A unique combination of real armour and rattan weapons allow for a full speed, full contact sport which strives to recreate the feel of a real medieval tournament. This system allows combatants to strike with force in unchoreographed ‘real’ combat.
From the push of war fighting to the pageantry of the crown tournaments, the robust heavy combat of the SCA has something for almost everyone.
Since we prefer that no one gets hurt, SCA combatants wear real armour and use rattan swords. Rattan, which looks like bamboo but has a solid core, is springy enough to absorb some of the force of the blow without snapping, and light enough to approximate the weight of a steel sword.
Novice fighters are trained by the more experienced fighters. They are taught how to use their weapons, how to defend themselves, and how to judge blows received in combat. Every fighter on the field is bound by their honour to accept a blow sufficient to “wound” or “kill”.
Archery within the SCA falls into two broad categories, which within the Barony are both under the view of the Archery Marshall.
Target Archery is typically participated in with longbows or recurve bows, shooting at stationary targets from a series of standardised ranges. This form of archery has a lower barrier to entry than most of the arts martial but can be extremely rewarding.
Combat Archery mixes armoured fighters, typically those armed with ‘heavy’ weapons such as swords and shields, with armoured archers armed with bows and arrows or with ranged weapons. This type of archery usually occurs within the confines of war scenarios.
Another type of SCA combat is fencing, also known as rapier combat. Participants use real blades and for protection, they wear regulation fencing masks, padded torso protection, and shirts and pants made from heavy fabric to protect their limbs. Unlike modern fencing, SCA fencing is done “in-the-round”, and combatants can fight in close with their opponents. Blows are acknowledged by the recipient (as in armoured combat), not by a set of judges. Fencers can face each other one-on-one in tournaments, or in large melee battles with dozens or even hundreds on a side.
While the barony does have some equipment available for loan by new members, everyone is responsible for obtaining their own armor and weapons. The Kingdom of Lochac Combat Handbook has specifics on armoring standards, and there are regularly armoring days within the barony.
As with any sport, there are rules and regulations which govern the standards of SCA combat. Training is essential for the safety of all participants, and their marshal must be satisfied with the safety, responsibility and competency of participants before they can be authorised to fight in tournaments or wars.