[Bordermarch] King's College

Lathrop, Dave Dave.Lathrop at valero.com
Tue Jun 12 10:46:19 PDT 2007

King's College, 2007




So much to choose from and so little time, we've all heard that before,
but that's what took place at King's College, June 9th, 2007.

There was so much to choose from it became difficult to decide what
classes I should take. I settled on some archery classes and "The
Complete Siege Engineer" class.

HE Elisabeth decided to answer a call for help and sat gate during the
morning hours, but she did join Sir Simonn and me during the siege
engineering class.

Miguel Trebuchet was our instructor and his enthusiasm for siege warfare
is indeed infectious. We had the opportunity to assemble and fire a
trebuchet and a ballista.

Safety was Miguel's primary concern because of the inherent danger that
surrounds such powerful weapons of destruction.

An SCA legal Ballista will propel a four foot long, foam tipped bolt of
death 80 yards with ease. When HE Elisabeth realized the potential
destructive power one of these weapons possessed her eyes glazed over.
She was one of the first to volunteer to be the trigger man for the
two-man crew required by SCA regulations to operate a "Class B" siege
engine. I'm sure she was visualizing me in my hammock, swinging gently
in the breeze as she squeezed the trigger. Now she could finally "reach
out and touch someone". She and some of our other fine ladies in the
group have started rumbling about forming "The Ballista Babes", an all
female Bordermarch siege engine team. 

They think, and quite rightly so, that their incomparable beauty will
paralyze the enemy, thus rendering the hapless fools incapable of
avoiding the "Kiss of Death" as it hurtles towards their helms. Man Law
# 268 reads "A woman scorned is dreadful, but a woman decked out in full
armor with her finger on the trigger of a ballista shall be avoided,
whatever the cost".

The archery classes consisted of making your own arrows from scratch and
learning how to make a "self bow". A "self bow" is an all wood bow
usually made from one piece of wood. The traditional English war bows
were "self bows" preferably made from yew trees. 

Robin of Bjornsborge was our instructor and he had with him several bows
he had made himself. One of his bows was a replica English war bow. He
said he was trying to prove to some skeptics that the period English war
bows were capable of casting arrows that would pierce the armor worn by
medieval fighters. SCA archery rules state that the maximum draw weight
a bow shall have is 30#. Robin's replica war bow had a draw weight of
120#. He offered it to the class and challenged us to draw it to it's
full potential. I watched as some of the skinny guys tried and failed to
draw the bow more than a few inches past its resting state. With my
chest puffed out like some farmyard rooster just before it crows I said,
"give it here, I'll show you how it's done".

I grabbed the war bow with all the confidence in the world. I knew it
couldn't be that hard to pull that string back to my ear. Slowly the bow
was raised into position, I wanted to make sure everyone saw me in my
resplendent glory as I executed what everyone present thought was the
impossible. With my arm fully extended holding the bow out to the proper
distance I began the task of pulling that simple, single scrawny string
back to my ear. Success was mine for about three inches, and then the
string stopped moving. As I strained with all my strength to pull the
string something popped in my arm, my neck, my legs and every other
muscle in my body. I failed miserably. I handed to bow back to Robin and
was then informed that the English archer of the medieval period trained
his whole life to be able to use the war bow for hours on end. He said
most people could learn to pull the bow to full draw but it would still
take a lot of time before one could consistently hit anything with
accuracy. He proceeded to split an elm log to demonstrate how the war
bow was made. Once again he offered the sledge to any who wanted to try
their hand at splitting.

I thought about puffing out my chest again and grabbing that sledge
hammer to show them all how it was done but my chest hurt way too much.






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