[Coastal] Loch Sollier Chivalric Fighter Practice

Galen Bevel galenbv at ix.netcom.com
Fri Jul 25 07:44:36 PDT 2008

We need to think very basically about what fighter practice is intended 
to be, what we want it to be, and whether it can really fulfill that 
function.  Then we need to be unafraid to change things in 
unconventional ways to meet those needs.  What follows is a lot of 
questions with few answers.  The answers we will need to find together.

The bottom line issue we seem to be trying to address is lack of new 
members.   I am not sure that fighter practice is the tool to do this. 
 From what I have seen historically in this geographic area, fighter 
practice has never been a good first pass recruiting tool.   It has 
never generated a reliable stream of new recruits whose first exposure 
to the SCA was happening upon us in the park.   That does happen, but 
not at a great level, even when we have had large visible regular 
practices.   Instead its best use has been as a reinforcement tool after 
we have already attracted someone at another venue, such as a demo or by 
word of mouth.  It gives that person just coming to the SCA a place to 
go to get more exposure and meet those involved after having found us 
elsewhere.  If we accept that, then the venue isn't that important from 
the aspect of attracting new recruits.  We will find them elsewhere, and 
direct them to wherever and whenever we hold the practice.  But, that 
does require that we do some investment in that "elsewhere".

So, if recruiting is not the driving force behind the location, what 
should be?  Call me biased, but my thought is that the main purpose of a 
fighter practice is contained in its name; a place to practice 
fighting.  Ancillary activities are great and always welcome, but if 
necessary can be held at populace meetings, guild meetings, dance 
practices etc just as easily.   Fighter practice is the place we have to 
go to practice fighting, just as dance practice should be where we go to 
practice dancing.   If we hold a practice at a time and place that the 
current fighters cannot or will not attend, then we are self defeating.  
If someone who might have been interested comes across a virtually empty 
spot in a park, there is no way for him or her to know that an 
interesting activity was /supposed/ to be taking place there.

So, if support and training of current fighters is the main purpose of 
fighter practice, is that happening in our current venue? From what I 
have seen and been told, no.  If not, will changing locations or time 
make a difference? Maybe.  Basically, it sounds like we would end up 
with the same number of people at practice, just in a different place; 
maybe with less driving, maybe with some attending a different 
practice.  The question is, if we split the Stargate and Loch practices 
what practice will the few trainers (knights, experienced squires, etc) 
attend?   How many of those attend the practices regularly as it is set 
up now?

How many fighter practices, public and private, are there in our area?  
Enough, too many?  The question we need to ask ourselves is if the very 
structure of fighter practice as we have it now is really serving us the 
way we want.  Does every group need to have a set, weekly fighter 
practice? Are there other ways to do that?   Maybe instead of set weekly 
practices at a certain time, we need to look to addressing specific 
needs with specific events.  I believe this is what Othar, sorry, 
Arthur, is trying to do with the Stargate practice and the mini 
tourneys.  There are tons of ideas, from recruitment tourneys to 
mentorship programs, to training "events" (meaning an activity, as 
opposed to an SCA "Event").   There are too many to detail here.  

My main point is that I don't think that doing "fighter practice" in the 
traditional manner has served us well over the last few years.  Maybe 
its time we taught an old dog some new tricks.  And yes, I know I have 
not been around a lot in the last few years, but that does not mean I 
have not been watching or that I am not willing to put my money where my 
mouth is, so to speak.   I will be talking to Wissa about a few of those 

Gaelyn Kirchenbauer

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