Years ago, I was invited to attend Pennsic War by a friend of a friend who was a vendor. This was my first introduction to the Society. It was the equivalent of drinking from the firehose. After a week of that craziness, I was overwhelmed, but I wanted to know more. I’d always been a fan of the Renaissance Fairs, and thought that this was just an extension of that. I was pleased to find that it was… and wasn’t!
Fast forward a few years and I find myself in Texas trying to find stuff to do. We looked around for the local fairs and we found ourselves at the Sherwood Forest Faire. At the faire, they had an archery competition – like real archery with people from the crowd, not trick shots or a single professional. They also had a range where you could rent a bow and fling pointy sticks at targets. After a little time firing arrows, I decided that this was fun and I wanted to try more.
The following season we decided to try a different fair and ended up at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival where my wife (many thanks to her) convinced me to suck it up and just buy a bow. We stopped at a shop on the circuit and purchased my first bow from Kee’s Longbows. Now I just needed a place to practice and learn more about archery. I found out that there is a free weekly practice handled by a branch of the SCA in north Austin.
Since I was still relatively new in town, I didn’t know the Kingdom or Barony or anything, but I found the website then tracked down practice. I showed up with nothing but my bow and six arrows and the marshals helped me prep the bow, taught me the rules of the range, and helped me understand the true foundation of proper traditional archery.
I also learned about the Society (without the firehose). The marshals were welcoming and had no qualms about providing me insight into the Society, about how they became a part of it, and about events happening in and around the area. I was amazed and the depth and breadth of what the SCA did. Until that time I only thought that it was concentrated on large battles and costuming. I had no idea that the Society is actually about historical recreation and not just about clothes and banging people with sticks. I was introduced to the world of the Arts & Sciences, the Bardic traditions, and the sheer volume of historical research that’s done by some of our members.
I joined the SCA a year ago now and am not looking back. Since that time, I’ve become an archery marshal, taken up basic leather working and blacksmithing, and am getting into crafting my garb. The best part? If I need to find something new about the way something was done in 13th century Scotland, there’s someone here who already knows! This community is all about collecting, preserving, and extending our knowledge and I’m happy to have found it.