Running the Gauntlet: Demi vs Full

A question that gets asked a lot: What gauntlets can I use for Combat Archery?

According to SCA Martial Law (XVIV. GLOSSARY. A), demi-gauntlets fit the bill. This is the minimum requirement, but as always check your Kingdom Marshal Law regarding same.

But is that what you really need? Depending on how active you plan to be in combat, it may be the perfect fit. However you may find that killing people on the field is so much fun, you need to invest in more diverse ways of dealing out death blows (spear, sword, etc).

If the latter seems your case then you may want to consider investing in good, articulated ‘full’ gauntlets. I suggest articulated because it will afford the dexterity you will need to handle Combat Archery equipment effectively and safely, yet allow you to switch the ‘heavy’ weapons as well.

It is true that most fighters try not to club Combat Archers like baby seals, but it can happen. When it comes to protection, wear the best and most padded you can without trading (too much) performance for protection. You can augment purchased gauntlets with additional layers of closed cell foam if needed. Get some industrial rubber cement, trim the foam, and slap it on! You can still get hit in the hand. Remember Combat Archers, always assume you will get hit!

It is true that ‘full’ gauntlets will run more. ‘Demis’ can be made very easily with leather and rivets with varying levels of quality. These look like a good standard well made demi set. You can even find patterns and instructions. Here is an example of articulated gauntlets. These will certainly be more expensive, but may be the last pair you ever buy.

For the cost of entry though, demis are generally very affordable. Dont spend too much time on the issue if you can afford a pair. If you find later you need to change up, you can. But it is always worth considering options as soon as possible. We all aren’t made of money you know!

Happy Fighting!

Getting ready to be a Combat Archer

So…

you’ve decided you want to hit the road as a soldier of fortune shooting people in the face, sounds fantastic! A few things you may want to think about before starting your adventure! There are lots of considerations: ammo, weapon type, armor, tactics, authorizing… Lets take a brief look step by step, shall we?

SCA Battle Scene

Ammo:

What a topic this can be. Lets start with the easiest path, just go buy your stuff! Sitting down to make bolts or arrows can be a daunting, time consuming, and exacting task. After my last batch of crossbow bolts, at least 6 failed, and I’ve been making them for some time! Back to the drawing board with them, but it goes to show even a seasoned CA can make mistakes. For this reason I would suggest buying your first kit. I would start with no less than 25, but you will be better served by at least 50. This will account for scenarios where you wont have time to ‘glean’ your ammo in between. Take heart though, many people, myself included, if we have extra bolts and you ask, we will share in a pinch.

The general concept for ammo is this: Safety. each step or precaution is suggested or required with safety in mind. It never hurts to go above an beyond to ensure the safety of our fellow combatants. For more info, reference Section VII.G

Weapon Type:

Notice I didn’t just say ‘bows’? Because we can use pavices and thrown weapons as well.

Bows? I’d recommend for a starter a solid fiberglass bow. As a quick reference from the Marshals Handbook (MH) See: Section VII.F.7. Additionally get a string that isn’t crimped on at the ends. A nice Flemish String is solid and not too pricey.

You mainly have a choice of bow, or crossbow. The generally fall into the light and heavy category, but mostly light. Each time you get inspected, the bow will be measured for poundage. For this reason I would recommend a 25# recurve (if that is your choice) as this will afford some variance in poundage up or down.

What about thrown weapons? Wow these can be fun. I’ve even seen people take the field with ONLY thrown weapons in limited engagements, but remember the ammo issue, you can carry a ton of arrows/bolts, but only so many thrown weapons. This would include axes, maces, daggers, spears*, daggers being the easiet to carry a load of. There is also an issue of accuracy, thrown weapons tend to be less accurate and range.

Armor:

There is a lot of resources available here. Go to any fighter practice or event and chat people up. The main thing to remember here is the only real difference is hand protection. Demi gauntlets are ok if you are only engaging in CA, as opposed to full gauntlets. There are some variances depending but this is the basic rule. Minimum armor requirements (Section VI): Head, gorget, elbows, kidneys, knees and hands. But Id encourage you to go further and get as close to a ‘heavy’  kit as possible. Depending on your ‘fighting’ style, you can find yourself right up in front taking hits with the best of them, at times like this, you will appreciate adequate protection. Even if you’re the type of combatant to hang back, you should still expect to be hit. In a pinch and missing a few pieces? Ask around, lots of people have loaner gear, especially if you’re looking to get authorized and expect to get a kit ready soon.

Tactics:

Use your friends and terrain effectively. If you are able, show up to war practices and work with our regular army. If you are unfamiliar with combat in general, go to a few events and watch battle scenarios and imagine yourself in the melee. How would you react if you were ‘there’ when that rush occurred, etc. Use your shield-mates. and communicate. Tell them you are behind them and foster a symbiotic relationship where they tell you who to take out, and they cover you. Once you can start to think like an archer, you can respond appropriately. Work in twos when possible. A lone archer can be a sitting duck.

Authorizing:

In order to take the field as a CA you will need to authorize. I humbly suggest if you authorize as a CA, you additionally authorize as siege, and vice versa. This make you more versatile as an asset, and you can fill slots on an engine at a critical time, or if an engine dies, you can grab a bow and rejoin the fray.

What should you expect at an authorization? Study the rulebook for both Society and Atlantia. Know your weapon,  and ammo types, armor requirements, rules of engagement.

Conclusion:

Look, I gotta stop somewhere… This is very brief (well maybe not), as it was meant to be. There is so much more ground to cover. But we are a very welcoming and helpful group. Please reach out if you ever need help. “We’re ready to believe you.”

References/Resources:
http://www.sca.org/officers/marshal/combat/c_archery/

http://www.sca.org/officers/marshal/docs/marshal_handbook.pdf

https://www.facebook.com/groups/95468199155/

www.elkridgearchery.com/

*there is a difference between a melee spear, and throwing spear

Making Combat Bolts – Fiberglass Baldars

Recently talked someone through making some bolts and I thought it would be helpful to have some visual references with a step by step guide.

A kit as sold by Northstar Archery

Lets assume you have the pieces all purchased.

Got all your bits? Lets go!

Lets start with your shafts. Grab a blunt, you dont have to, but I like to smear just a touch of glue on the tip of the shaft. If you do this make sure to not over do it! Literally a smeared touch of glue. Place the blunt on the shaft and use the hammer to tap it down. You can flip the shaft and hammer the end of the rod but you may damage the rod and make it harder to seat the APD later. The blunt should seat 1 1/8″ down the shaft.

Once the blunt is securely in place, grab an APD. You should see a small pinhole on the APD near where the shaft goes in. This is where the excess glue can bleed out. Grab a pin and poke that hole to make sure it goes through and it clear of obstruction. This time, take a small pea-sized amount of blue and drip it in the APD hole. Insert the shaft in the APD. Now on the edge of a table or workbench, with the blunt on top and APD on bottom,

Illus. 1
Illus. 1

place the ring of the APD on the surface. The little nub at the bottom of the bold will be the only part hanging off. Hammer on the blunt to properly seat the APD. You may see a little glue squirt out the hole.

Next we will need the 1″ fiberglass tape. you want a piece that will go  from end to end of the complete fiberglass shaft. This tape wraps around the shaft just. The whole shaft must be covered so that no fiberglass is showing.

Next comes the wrapping of the APD and Blunt. If you have 1/4″ tape, use this, otherwise you can split a strip of 1″ into 2-4 vertical strips. You may lose a piece or two in the process as well as cut a few too short. You will get the hang of it.

Illus. 2
Illus. 2

On the Blunt, make an ‘X’ and let the tape go down on the shaft at least an inch. For the APD, refer to Illus. 2 and make an ‘X’ from the shaft to the APD tip, then flip bolt over and go straight down the APD to the shaft. The APD tape isn’t a requirement, but its a good thing to do! This can be done with electrical tape, but using strap tape will last a LOT longer and is that much safer.

Now we need to have pretty bolts right? Here is where

Illus. 3
Illus. 3

the electrical tape comes in.  You can at this point cover the blunt tape with colored electrical tape of choice to make it look nicer if you opted for strapping tape previously. Refer to Illus. 2 and note where the strap tape ends. Now we want to to start wrapping with electrical tape about a half inch above where the Blunt/APD ends, then wrap up/down until the strapping tape is covered. (Dont use too much gold tape! This is reserved!) Decorate to your content but remember the more tape, the thicker the bolt. Make sure the crossbow channel can handle it. Make sure you leave some space for…

Time for the label! I like to make a label in something like photoshop, but you can use Gimp, a label maker, whatever! Print out labels about 3/4″ x 1.5″. Make sure to include your SCA Name, Barony, Kingdom. Make sure its a legible font that can be read after being stepped on a few times. This covers all the bases. Now take your clear packing tape and go at least one and a half times around over the label.

Thats about it! Please post questions or comments in the comments below!

Next up, I’m all a quiver!

Additional Notes:

Bring extra tape and labels with you. You may get short on bolts and will need to do some last minute repairs.

If going to a war, I’d recommend at least 50 bolts because there may be a few battles before bolts get gleaned and re-inspected.

Ill shoot all my bolts at a board from about 20 yards. This is good target practice but also ensure the heads are seated.

Measure the shafts, if a few are longer, then the APD or Blunt may not be seated all the way!

Resources:

Northstar Archery Kits

Argent Plus


Your version may vary due to Kingdom law, please check yours before making any purchases or assembling. But as of time of writing, these are legal for Pennsic and most Kingdoms