at the thirty, you move to the ‘Advancing Round’. Once you get your two shots off at 30, you may advance and shoot at the 20, and repeat. What if instead of advancing, you physically walked/ran to a post behind the line, returned to the line, then shot normally?

How the participant would travel around the post
How the participant would travel around the post

Its an interesting concept, and one that I think would work… However there are some potential issues..

Loaded behind the line:

One should not have a spanned crossbow/bow or arrows/bolts loaded on their bows behind the line for any reason. This is especially true in a mixed line. One can argue that a shoot, solely dedicated to IKCAC, in a safe space, where all participants are aware, this can be done safely, that is not the scope of this post.

I prefer to load as I walk. The same way I perform in combat: always moving, always loading, always hunting. Using this method, one should not be loading while traveling to and from the post, to the line. It creates a safety hazard. What if the prod should break while in action and the bow is pointed ‘down line’ towards other participants? If using the post method, shoot, move to post and back, get back on the line, load and shoot.

Comfort of archers

It is the case that most archery lines are not comfortable, nor familiar with the type of explosive movement that can occur in combat archery. People leisurely shooting their Royal Rounds 10 feet away, may be greatly distracted by someone suddenly running off the line and back.

If one were to attempt this method, make sure all participants are not only aware this is happening, but are ok with it. All the line marshals as well as the MiC should be aware and be assuaged of any safety concerns.

Additionally, make sure the participants of the IKCAC are comfortable with the set up! Some may refer the physical advancement. If it can be run either or both ways, do what is best for the populace and participants!

Elbow room

Space can always be tight, but if there is room to run the IKCAC on its own, that may be a better fit. Though in some cases, a mixed line may be preferable. A mixed line also affords greater visibility to the IKCAC to participants who may not otherwise know it exists. If there is loaner gear, it also makes it easier for someone to walk up and try it out the same we afford in target archery! That said, make sure there is plenty of space for all activities. We want to ensure we are working together!

Conclusion

We all need to make sure the thing we love, is what we do. Talk to your Autocrats, and your Marshals in Charge. It is our job to not only make sure our thing is happening, but that it is advertised, has space, and is done safely!

Heed the call of your Warlords!

throwing maces and daggers
throw-y thingies

We all want to have fun on the field. It is vitally important that we listen to ourselves, and gauge properly. This can dictate our level of involvement. Taking this as a given, there are things we can do to be as effective as we can be, regardless of perceived (or real) level of engagement.

A few topics of note…

Your Tactics
After considering what your comfort level is, it is important to gauge the scenario and your place in it. By way of example, bridge battles and open fields are very different beasts, and how you engage can vary. In an open field you are a sitting duck. Pair up with another archer, or find someone with a shield.

Fighting alone can work, but you need to keep your eyes open and be open to change your tactics as the battle progresses. Generally your job is not a front line job, but second or third in line is perfectly acceptable.

Armies Tactics
As combat archers and siege engineers, were are limited by the number of events we can attend and practice at. Go to events where Siege and CA are not happening, and be a spectator or water bear. This affords a great chance to see how the armies communicate, eaves drop or participate in conversations about tactics. watch how squads break up and form.

Looks for groups who practice together and watch their tactics. How do they file up? Who’s in front or back? Which weapons are most effective for the chosen positions? What can you do to fill gaps in a squad that has formed? Why has a squad formed?

A Tuchux squad may have formed to spearhead a rush, that may not be the best use of a CA’s energy.

Commanders and Warlords
Know who your Commanders and Warlords are. Listen to their commands. In war scenarios they are constantly surveying the situation and plans can change. There should always be purpose in commands. In the example of timed scenarios, the timing of these commands are usually crucial. And if the commanders are doing their job, it should make your job easier and more fun.

Show up before the battles start, sit in on the pre-battle huddles so you know what the plans are, and if unclear, ask what your role is!

Effective CAs and Engineers almost always play a vital role in victory. If a commander calls for an archer, take note and be available. If they call for siege at a location, rain devastation on that location.

Go to events that are set up for commander and unit training. In Atlantia we have War Practices that are just for this. Talk to your heavy community and find out when and where.

Communication
Some of the aforementioned depends on communication. In the scenario of a bridge battle, width is a premium. Its legit to say, “archer advancing”, and move up to the second or third line. When approaching a teammate, let them know you are there with an, “Archer on your left shoulder <YOUR NAME HERE> (or person in the blue tunic). If they have shields they can help defend you from incoming pole-arms and arrows. But they can’t if they don’t know you’re there.

The act of being vocal about this can also strike fear in the defenders line. You will see the ‘pucker up’ effect when shields start to crowd and pole-arms step back or aside. Necessarily making them less effective.

Know your commanders and sub-commanders voices, keep an ear open for commands being passed along. Listen to the lines when they say, “Take out the person in red”. Generally this means that opponent is being particularly effective and their removal helps lead our team to success.

This topic of communication deserves a whole article of its own, but is a lesson learned with time, and awareness.

Flexibilty
Cross authorizing in weapons forms can be a very handy thing. For instance if you are authorized in Siege and CA, If you see an engine is down to one engineer, and your team can be effective with siege in the scenario, fall back and assist on the engine. Or vice versa!

Do you have plenty of archers and no cover? Grab a shield and a handful of thrown weapons. You can act as a moving wall for another archer, as well as deflect from the random heavy charging in to club a ‘baby seal’. Authorize in spear or pole-arm. Perhaps a scenario doesn’t allow for CA or siege, that doesn’t mean you need to sit it out, grab a spear and get to work!

In the end the more you put into the job, the more satisfying it will be. Knowing you are effective, needed, and respected goes a long way.