Welcome to the World of SCA Heavy Combat
I remember a time so many years ago where my friends and I would arm ourselves with sticks that we imagined as shining swords and do mighty battles in our back yards. Many an evil foe or mighty dragon were slain as we imaged ourselves as fierce Vikings or mighty Knights! Never dreaming that one day I’d find a place out of time called the SCA. A place where I’d actually don armor and weapons and charge across the field to do fierce combat and slay many foes in glorious combat! And though my sword isn’t made of shiny metal, the passion and desire to experience those moments made it real. Here was a chance to relive a portion of the Middle Ages, to be part of history. If these words spark that kind of feeling in your heart, I invite you to join us in doing rattan heavy combat.
Let me fight!
I think I can do this, I mean, it sure looks like fun…but wow, it sure looks hard and I don’t even know how to get started! Don’t be dismayed, we have armor that has been donated by the people you see here to let you experience heavy combat, to give you the chance to see if this is the thing for you. As for our swords, we use a solid form of bamboo called rattan which let us experience actual contact combat safely. To help train you, regular practices are scheduled to help you learn to fight with any of the 5 forms available. These are: single handed weapon ( sword, mace, axe) and shield, spear, polearm, great sword and two weapon ( where fighters have a weapon in each hand).
Hey, I like this!
So what do I need to get started? Your first piece of armor that you’ll need is a hard cup, available at almost every store that has a sports section. But even though there is armor for you to use at practice, it’s hot, heavy, and hard to move in. And it doesn’t fit right. At this point, you need to make or purchase armor and weapons that will be your own and will fit you. For those who are handy with tools, there are patterns available. Helms are much harder to make, and are usually purchased from an armorer. We also hold armor workshops when needed to assist you to make your own equipment. Figure on spending a minimum of $150-200 dollars to get started, your armor won’t be the prettiest, but the gear will be yours! Work on having your armor and weapons completed by the time you authorize.
What do I want to look like?
Close your eyes…hear the ring of sword on sword, spear points flashing in the sun, shields clashing together as fighters struggle to overcome each other. Now picture in your mind what that hero you saw was wearing…that’s a good start for the time period you should base your fighting persona on. Celtic…Roman….Norman… Norse…Anglo-Saxon… These are only some of the most popular choices, and therefore the easiest accessible.
What do I need for Armor and Weapons?
At the least: Helm, gorget (neck protection), elbows, wrist and hands, knees, groin (course, you already have that don’t you? ), sternum and kidneys. Actually, figure on covering everything to start. Once you’ve gained some experience and confidence you can decide to lighten up or remove armor pieces that aren’t required. Rattan for weapons can be purchased at many “events” from the armor merchants.
Can I make it myself?
If you’re handy with tools or your hands, you could make everything yourself. Materials you can use are metal, heavy leather and plastic, thick padding or carpet. The helm would be the hardest to make, so most fighters buy one. Prices range from $100 to $1000 or more. Patterns are available for most of everything else. You can make parts and buy pieces (like elbow and knees) to incorporate. Weapons are usually all made by the fighters themselves. A lot of mundane equipment gets used, such as knee or elbow pads and hockey gloves. The Leather Factory in Harrisburg carries a great selection of leather for straps and armor pieces, buckles and rivets. Heavy plastic drums are a source of plastic. Metal can be purchased from some machine shops or scrap yards. Its best to ask your Knights Marshal ( person who runs the practice) before spending funds to avoid wasting money on the wrong material.
Here’s a video on how to make a spear tip:
Where do I buy it?
While there are many armorers online, not all have the right armor required for SCA combat. Many items can be purchased on Ebay, but check with your local Knight’s Marshal to verify that it’s right for use in the SCA. Your fellow fighters are a good source of information on what armors provide quality pieces for you to buy.
What are the rules?
The rules of the list contain information on what’s required of all individuals to safely participate in heavy combat and the requirements for armor and weapons. Here’s the link for the Society Marshal’s Handbook: SCA Marshall’s Handbook July 2020