ANST-Announce - Archery Safety?

Bob Dewart gilli at
Tue Apr 17 16:55:26 PDT 2001

Greetings and Hi There,

By now many of have received your TIs.  You know that the members of the BOD
want to hear our thoughts on matters that come before them.  Soon a matter
will be before them that could affect how many of us play the game.  Your
thoughts on the subject are important.

Below is the letter that I sent yesterday to the BOD members, our Crown and
Highnesses and the Earl Marshal and Archery Marshal.  Please feel free to
use it for the basis of your own letter or use your own words.  If you
disagree, please write a letter also.

This is your chance to influence the future.  We may or may not like the out
come.  But at least we tried.  If you don't act now, don't grip about the
out come.


Unto You comes Greetings from the Honorable Lord Gilbert Ost Westley of the
Kingdom of Ansteorra,

In the very near future the Society Earl Marshall will make a decision that
will have far reaching importance.  That decision will be how to change
combat arrows used by Ansteorra and others so as to reduce the risk of eye
injury caused by bounce back.  However, I do not believe that is the course
of action that will be the most effective in promoting eye safety.

Current SCA rules provide for the wearing of personal eye protection.  There
are several type that may be used; safety glasses, wire mess screening or a
Lexan type material. The current rules also allow for the use of Anti Bounce
back Devices or ABDs.  Both personal eye protection and ABDs are allowed,
but not required.

At the recent Gulf War X, there were several injuries caused by the rear end
of a bolt or arrow entering the face grid of a helm in the region of the
eyes.  None of the bolts or arrows in question had ABDs nor were any of the
victims wearing any form of personal eye protection.  While it can be argued
that had those bolts or arrows had an ABD the accidents may have be avoided
or the damage reduced, had the injured person been wearing one of the above
mentioned forms of personal eye protection , the accident would NOT have
happened at all.

The question is "How safe is safer"?  With the growing popularity of combat
archery, it can be assumed that there will be more arrows on the field.
There aren't any exact figures of how many arrows and bolts where flying
around at Gulf War at any one time.  Estimates range any where from 7,000 to
10,000 arrows or bolts were shot at one point or another.  My group alone
brought over 1,000.  I don't know the exact number of combatants on the
field, 500 to 600 perhaps.   So, how safe is safer?

There are a number of ABDs that have been designed.  They will all reduce
the likelihood of  helm penetration or injury to some extent.  What is the
exceptable risk level?  A million to one chance, a billion, a trillion, zero
chance; just what level of safety is required?  Also, please consider the
fact that there have been, and can still be injuries caused by other things
that can enter the face of a helm; tree limbs and sticks on the ground, dirt
and any number of other things. The point here is that all the ABDs still
leave a risk to one's vision to be accepted and do nothing to protect
against damage done by other foreign objects. Personal eye protection will.

Is safety the point of this upcoming decision?  The archery community has
not been told what is the acceptable risk level; just the threatening, "Fix
it or I will" by the SEM.

If, Eye Safety is the issue.  Many believe that eye protection is the
answer; not modifying thousands and thousands of combat arrows and crossbow

If liability is the issue, again eye protection is the answer.  It is
already known that eye injuries occur on the field from other causes.  Not
using this opportunity to correct the whole picture could be seen as
negligent at some future point.  As would implementing a partical solution
when a total answer was at hand.  Unless, of course, we really do believe
our little blue waiver cards will save us from the court room.  If that is
the case, then current rules provide for one to protect themself if they
feel there is a danger

So, I ask you, what is the purpose of this upcoming decision?  Is it safety?
Is it litigation?  Or, as many, myself included, believe it is a bold
attempt to rid the Society of Combat Archery or at the very least deal it
such a blow that it will never again be a factor or any battle field in the
SCA.  At the Gulf War, the SEM said that the archers would bear the burden
not the heavy fighters, because he didn't want to upset the heavy fighters.
Clearly a decision not based on safety; but not wanting to hurt the feelings
of the larger group of members.

If safety is the point of the Society Earl Marshal's decision, then I
encourage you to encourage him to require all combatants to wear some form
of personal eye protection.  If it's litigation, again I encourage you to
encourage him to require the use of eye protection.  However, if it's not
for reasons of safety or litigation, then I ask you to stop his action
immediately, if you please.

Thank you for you time.

HL Gilbert Ost Westley
Bob Dewart
2402 Live Oak Drive
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
(254) 547-9705
gilli at

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