Bows, crossbows, throwing knvives or axes, we have them all...
Archery was one of the most important skills throughout the Medieval period, whether for day to day hunting or as an important strategic element in warfare. Today we take part for fun and to improve our skill, holding practices and tournaments in field and target, as well as thrown weapons. Archery captured the hearts of many of the people who first found their way to the Society and the good news is that you can try it out right across the Principality. Practices are held in all our Shires, so you’ll need to check for the one most convenient for you. Most of our Shires hold a stock of loaner equipment to let you get a taste before you need to commit to buying your own, and there are people in every Shire who will talk you through your options when the time comes to get yourself kitted out. Find your local Archery Marshal.
The SCA – in order to be as true to times as possible – encourage the use of materials and methods available to period archers, so we focus on wood and feathers in our bows and arrows and do not allow modern compound bows. Target Archery concentrates on getting the archers shooting at a static target at various distances. We have a variety of fun shoots but the basic idea is that points are scored by shooting at a bullseye from a standing position on a clear field. Unlike rapier and heavy combat, archery is suitable for supervised children who are old enough to draw and safely shoot a bow, so it is a useful activity when you're bringing the family to an event. Please note it is very important that they are aware they must pay attention to what the marshal says at all times.
These are shoots where we try to mimic situations faced by medieval archers: Shooting around the trunk of a tree, in wooded landscapes, using 3-D models or firing through castle windows and arrow slots at targets below. The happen less commonly than target archery but are hugely enjoyable. You can test your skills at things like a William Tell shoot: could you shoot an apple off someone's head? (where that someone not a real live breathing person, of course!) Loaner equipment is usually available, but do check in advance with a practice marshal and, if you are attending an event, make sure you've let someone on the event team know you need loaner equipment well when you book!
At some events and practices you might get the chance to try your skill with throwing knives or axes and spears, in a safe, marshaled environment. Typically the target is a large board or stump, though sometimes there may be a custom target with a special emphasis in keeping with an event or persoanlity. If there is a planned throwing event at an event there will usually be loaner knives or axes available to try it out, and you'll be given safety tips and rules to follow before you start. It’s great fun, ask your local archery marshal!
Practical Tips for Starting with Archery
- Find a practice you can get to regularly
- Be aware that you must consider arrows as expendable items. It's a pain, but they do break or get accidentally broken by others sometimes at practices and at events.
- Don't buy a bow straight away, you might think you want a longbow but find yourself wishing you'd gone for a horsebow instead after a few practices.
- You MUST pay attention to what your archery marshal tells you, they are there for your safety!
- Read our Beginner's Guide to Archery in Insulae Draconis
- Check out some useful links and resources