Armored fighting is probably what the SCA os best known for. Valiant knights in heavy armor fight with sword and shield, polearm, mace, or any other combination of period weapons that strike their fancy. Combat usually takes the form of tournaments or melees. Tournaments are, generally speaking, one on one elimination tournaments with a single victor. It is a tournament like this that determines the succession of our king and queen twice a year. Melees generally consist of two teams, with members of each time often fighting in formation. The most dramatic example of the melee is Pennsic War where multiple melee battles are fought over two weeks, draw thousands of people, and include archers, siege equipment, and obstacles like rivers and walls.
The best way to get started in Armored Combat is to bring a cup and cup-holding undergarment of your choice to an armored combat meeting, which are held on the third Tuesday of every month at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church in Mansfield. Before you come out, let us know on the list or at an earlier meeting that you want to fight, and we'll bring out the loaner gear to get you started ASAP.
SCA Rapier combat represents the more elegant dueling styles of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is more open and brutal than collegiate or Olympic fencing, but more gentlemanly than armored combat. Most duelists strive to make their armor (worn for safety) resemble the garb of their chosen period. This gives the impression they are fighting in their "street clothes", rather than geared for war like the armored fighters. Rapier combat also takes both tournament and melee forms. Tournaments are one on one elimination rounds, while melees may be either team or free-for-all.
The best way to get started in Rapier is to come to a raper meeting, held the first Tuesday of every month at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church in Mansfield. To get your hands on a sword and drill, all you need to do is come out. If you want to actually face off against someone, you'll need to bring at least your own cup and jock. Fencing masks, gorgets and hoods are the hardest loaner gear to acquire, so getting your own should be high on your priorities for this sport.
Target archery is the most accessible, especially to individuals with prior archery experience. Target archery is much like a mundane archery competition, with foam or hay targets and a firing line. The most common format for target archery is the Royal Round, where targets are spaced at 20, 30 and 40 yards. The target of choice for the Royal Round is the 40cm FITA target, and the bullseye is 5 points, the next ring 4 points, and so on. Each archer is permitted to shoot 6 arrows at each distance with no time limit. The final round is fired at the 20 yard target, with no limit on arrows, but only 30 seconds to fire as many arrows as you can. There are no limits on draw weights, but bows can not be compound, can have no release aids, sighting mechanisms (marks on the limbs or riser are usually allowed) or mechanical arrow rests. Any opening in the bow, as in modern metal and fiberglass designs, should be covered, and a wood appearance is preferred. Arrows must be wood shafts with target or field points, and must have feather fletching.
The best way to get started in Target Archery is either to come out to an event like our annual Encampment, or to get a bow and some arrows and start shooting. The archery presence in Three Towers is growing rapidly, and we hope to have a practice space and meetings soon, but right now there are no scheduled practices and no formal loaner equipment.
Target archery's violent twin is combat archery. Combat archery is fought on the field alongside the armored fighters, and the archer must meet the same requirements for armor as the melee fighters. Combat archers can devastate the enemy when well protected, but are easy prey on the open field. It is common practice among combat archers to wear the minimum legal armor, and to surrender when an enemy fighter gets within ten feet with no friendlies in between. Combat archers all train under a knight, and commonly start by training in sword and shield. As of early 2012, Baldar blunts on fiberglass shafts have been approved in the Middle Kingdoms, bringing us up to speed with most of the rest of the Knowne World. Details on these shafts, and on other requirements, may be found at the 35-Foot Spear.
Unfortunately, Three Towers does not have a significant combat archer presence at this time. The best way to get started is to start in Armored fighting and Target archery, and pester people until a knight offers to teach you.