Getting Started in Archery & Missile Weapons

What do you want to do?

Target archery is all about shooting live arrows (using field points) at various targets on a range or other controlled environment. This can range from shooting standard “bulls-eye” archery targets on a straight range to elaborate themed shoots using 3d targets.

To get started in SCA target archery, you just need a willingness to learn (and, if you’re under 18, your parent’s permission). You don’t need your own equipment and you don’t need to know how to shoot – local groups often maintain loaner gear for new shooters, and archery marshals will be more than happy to help you get started shooting.

The easiest way to get going is to head down to the archery range at an SCA event or get in touch with your local group to see when they hold archery practice. Once you’re at the range, ask for the marshal in charge and they’ll be able to help you get shooting.

If you own your own equipment, there’s a good chance you can shoot it in the SCA if it’s considered “traditional” archery gear. The SCA doesn’t allow compound bows or compound crossbows of any kind, but traditional-style longbows, recurves, horsebows, and certain types of crossbows are all fine. Although wooden arrows are required to shoot in SCA competitions, most practices will let you use fiberglass or carbon arrows until you can get some wooden ones of your own.

If you want to learn more about the types of bows that you will encounter in the SCA, the equipment section of this website has more information.

Because of the dangerous nature of target archery weapons, there are certain safety precautions that have to be followed and we can’t shoot wherever we want. The marshal running the range will want to inspect any equipment you bring as well as explain the basic safety rules of the range. If you haven’t shot before, the marshal will likely want to work with you specifically for a little bit until you’re comfortable on the range.

There are no authorization requirements for shooting target archery in the SCA, and everyone from small children to the elderly is welcome to come to the range. As long as you can safely participate under marshal supervision, you are welcome on our ranges!

Does the idea of shooting at static targets bore you? Are you in the mood for something a bit more energetic? Would you like to run around in full armor and shoot things at armored soldiers?

If you answered “yes” or “I dunno, maybe” to any of these questions, you might just want to give combat archery a try!

Unlike target archery, combat archery is conducted on a fighting field against live opponents. Combat archers use bows that meet specific safety requirements and fire special ammunition fitted with padding and designed to be safely fired at armored participants.

Because combat archers are full contact fighters, they are required to wear the same basic armor that our heavy fighters do. They are also required to undergo an authorization process in order to be allowed to take the field.

If you’ve never done any archery before, the best place to start would be to go to the archery range at an SCA event or contact your local group about their archery practices. Many target archers are also combat archers, or at least know where to direct you to begin getting authorized.

You will need some additional equipment beyond a combat-legal bow and ammunition in order to do combat archery – all of this is listed on the equipment page of this website.

If you have archery experience, you will need to find someone who can help you get authorized in combat archery. How long this takes depends on your familiarity with archery, combat archery, and SCA armored combat. You can review the authorization process on this website for more information.

Sometimes all you’ve got is your own two hands and whatever happens to be nearby – and that’s where thrown weapons come in! In Ansteorra we practice thrown weapons with a variety of edged throwing weapons including axes, knives, spears, and javelins.

If you’re interested in throwing weapons, all you need to do is check out the throwing weapons range at an event (it’ll be the place with the knives, axes, and spears!) or contact your local group to see if they have a thrown weapons practice. While thrown weapons are less common in Ansteorra than target archery, there are plenty of groups around holding practices and running ranges at events.

There is no requirement that you authorize in order to throw, and most thrown weapons ranges will provide all the equipment you need. All you need is a willingness to learn and a hand or two. The marshal in charge of the throwing weapons range will be able to explain the safety rules to you and show you how to get started.

If the idea of ballistas, trebuchets, and catapults fill you with glee, you’ll be happy to know that the Kingdom of Ansteorra is home to many fine siege engineers, and they would be happy to teach you their deadly craft!

Like combat archery, siege weaponry is part of the full-contact armored combat umbrella and requires specific equipment requirements, armor, and an authorization in order to participate. Siege engineers are full-contact fighters and their weapons are designed to be safely fired at armored fighters.

Because of the relative expense and difficulty in building, transporting, and fielding siege equipment, you may have to do a little bit of homework to get on the field as a siege engineer. If you talk to your local combat archers or armored fighters, they may be able to help you find someone who is involved in siege weaponry. You can also check the authorizing marshal list for someone qualified in siege weapons who might be able to help you get started.

There are a few events that tend to have siege weaponry available in one form or another, and sometimes have classes to help prospective siege engineers get authorized. Check out the major event list – events that often have siege weapons will be noted accordingly.