Class: Martial Activities Available in the SCA

I Can Kill You With … (Martial Activities Available in the SCA)

(Taught April 6, 2017 for the Aire Faucon Newcomer A&S Night)
(Taught October 21, 2017 for the War of the Wings newcomer track)

Activities of the SCA
The SCA has three pillars supporting it: Arts, Service, and, the most exciting, Martial activities. As a newcomer you have a lot of different options in learning combat and weaponry in the Society for Creative Anachronism.


Martial Activities

Armored Combat/Heavy Weapons Target Archery Black Powder
Light Combat / Rapier Thrown Weapons List Minister
Cut & Thrust Siege Weapons Marshal(s)
Youth Combat Equesterian (Jousting) Weaterbearing
Combat Archery Coursing First Aid / Chirugeon

Armored Combat / Heavy Weapons – Traditional knight fighting. People wear armor, fight with various rattan weapons, and self-score damage. Marshals monitor combat for safety of the participants and audience and do not decide the winner. Fighting is done in single combat, small unit (or team) style, and large maneuvers. Various tournament formats exists including single-elimination, double-elimination, bear pit, and wars.

Light Combat / Rapier – Olympic fencing taken to the streets. Participants wear fencing masks, specialized garb, fight with various fencing swords and parry objects, and self-score damage. Marshal again are safety officers. Fighting is done in single combat or small unit style. Various tournament formats exists including the Spanish Circle, the Slippery Slope, and Barroom. Oh, and since they are late period they allow single shot rubberband guns.

Cut and Thrust – The new kid on the block requires armor but uses the standard of “unarmored” for measuring the effectiveness of blows, because the weapons are real … not sharpened, but real. Everything from side swords to two-handed are brought to the field.

Youth Combat – Armored combat for participants between ages 6 and 17. Marshal do monitor the “scoring” but the participants are the final arbiters. Fighting is done in single combat or small unit style.

Combat Archery – Using specialize arrows and wearing appropriate armor, archers enter the armored combat field for large maneuver activities. Most combat archery, due to the expense of the special combat arrows, is “sniper” type.

Target Archery – Target archery can be done with crossbows, recurve, and long bows. Royal rounds are done at practices and at events and count toward the Archery Ranking system. A royal round is a shoot consisting of “six shafts each shot at 40, 30, and 20 yards, and a 30-second timed round at 20 yards”. A clout shoot occurs at Pennsic and involves getting arrows inside a “castle” at 120 yards. Themed archery competitions occur at many events. (More details can be found at

Thrown Weapons – Thrown weapons include knife, hand axe, stars, and spears. The Middle Kingdom has a royal round format for ranking.

Siege Weapons – “There are two types of siege devices: active siege engines and passive siege structures.” Active siege engines, including man-powered trebuchets, are designed to deliver small or large ammunition to range of 40 to 80 yards. Siege structures include towers and ramp and are used to support personnel, but not fitted with active weaponry. Ammunition includes “rocks”, 4-tennis ball clusters, combat archery arrows, and ballista javelins. Activity at events including participating in large combat maneuvers and target practices. (SCA siege weapon handbook is here:

Equestrian (Jousting) – Jousting is done with lances at rings ranging in size from six inches down to one inch. Other activities include spear throwing, “stabbing objects on the ground, knocking (fake) heads off posts with a sword, obstacle courses, and archery from horseback.” Pageantry is an essential element of equestrian activities and many people have full barding for their animals.

Coursing – Canine activities including rabbit chasing. This martial activity is rare in Atlantia.

Black Powder – At Pennsic and other large events, you may meet those playing very late period. They do rifle maneuvers and shoot the cannon to announce the beginning and end of battles.

List Minister – An officer position involved in registering fighters and organizing the administrative portion of competitions, especially large single-combat tourneys.

Marshal(s) – The safety officer responsible for inspecting equipment, both armor and weapons; inspecting the field; monitoring the physical and mental state of fighting participants and the observers; organizing fighter practices; training people (if local officer); organizing fighting at events (marshal in-charge, MIC); running authorizations; and turning in the waivers from fighter practices.

Waterbearing – Gentles who bring water out to participants on the fields of battle. Lifesavers!

First Aid / Chirugeon(s) – Gentles who provide first aid in the SCA. This group is a guild.


Specialized Vocabulary
Kit – The armor and weapons used for the marshal discipline of choice. Often includes the fighter authorization card and repair kit.

Authorizations – Anyone can attend fighter practices to learn how to fight. To enter tournaments, you must be an authorized fighter. An authorization includes inspecting your kit, a Q&A session on the basic rules of the SCA marshal form, and a series of one-on-one combats showing ability to hit someone, block being hit, taking a blow, and participating in a live exchange. Authorizations include the marshal doing the combat and two observing the activity.

Inspections – Review of weapons and armor for wear-and-tear and meeting the present regulations.

List – Both the list of fighters and the field upon marshal activity is being practiced.

MIC – Marshal in-Charge. The event MIC may oversee several activity MICs. Because of this, all marshals must train in general discipline knowledge as well as their specialization.

Hold – When spoken on the list, fighters are to freeze. Usually something dangerous has occurred and the marshal needs to fix the situation. Examples: Child runs onto the archery range, a tip falling off a rapier blade, a buckle busted from the last hit in heavy causing the armor to swing free.

Clear – Used to let people know active weapons are in play. Most often heard in archery with “Clear down range.”

Lay on – Let the battle begin. Most often used in single combat.


The truly dangerous group in the SCA – I can kill you with … the arts
Kitchen Crew, Herbalists, and Gardeners – The Known World Apothecary Facebook Group, the Atlantian Herbal Guild, The Sacred Stone Cook’s Guild, etc.

Other Kingdom Guilds are listed on the Kingdom A&S Minister’s Webpage.


Upcoming fighting activities the summer
April 21-23

  1. SAAD – South Atlantia Archery Day – Canton of Crois Brigte in the Barony of Sacred Stone (Booneville, NC)
  2. Queen’s Rapier Championship (Royal Progress) – Isenfir (Weyers Cave, VA)
  3. Kingdom War Practice (Cathage, NC)

April 28-30 – Costal Raids – Armored, Rapier, and Target Archery – Barony of Raven’s Cove (Richalands, NC)

May 5-7 – Spring Crown Tournament – Marinus (Clarksville, VA)

May 19-21 – Hawkwood Baronial Birthday (Royal Progress) – Armored, Rapier, Target Archery, Thrown Weapons

June 16-18 – Return to Crecy IV (Royal Progress) – Armored, Rapier, Youth, Cavalry, Combat Archery, Target Archery, Siege

August 26 – Flight of the Falcon: St. David’s Market Day and Fair – Armored and Rapier


Fighter Practices
Canton of Aire Faucon – Does not have a regular martial activity practice of any sort.

Canton of Charlesbury Crossing – Armored combat practice in Freedom Park. Rapier is also welcomed, but often does not have the marshal required to allow the practice to occur.

Barony of Hawkwood – Aire Faucon’s nearest neighbor after Charlesbury Crossing (and depending on your location within the group may be even closer), has various practices.

Barony of Sacred Stone – Archery practices happen further north in some of the other cantons and BSS has a monthly rapier practice as well.


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