[Ansteorra-archery] Is there a rift?

Mike Catron meggiddo at netzero.net
Mon Apr 22 10:23:30 PDT 2002


There is a rift between the heavy fighters and those who are "true"
combat archers and those who only make a appearance once in awhile on
the battlefield as archers.

To those who would hide one's head in the sand and claim that there is
no rifts what so ever, is proof of just out of touch they are with the
fighting community as a whole!

This is my attempt to answer the question raised - it is blunt, to the
point and with no apologies given to anyone!

If you do not like it - too bad! You will get over it!

I am a combat archer. I do not participate in either the IKAC or IKCAC
or the Royal Round. I look at perfecting the arts of War, which in my
case is combat archery.

Perfecting the Arts of War is required by the Fray (Kingdom Level
Warband - the FRAY IS NOT A HOUSEHOLD!). It is in the Fray charter, with
the only other requirement - Perfecting the Arts of Revelry! In other
words, you must fight to be a member of the Fray and like to party!

The only true training ground for an individual to become a combat
archer is either practicing with heavy fighters or out on the
battlefield. There is no where else, that truly lends itself to such

It took me also two years to be accepted seriously as a fighter
whose prefer weapon of choice is the bow. Notice the phasing that I am
using - this is a mind set and has stood the test of time since I became
a combat archer.

Along the way there was and continue to be numerous statements from
various fighters concerning:

how ineffective combat archery was in period;
how ineffective combat archery still is on the current SCA battlefield;
how plate is proof against arrows;
"Touch Kill for Archers";
White Diamonds;
Elitist Attitude of archers;
the stand-off attitude of the majority of the archers;
the inability of most archers to recognize how negative statements are
made by fighters and how to respond back to them;
and the lack of backbone by the majority of the archers who take the
field as combat archers for more than a couple of battles a year.

Interesting statements, is not it? If I have to chose three of the main
reasons for the rift, it would be White Diamonds, "Touch Kill for
Archers" and elitist attitude, this attitude that archers are at the
same level as knights!

When I first joined the SCA world of combat, I was asked a very serious
question. And that question was, "Do you want to be a heavy contact
archer or a White Diamond?" I asked, what the difference was and it was
explained to me. I chose to become a heavy contact archer. To square off
with an opponent, knowing full well that I had the same two choices as
that fighter - receive a "killing blow" or yield. Thus, being able to
face a heavy fighter at least on equal terms of how we are both removed
from the battlefield! Although I could have very easily become a White
Diamond archer for physical reasons.

It is true that archery has received a grant level award, thus raising
archers who received it to the same level as a Centurion or a Don. The
Centurion and/or Don are also grant level awards, are they not? Yet it
does not equal to the same level as that of a knight! This is the
attitude that I have seen and so have a number of fighters that have
express something about this attitude from some of the archers.

Recent developments for combat archery has seen "Touch Kill for
Archers", this has only accomplish to widen and increase the rift
between heavy fighters and combat archers. How you might ask?

A White Diamond did not truly face off as an equal to any fighter on the
battle field. White Diamonds do not face the same two choices that a
heavy fighter and/or heavy contact archer does in how they are removed
from the battlefield. To put it bluntly, White Diamonds have caused the
most to separate the heavy fighters from the combat archers!

Does this sound too harsh? Then read on!

White Diamonds or for that fact any archer - including myself - can deal
to each opponent that come within their weapon's reach a "death blow".
The range of the weapon is that of "a 30 ft spear". And with "Touch Kill
for Archers" in effect, archers do not truly face the same in return!

The "death blow" that I can inflict may very well raise a bruise, but my
opponent(s) cannot have the same opportunity to inflict such a "blow"
upon me. This is the major issue among the various fighters that I know,
talk with, and more importantly, respect!

I must ask where is the equality in this restriction, between me, a
combat archer and the fighter who welds a sword and board, or a
spearman, or pole, etc.? In my humble opinion, there is no equality
in this type of restriction.

Oh, I have the reason(s) given for taking these steps (White Diamonds
and then Touch kill for Archers), but it has only widen the distance
between fighter and archer.

The issue of White Diamonds was to allow a greater number of people who
for a various reasons could not to come out and play before. This
argument ignores some of the heavy fighters that are active today. There
are a number of heavy fighters that require some form of assistance to
take and leave the battlefield or the tourney fields! These individuals
do not seek special rules or restrictions to allow them to come out and

This begs the question "WHY ARE THERE SPECIAL RULES" for archers or
siege engineers? Or why are there White Diamonds?

The Touch Kill was put in place at Gulf War X for consistency sake. It
took away the problem of fighters having to try to recognize whether an
archer is a White Diamond or a full contact Archer. Touch Kill means
just that Touch, not a light Blow. Before this was made the standard for
Gulf War a White Diamond archer stood a greater chance of getting hit by
accident. It also gives the White Diamond a better chance of escaping
because he is not automatically dead if someone was within 10 ft of him.

The issue of the 10 foot area kill zone for a White Diamond - well that
path was determine by the White Diamond themselves. If they do not like
it, then it is simple. Stop being a White Diamond. Learn from those
heavy fighters that require some of assistance to take the field.
Otherwise, learn to live with being a White Diamond with all the special
requirements and restrictions. Plus, the negative feelings and comments
that it generates among the fighters! In other words, stop your whining!

If a heavy fighter can see a small piece of color tape on the helm and
be able to tell friend from foe by that in the heat of the battle, then
they should be able to see huge pieces tape in the shape of a white
diamond. Perhaps, instead of white tape, just paint it on instead! If
the fighter(s) can not, and hit the White Diamond - removed the
fighter(s) from the field!

The flip side of the coin, if an individual is a white diamond and is
too close to the shieldwall when it breaks, then that individual is
almost asking to be hit! Usually it will happen. Whose fault is this?

Or that a fighter who does hit a white diamond in the open, I firmly
believe that they should be pulled from the battle(s) for the rest of
the day at the very least! How often does this happen? This has been
re-told to me over time.

Then there is the issue of White Diamonds who are "killed" by a fighter
who got within the 10 foot limit, who started to walk off the field as a
dead archer, only to walk roughly 20 feet away and start shooting again.
This type of activity does not help combat archers. That white diamond
should be pulled from the field, for the rest of the day! And this is
one of the stories that I keep hearing from various fighters.

This is where working with heavy fighters during their practice comes in
at. The present of archers at fighter practice would ease some of the
tension and go a long way to mending the rifts that are there today.

I used to ask archers who wish to become combat archers, have you gone
to your local fighter's practice? I finally gave up asking!

I have received various answers to the above question -
Ranging from:
that the archer(s) would not be welcome;
Even if an archer(s) does show up, they would be run off!;
Or the two worse answers -
the archer(s) have not time, they must go and shoot target archery!;
that the fighter(s) would treat them as baby seals during practice.

I have found that this is a load of BullSh$t!

Archer(s) if you are truly serious about combat archery, then forego
that day's target archery practice and instead go meet and perhaps
practice with the fighters. I have gone to various parks with my
bow and met the fighters, even worked with them when they were doing
melee practices inside that park! Though that same park did not allow
combat archery or so said some in charge!

How you might ask, did I accomplish this? Simple, I did not string the
bow, just walk through the command drills. I left the bow string in my
truck, which was locked, so that there was no way the bow could be
strung and drawn! This straight forward approach accomplished a number
of things:

1. I met the fighters
2. The fighters met me
3. Become accustom to wearing and moving in armor
4. Fighters saw a archer who is serious about working them
5. I learn the various commands that the shieldwall use in combat
6. Carrying of the bow and quiver accomplish four things:
6a. I learn the best position to be in a shieldwall
6b. Allow me to practice drawing a combat arrow from the quiver while on
the move. Then actual drop the arrow and then draw another one and so on
during the movement drills.
6c. Allow the judging of distance as the shieldwall moved
6d. Got a feel on how the fighters were moving as a group.

I practice in a city park and finally had to get approval from that
city. It was not done due to ANY action on the city, but some very
narrow minded individuals who do not really support interaction between
fighters and archers. In other words, there was politics at work!

I went and got approval from the city. That city is Carrollton. When I
first asked about combat archery, the first question that came back -
"Why are you asking, are you not capable of doing this activity yourself
without regulation?" Interesting question is not? You know what, it was
rather simple to get. No special permits or equipment required, just my
own judgment on how and when I practice! If someone wants to know the
steps, just ask and I will post them.

The result, I am the sole combat archer there, the rest in the local
area prefers to go shoot target. And I have posted this information
before - it is in the archives!

Nor I am not stating for anyone/everyone to walk away from target
archery if you enjoy target archery, then go do it.

What I am saying is to make at least one practice a month with your
local fighters! Be sure to notified the local fighters ahead of time
that there will be combat archers showing for that practice. In other
words, do your homework.

The earlier statement that I made concerning the lack of "backbone" is
due to the comments I heard back from various "combat archers" about
negative comments from fighters. Usually these complains come from the
archer(s) when they are safety away from the fighters and amongst a safe
environment for that archer(s).

If you as a combat archer and refuse to ID yourself and speak up when
these comments are made, then what else can you expect? A reduction in
the number of negative comments because you were too timid to speak up,
get a grip and some backbone!

I have come to realize over time that the best way to deal with various
comments is listen first to how, when, and where the individual makes
those comments. I will usually speak up and engage that individual or
individuals in open discussion.

The majority of the time - these individuals welcome open and honest
discussion. In fact, they will often ask questions and bring out some
false information that they have been told about combat archers.

Yes, to stand in the middle of a group of heavy fighters all by yourself
and ID oneself as a combat archer does take abit of courage. Yet, I
have found if one does so, then there is a certain respect coming back
from those fighters. And they would more than likely will listen.

The key is recognize how the comment(s) is being made and where.
Remember this is a open discussion! Then proceed, you will have to use
your own experience and knowledge. It has paid off for me over time in
dealing with most fighters, not all, but most!

The commanders do want archers on the battlefield - yet there is a mixed
message. It is a love/hate thing. On one hand, if there are archers,
then that side loves their archers, while the other side will hate those
same archers. And this will generate comments! The feelings and the
comments are very period!

There is no real effort to aid in training combat archers across this
kingdom as a whole to support shield walls/units. It is left entirely up
to individual archers and in some cases, even discourage by knights,
nobility, marshals, and other archers in some cases.

The only purpose for a central command structure is administration
tasks, the passing on the correct set of goals to accomplish for that
war event and/or battle scenarios. After that, leave it up to the
command of the various units who have archers and the archers themselves
to execute those goals.

Nor I am supporting a central command structure on the battlefield, for
it will not work. There are several excellent reasons for it not
working -

the battlefield is dynamic in nature, nothing remains the same for
Murphy is at work here;

there is no true means of communicating on the field during a battle -
unless you wish to equipped everyone with a radio, which is not period
at all;

the SCA combat arrow, even before the APD flew very slow compare to a
"live steel" arrow in period, thus fighters could dodge or block it;

and the SCA APD combat arrows do not strike fear nor terror nor cause
confusion in the opposing ranks! Anyone who thinks otherwise is a
complete fool!

I have heard some archers and siege engineers speak on the penetration
power of their shafts - these individuals need to wake up and look
at their own equipment!

Even in the Fray, I had to come up with my own training methods at
first. There just did not seem to be anything out there to assist
someone who wish to learn combat archery and support a shield unit. Most
commanders (makes no difference whether they are the knights,
centurions, archery marshals, etc...) do not understand the best way to
use a combat archer on the various scenarios that are offered at a melee
or war event.

I will now ask a question of the commanders? How many of you have pick
up a bow and gone out onto a battlefield as a combat archer? Without
your white belt (if you are a knight)? Without any back-up weapon(s)?
Just the bow, a quiver full of APD combat arrows, and your wits?

I know that there are a few here in this kingdom who have do so, yet how

By the way, how many of the commanders really understand the difference
between a recurve, a long bow, and a crossbow on the battlefield?

Combat archery requires a different mind set to survive on the
battlefield and be ability to at least hold your own with just that bow!
And to hold your own in my book is not how many "knights" you shoot at
or supposedly killed, but how well you as an archer tied up X amount of
forces to deal with you! I have tied up to 8 fighters and/or archers to
run me down and kill me or shoot me!

Thus, I accomplish the main goal - which was diverting those forces away
from the shieldwall. And here is the major point - it makes no
difference to me whether I actual get a "kill" or not! I do enjoy
getting "kills" and will always look for "kills", but not where it
jeopardizes the main goal of the unit that I am supporting.

The bottom line is, how many of the opposing force was force to deal
with me as an archer before they could truly engage the shieldwall. This
is and should be the goal of every combat archer in the kingdom! And not
how many "kills" one gets or the number of "belts" or "hats" or whatever
is being used to keep score!

Yes, I have been used as bait, including making that decision to be bait
on my own. It was the best method that I had at hand to assist the
shieldwall that I was supporting in reaching their main goal.

Being used as bait is SOP or it should be SOP and taken into account by
all archers who wish to step out on the battlefield. There will come a
time when it is the best method of achieving the main goal.

But the commander(s) have best speak with the archer(s) if this is how
they see using their archers! And this is one archer who will tell them
just what they can do with their plan if they do not speak about it.

One thing that a commander can and should do is ensure that if they have
any combat archer(s) within their unit(s), is support them!

Sounds simple, but it is not. There are many things that are required
for a unit to be successful on the battlefield. Thus, many times a
combat archer will get over looked. This does not mean for the combat
archer to remain silent - go and talk with the commander of the unit!

Commanders should request time at various events for War practice, which
includes combat archery. Or better yet, make the time for War practice
with combat archery. This also means that those archers who wish to
practice as combat archers will need to walk away from the target
archery field to accomplish this.

If they are held up as bad examples by the rest of the archery community
for walking away to practice with the fighters! I have only thing to say
to that - so what!  Come join me and have fun doing combat archery!

It does require both sides to come together (fighters and archers) to
reach this goal. In other words, I have seen too many times when a War
practice was scheduled, the archery community was notified (the archery
marshals, head of households, whatever, etc...), to which they agree to
have their archers there at the War practice, ready to go!

There has been two results - some archers show up. A few who could
follow instructions. Yet most were completely lost in how to work with a
unit of fighters and could/would not follow instructions from the unit
commander(s)! Some of these felt that the archer(s) should be in charge
of the unit, despite no previous experience with that unit! Interesting
thought process some archers have concerning combat and command,
especially when the only time anyone outside of the local archery
community see these individuals is at a War event! Then they are the
experts on combat scenarios!

The second result - none, one or two archers showed up. The rest were
too busy shooting at static paper targets! This lack of interest by the
archery community to support a War Practice has been noted! Another
rift, with this one being a extreme large and negative one at that!

And when the archery marshal and/or head of household was asked what
happen. The answer was that that the target practice was just too
intense and exciting!

The result has been a lack of faith in the majority of the archers and
their word! Or perhaps in the individuals who were notified about the
War Practice and their word! You, the reader draw your own conclusions
on this matter!!

It has taken me several years of actual battle experience to develop a
number of drills to support a shieldwall unit. A major item is to have a
commander(s) who will actual schedule practice time for interaction
between the fighters and the archers! Plus, have a archer who come out
and work with the unit regularly.

The archer(s), who are serious, need to locate a unit who will include
them in their activities. Contact that unit ahead of time and show up to
actual practice with your armor or what you do have and practice. Even
if you can not actual practice combat archery, get into your armor and
join the fighters during melee practice for their walk through commands.

This also means that the fighters need to be receptive to archer(s)
coming to their practices, with the desire to practice with them. And
become part of their unit. There need to be open dialogue going on
between the two groups.

Which means archer(s), you need to come forward and speak up. Remember
the "stand-off" attitude" I mention earlier. I seen archers show up at
fighter practice and never made an attempt to find out how they could
practice with the fighters. While the fighters where in full armor,
except their helms and walking through command drills as a unit. This
would have been the perfect time for the archers to join the fighters.
Yet these archers just sit there under a shade tree, drink water,
discuss target archery, etc... Even after I joined the fighters walking
through their command drills and was the sole combat archer on the
field. This was noted by the fighters at that practice!

And if anyone thinks that an archer showing up for fighter practice is a
waste of time. Better think again - there is a wealth of information
just sitting there waiting to be mined. Archers will be facing most
fighters that carry shields - this is obvious, right - question. What is
the best means of defeating those shields?

If you, the archer have no idea how those shields are being carried and
used. Then where and how will you "kill" that fighter?

Find out when the local fighters are practicing and make arrangements to
be there once a month. In other words, locate and state that you are a
combat archer would like to practice with the local unit/fighters during
melee practice. The archery community has a calendar of events,
just like any other group in the SCA - make some choices! Make this part
of regular schedule archery practice and been there.

And you the archer, who prefers to show up only for widely popular War
events, you have NO reason to complain! Since you could NOT be bother to
come out and work with the fighters in your local area!

To win at war, then all must become involve long before stepping foot
upon the battlefield that day as a unit.

Michael of the Fray
Combat Archer for the Fray

GuyLestran at aol.com wrote:
> Greetings to the List from Sir Guy,
> I was talking with his highness the other day about a rift I perceive between
> the combat archers and the other heavy fighters.
> I could be wrong but I get the feeling as a whole that you all feel
> unappreciated as a whole.  Is this a wrong perception on my part?
> If it is no big deal, if it isn't, what are some of the things that you think
> we need to push as commanders to try and fix it.
> I can tell you that at least down to the Regional Commander level (that means
> Kein as THE General, and Drake and Alexis as well as myself) support and want
> more archer on he field with the rest of the army.  I think we need more,
> many more archers.  We made a lot of good leaps this year and I'd like to
> keep that going and build on it both in numbers and experience.
> So what do you guys think?  I'd like to know.
> Yours in Service.
> Sir Guy
> _______________________________________________
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> Ansteorra-archery at ansteorra.org
> http://www.ansteorra.org/mailman/listinfo/ansteorra-archery

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