I’ve just started following this guy on blogspot
He placed in the 1v1’s this year at Battle of the Nations, so he is easily someone I can look to for inspiration, especially since there will be a Women’s 1v1 tourney at Battle of the Nations next year now! :-)
- 10 months ago
I’m on my way back to Charles de Gaulle airport, I feel pretty tired right now. We managed to get to the train station in Aigues Mortes barely in time. We were promised a shuttle bus to the station at 11:30 am to catch our train departing at 12:01. We waited till 11:35 before starting to panic. At 11:50 a bus turned up, the bus driver had two English phrases “no problem” and “good evening”. Despite this we managed to convince him to take us to the train station NOW! He told us it was no problem. I blew him some kisses when we arrived on time and he smiled and said “No problem, good evening.”
We met some of the American team at the platform and we managed to get in their way again, they must be so sick of us by now, every time they are at a train station there are bloody Kiwis running around like headless chooks ferrying excess luggage at the last minute.
We all thought we were on the same train from Nimes to Paris, but two of us were on a much earlier train leaving almost the same time as our train from Aigues Mortes arrived, once again, running in armour was a good way to prepare for running with luggage, we managed to run all of their stuff to the platform and we threw them on the train with their bags through the nearest open door, but 1 minute later the conductor threw them all out again, we’d rushed for nothing and they had gotten on the wrong train. They got picked up 5 mins later though, so at least they were where they needed to be and on time.
Yesterday was the last day of the tournament, and I and the other female fighter in my group got to enjoy a round in the bohurts. This was pretty exciting! Someone (I have no idea who) came around in the morning and talked to the other female fighter in my group and said women were welcome to jump in on the all on all after the awards ceremony. So we jumped into borrowed armour as soon as we could and waddled over to the bohurts.
There was a bit of a drama trying to get gauntlets to fit me over my sleeves, so I missed out on one of my possible fights as two people helped me wrestle a pair of very large gauntlets. I walked on to the field practically wetting myself, and the other lady said “Whatever you do stay behind the main line and don’t let them see you’re a woman”, 5 seconds later someone greeted her and thought she was her husband (she was wearing his armour) and asked her to come hold the left flank in the front row with three others. So I followed and the battle began. A halberdier from the other line came over and started laying into us, I tried to get a few hits in with my sword from behind the shields, but couldn’t get much reach, then I got grabbed by a German and put a new dent in his helmet as he wrestled me to the ground. I lay on the ground for a bit staring up into the inside of my faceplate trying to decide if the battle was over yet, then ungracefully regained my feet.
We had been told that that was the last all on all round, then we ran into a third kiwi chick who had just got armoured up and had only just made it to the bohurts. So the three of us all wandered down to the training arena and all had a one on one with each other. One of the knight marshalls was there watching, and he seemed fairly impressed with us, or at least he was fairly happy. This is a good sign for having a womens league allowed next year. I have heard it will be allowed, and that there will be a womens 1 v1 tournament put on as sort of a show event. I better get back into training, there are some amazing female fighters out there, and if I get in good shape I hope to be counted amongst the least of them.
At the start of the tournament the team eventually ended up with three tents. Language barriers and not knowing people very well meant at the end of the 4th day, we had only a vague idea of where the tents had come from. We were told the Austrians wanted their tent back, so we furiously packed down what we thought was the right tent and ran it back to them, only to be met with glazed expressions and shrugs. A few hand gestures and basic words in three different languages later, we figured out where it was meant to go and put it away.
With one more night to go and no tent, four of us ended up boking into a local hotel. Finally, a hot shower! For some reason the shower wasn’t equipped with a standing option, so I sat under the water and washed and scrubbed until the water ran clear. It took a while. I went into the bathroom looking a little bit like I was wearing fake tan, and came back out my normal colour.
That’s not a tan, its dirt…
The hotel was beautiful, since it was inside the city walls it was an 800 year old limestone building. It was gorgeous, laying in bed I had a view of the wooden floors above and the windows had flowerboxes with petunias planted outside. And there was also a flushing sit down toilet. I was so happy!
I did a quick shopping stint for souvenirs and then we met up with the team and went out for dinner. We ate in the square and chatted to some of the members from other teams as they wandered by. The waiter in the restaurant was very enthusiastic about us, he asked us questions about the Battle of the Nations, gave us some free deserts and bought us a round of drinks. I think the economy of Aigues Mortes got quite a bump from the Battle of the Nations, we spent a LOT of euros there.
One of the things I was really interested in doing whilst there, was getting a fish pedicure, I’m a bit sad I ran out of time, but honestly, if you are going to the South of France I highly recommend Aigues Mortes as a holiday destination.
- 10 months ago
I have not had a shower since I left Paris. I went to have one last night. I walked down to the portacom buildings, I took off all my clothes piece by piece and hung it up on the single hook provided in the tiny shower cubicle. I hung my shoes up over the curtain rail and stepped in. I twisted the knob. Nothing happened. I twisted in the other way, still nothing. I pushed it and nothing. I pulled it twisted it while pushing it and pulled it while twisting it. Then I swore at it a little bit. Still nothing. So, I pulled out my wet wipes and wiped myself down, and put all my clothes back on again and stomped grumpily back to camp.
The portaloos are a bit different over here, on the topic of ablutions. They’re not chemical like in NZ. They are little cubicles like what we have, but they have bins and bin liners under the seats. When you’re finished using it, you sprinkle some sawdust in afterwards. Some lucky person comes round once a day and pulls out the bins and changes them over. They smell way less than our ones though.
Yesterday I went up on top of the wall of the city and walked around the outside, there were beautiful views of the town and of the surrounding countryside and a wonderful view of the encampment and the buhurts. Not all of the towers were open, but the ones that were all had art and historical interest points in them, and most importantly they were cool. It is so hot here, the sun was baking hot on the top of the wall so that getting from one shade point to the next was top priority. Inside the towers was lovely, I sat on those cold stones and let them soak the heat out of me before moving on to the next one. It was nice looking down into the courtyards in the town, they looked so cute and cosy. Maybe I could knock on some ones door and maybe they would let me sit in their courtyard and read?
I have met a few of the female fighters while I’ve been here, and they all seem pretty keen and excited for a women’s league next year. I spoke to one lady from St Petersburg and had a look at her kit, she says it weighs 15kg all up. I tried on her legs, I think they were 0.8mm spring steel and they weighed almost nothing. She is a mongolian though, so she wears them underneath her baggy mongolian pants. She also wears a brigandine made of 0.8mm steel plates that must weigh 5kg max. My cuirass weighs 12 kg. I have some serious downsizing to do!
Last night I saw a shiny new toy I wanted that I bought this morning. A light falchion sword from Fabri Armorium. She is beautiful! Apparently I have to name it, but I have no idea what a good name may be, any suggestions?
I went with the team and we spoke with some of the Russian marshalls and fighters and had a q & a session on the rules. The questions and answers were translated to and from broken English to Russian and back again. It was good though, very informative, it helped us clarify the rules because I think a lot of the rules get a bit lost in translation when we read them online.
Today was the finals of the 5 v 5s. We didn’t make it through, but the Australians did, so we went to support them. They were lucky enough to draw the American team. I yelled my support as loud as I could but I’m pretty sure it didn’t help much, the first round the entire Aussie team got pasted in about 20 seconds flat. The second round they did slightly better and took an American down with them. But good on them for making it to the second day.
- 10 months ago
Its 7:30 am and the team is getting ready for the first day of the 5 v5 teams events. We have 6 team members and this morning realised that we only had 4 pairs of gauntlets. Thus ensued a mad dash around the campsite to try and borrow some for the fighting today. Now the team has 4.5 pairs of gauntlets between 6 team members. Barring armour malfunctions, this should hopefully be enough, as you’re not required to have a fully armoured gauntlet beneath your shield.
10:47 am, we have had two battles out of three in our pool. NZ drew France, Belgium and Germany to fight. We’ve fought against France and Belgium so far for 2 losses, next up Germany. The team is standing waiting for the next round, we’re already talking about next year and what we’re going to do better.
This morning armouring up, I was almost as nervous as if it were going to be me going out on the field, my hands were shaking as I did up buckles and I had to go pee three times before everyone was fully armoured.
Up against France first we were a little jittery, we sent the boys out on to the field, our on field captain, the big guy, was hard to knock over and was the last nz man standing on each round, but they call the match off when only one man is left, otherwise I’m pretty sure the big guy would have kept going as long as he could have. We didn’t do too badly, but we are too heavy, recommended armour weights are 15 to 25 kg, and we’re all 30 to 45 kg.
There are two people announcing the fights in 6 different languages for the participants, they do pretty well, there are a few language issues, as would be expected, the announcement prior to one of the bouts made me giggle, I think two of the teams were trying to jam in to the arena through the same gate, forcing the announcer to say “The entrance for the team Italy is the entrance where the team France is not”.
Our next fight was up against the Belgians, and I think we managed to stay on our feet a little longer and take a few more of them down, but still a loss, but we had also lost a lot of our nervousness.
The next fight I watched was between Australia and Spain, Australia fought well, they won one and lost two against Spain, They fought Japan and lost two nil and they won 3 nil against the Czech Republic. Good work guys!
The next New Zealand fight was to be between us and Germany.
11:15 am New Zealand vs Germany, in the first round Germany won by 1 point, in the second round we had a draw, and in the third Germany won by 1 point, but we didn’t go down easily! We fought hard and well, the boys did a good job.
At the end of the day, no one was injured and while we weren’t winners, we’d definitely all learned a few things. Now I get to spend the next two days relaxing in the sunshine and shopping in the incredibly cute village of Aigues Mortes. Oh yeah, and watching some fighting :-)
When we arrived at Aigues Mortes we could not wipe the grins off our exhausted faces. The town was beautiful, a walled medieval town with crenelated turrets and gargoyle spouts. The town square had a big statue and is lined with typical French cafés. I really think that Aigues Mortes would be prime real estate in case of the zombie apocalypse. When those flesh munchers start running riot, the good people of Aigues Mortes could drop the portcullis gates and take pot shots at the undead hordes from atop the battlements or from out of the arrow slots. The only problem will be if they get hungry I guess.
The first day that we were there was one of two market days in the greater town of Aigues Mortes outside the walled city. The town consist of houses that are of similar age to the walled town and along the town commons are the markets. Everything is sold here, fruit, veg, clothing, toys and meat. I think that the people over here have slightly different standards of food storage hygiene. In New Zealand, pretty much no one will touch food that has not been packaged in an airtight container and stored under refrigeration. Markets in the south of France sell food in open air stalls from 9 am to 3 pm, and it gets hot here, even in spring, I think we’ve been routinely enjoying temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius if not more, most days.
The second day that we were there was the first day of the competition, this involved a two hour opening ceremony where all the countries paraded by the crowd in their finery. The teams each get to walk out to a piece of music, then once all the teams were assembled in the centre, the captain from each team was allowed to make a speech of no longer than one minute, and then the National Anthem was played. Our team walked on to P.O.D’s Boom and the National anthem was a bit of a rocky guitar version, which was good, because the New Zealand national is fairly sleep inducing on a good day.
After the ceremony we went back to the camp and got our 1 v 1 fighters ready to rumble! We had the Big guy and the SCA dude entering the lists for the 1 v1, the big guy is heavy, he’s 6 foot four and solid, wearing 45 kg of armour. The SCA dude is lighter, with light splint armour, but he was finishing his gear off right up until roll call. We got them up to the lists, with no clear idea of how the competition really worked, but we got them there on time and kitted up.
The big guy was up first against Italy, he pushed the Italian out of the lists twice and won the bought. Next he fought Germany and didn’t do as well, and he conceded the next bought. The SCA dude had two tko’s due to armour malfunctions. One of the boughts he got knocked out of the lists and landed on his head. When one of the girls went to grab him an icepack and ended up returning with two ambulance guys to give him a check-up. They diagnosed him with a mild concussion and cleared him for fighting the next day.
The ceremony was from about 10 am to 12 pm, which meant that we were fighting the 1 v 1’s in the heat of the day. And it is hot here from 11 am throught to 5 pm. If this is spring I cannot imagine what summer must be like. I have been drinking at least 3 L of water a day, and I still feel dehydrated. We’re also camped in a sandy potato field. So all the food has a rather crunchy texture. Yum! You can really taste the authenticity!
- 10 months ago
Right now I’m sitting on a train en route to Aigues Mortes. We only just made it on, seriously, we threw the last bag into the stairwell just as the doors closed on our butts. No checked luggage sadly.
We spent yesterday looking around Paris, one of the team had a handy ap for her ipad that showed all the tourist destinations, unfortunately since it was a Monday, most of those destinations were closed. We went to Notre Dame cathedral, the Medieval museum, the Arc de Triumph with quick stops at the Louvre and The Eiffel Tower just so we could sat we did.
Firstly though, we had to familiarise ourselves with the Metro system. Firstly, we tried following a map for the bus route, this didn’t work out so well for us because we were underground and the busses weren’t. Once we realised our error, we started following the correct map and jumped on the metro. There were a couple of places where we had to travel to one stop, get off again and walk to the other side of the tracks so we could go back the way we came, but we got there in the end.
Notre Dame cathedral was beautiful, and we paid EU$4 extra to go into the treasury and see a few of the treasures, some of which were rather gory treasures. Religious reliquaries apparently contain pieces of the actual saints. I saw chunks of jawbone, femurs and unidentifiable people parts lovingly displayed in gilt and velvet boxes.
Next stop was the medieval museum where we saw a lot of religious history. A lot of paintings and intricately carved altar pieces and some medieval jewellery. There was also a giant chess board outside which provided us with some entertainment. We looked in heaps of tacky Paris souvenir shops too and found a lot of special deals on mini Eiffel Towers and model Arc de Triumphs.
We caught the Metro to the Arc de Triumph, I ended up watching some buskers instead of the architecture, but you’ve seen one Arc, you’ve seen them all right?
After that was the fly by Louvre, we got off the Metro, looked at the Pyramid, then jumped back on and went to the Eiffel Tower. We planned to go back to the motel for a sit down then go out for dinner, but one by one we nodded off and didn’t wake up till morning.
We woke up around 6:40 am and went for a wander around the neighbourhood. We walked through produce market just setting up and went to a café for coffee. One of the funnest parts of this trip is watching two of the boys try and order mochachinos. They do not make Mochas in France. The boys generally manage to fumble their way to explaining that they want a hot chocolates with a shot of espresso in it, but this mornings effort really took the cake, they tried to explain to the waitress that they wanted hot chocolate with espresso in it, I don’t think the waitress really believed it was a thing, and eventually she came out with two cups with chocolate, two jugs of steamed milk and two shots of espresso, and pretty much said “do it yourself”.
Getting our gear to the train station was mission. Three of us walked from our motel to the station, it took around 15 mins with 150 kg of gear, another two walked for an hour with 90 kg of gear and the other two took caught a cab. So, we now had a pile of gear outside Garre de Lyon train station at the top entrance and needed to get in downstairs to the lockers. We had someone guard the gear at the top, and bought it down piece by piece and left it with someone to guard at the bottom. Once we had it all in one place we moved it through to the lockers. 20 bags with swords and armour through the xray machines caused us to get some funny looks.
Then we took the Metro to Les Invalides. We had just over an hour in the largest collection of medieval armour and weapons in Paris, it wasn’t enough, not by half, but it was wonderful!
After the fastest time through the museum ever we had a rush to get back to Garre de Lyon. 3 of us got in one taxi, leaving four of us to hail down another. We tried unsuccessfully and ended up jumping back on the Metro. We got back to Garre de Lyon 45 mins before our train left. We had a mad rush to ferry our luggage back to the top, The platform we were leaving from was not announced until 15 mins before we were due to depart. There were 7 of us running down the platform unceremoniously throwing our luggage into our platform. We only JUST made it. Then collapsed into a heap on the seats.
We made it all the way to Aigues mortes. We had been promised a bus to pick us up. It was kind of a bus:
So we arrived at the event, tired, excited and by hobby train. Wish us luck!
Day of departure arrived and I spent most of the morning packing and checking lists. I have the team uniforms, and that bag alone weighed 5kg. I packed two changes of medieval clothes, some bedding, two changes of medieval clothing for one of the fighters, feasting kit, leather canteens, kitchen supplies, the video camera tripod, one change of modern clothing, toiletries, a sewing kit, plugs and chargers. Final weight:20.8kg, I could have fit more stuff in!
I’m actually astounded by the number of cables and plugs I need to bring, why are there so many pieces of electronic equipment that are so important to me that I cannot bear to be parted from them for 12 days? I have my phone charger, my laptop charger, video camera charger, still camera charger, USB cable for my camera, usb cable for my e-reader, a usb cable for the video camera, a portable hard drive and a European adapter plug with a multiboard. A multboard is a must, could you imagine charging all those things one by one? As it is, I reckon I’m going to take out a city grid in Paris when a rock up to my motel and plug all that in at once to the old building wiring.
Departure time was 7:30pm from Wellington, which left plenty of time during the day to help with last minute armouring. Yes, by day of departure you would think there’s no last minute armouring to be done, in an ideal world that would be true. But it’s not all bad, I’ve heard that there will be some people who are actually planning to complete their armour on site. So even though I was riveting, sewing and making straps right up until it was time to leave, we actually managed to arrive on time for check in.
I booked the tickets for myself and two other team members about six weeks ago, and as it turns out being on time for check in was a really good thing as I’d booked one of them under the wrong name. Not my fault he has a stupid double-barrelled surname that I didn’t know about (I SWEAR it’s not my fault! Not ALL my fault at least). He was really, REALLY close to not being able to leave the country, which would have been the opposite of awesome to say the least. We had our excess baggage details sorted by a doddery old man, and I’m not sure he knew exactly what he was doing because when we got to Hong Kong to check in for our Paris leg, Air France were a bit uncertain that we had all the bags we said we did. I guess we’ll find out when we land if everyone has their armour. There is also an outside chance that the one with the wrong name will get stopped in immigration and told to go home. Fingers crossed they let him in.
As I’m writing this we are 3 hours from France, which means we have been flying for 27 hours so far. I’m not a fan of travel, not by a long shot. Sitting still in a cramped environment makes my very antsy in my pantsys. And I’m so incredibly thirsty! And tired! One of the team has discovered the open bar. We’re going to have to roll him off the plane. I hope they don’t breathalyse you to get into a country, but France is pretty much the home of wine, so we should be ok.
Our transfer at Hong Kong airport went smoothly, we enjoyed the travelators. We guessed that the length of the departure terminal was about 1.5 km from foodcourt to foodcourt, and that was just one of the 4 departure wings. There were designer stores dotted all over, with restaurants and café’s in between. We went to McDonalds, typical westerners! Mainly though because they had the cheapest coffee. I bought 3 coffees and a bottle of water for HK$89.00.
I cannot wait to land and get out of this flying prison. I’ve managed to sleep for 5 hours total so far, I’ve watched Warm Bodies and a few episodes of Big Bang Theory, Les Miserables, Oz the Great and Powerful and The Asterix movie. I’ve played a lot of solitaire and Bejeweled and paced up and down the aisles to get rid of my leg cramp. I’m all out of stuff to do!
And they let him in to France, here we are all at Charles de Gaulle:
- 10 months ago
As you may have guessed from my last post, this is not a cheap sport. Armour is not cheap. Taking a team of combatants from New Zealand to France is not cheap. Struggles like the lateness of being told the venue and the timing of picking the team all adds to the final expense. Not to mention of course the day to day expenses that crop up. We need money for marketing, the team needed money to pay for our membership to the Historical Medieval Battle International Association, people needed financial assistance just to travel within New Zealand, let alone overseas. So we decided to fundraise.
Personally, the only real experience I’ve had with fundraising is ignoring those people with buckets and stickers who stand on street corners Friday mornings, not a glowing resume for someone looking to gently extort the public for donations.
The most successful fundraising effort I have so far been involved in has been the Pledge Me Project – Running into Battle . Three of the team members pledged to run 5 km in all our armour. The kick off amount was $50. I said bugger running in all my armour for $50, if they want to see me burst my spleen, it’s going to cost them a little more than that! So I made a photo album on my Facebook page and pledged that for every $25 I got pledged I would put on an extra bit of armour, and if I got pledged $1000, I would run a victory lap wearing a chain mail bikini.
In hindsight (wonderful thing that it is) I think I set the bar a little too low, at $25 per piece, it only worked out to $200 for a fully armoured Rachael, which makes it a big jump to a bikini clad Rachael at $1000.
I have done some running before, running is great, I ran a half marathon once, I’m pretty fit, I can run 5km in my sleep. 5km in armour though… The pledges hit $50, so I figured it was time to get training. Running in public was out of the question, so I started training on the treadmill using a couch to 5km program. I figured that at 90kg with all my armour on, learning to run in armour would be similar to a 90 kg person starting a running programme for the first time.
I have run next to 90 kg people before. Not one of them had ever sounded like a drum filled with tin cans rolling down a hill. I pretty sure that the 90 kg people I’ve run next to haven’t ever sweated that much or had their heart rates go so high they were afraid to take their pulse rates either. And after a couple of days training, they could almost certainly run for more than 60 sec at a time.
I tried to run at least once a week in my armour, I really didn’t want to do it, it was really hard and being locked into that metal suit was not the same as running normally, where I kind of feel free and alive. It was really hard work. Plus, I hate running on treadmills.
Which brings me to footwear choices. I like to run in minimal footwear, I totally jumped on that barefoot running bandwagon when it came out, also, medieval footwear is pretty minimal and that’s what I would be wearing on running day. The most important thing about barefoot running is to avoid heel strike, which is where you strike the ground with the heel of your foot first instead of your midsole. It turns out running on a treadmill can actually promote heel strike.
I started to experience some pain, mainly in my left knee while walking and standing. I had to take painkillers at night to get to sleep. I figured I’d better go see a physio. I went to my first appointment and explained about the pain I was having and explained what I was training for, I think my physio thought I was a little cracked. He had fun with me though, I think he is a bit of a sadist, he always smiles when he jabs me in my inflamed tendons and I react in pain. And he’s used a lot of strapping tape on me too.
$165 worth of physio appointments later and I learned that increasing your bodyweight suddenly by around 30kg then running barefoot on a treadmill increases your chances of injury a little, who would have thought?
Meanwhile the pledges increased and running day loomed closer, I updated my profile picture constantly to reflect this, and plugged the project almost non-stop on my Facebook page for around six weeks. Many of my friends and workmates donated to the project in amounts of anywhere from $5 to $100, and I tried to make a point of thanking every one of them.
Let’s face it, many of the projects on Pledge Me are for very good causes, much fluffier, heart-warming and serve more apparent public good than an amateur sports team for a very new sport that smells a lot like geekery, so I was incredibly grateful for all the pledges. I’m pretty sure most of them just thought it would be hilarious to see a woman run in a chain mail bikini though.
As a kind of last minute thing I organised an event on Facebook and invited people to come see me run and partake in a sausage sizzle. I was in two minds about this, it’s nice to have company, but I also thought that I might throw up, pass out or die during my run, and I didn’t want to do that too publicly.
The day before the run I went to my physio and he wrapped my leg in yards of tape. I turned up to the park on the day, weather was good, not too hot not too cold. Around 15 supporters turned up to see me run, some of them ran with me, I loaned them various bits of armour to run in too. I was pretty nervous to start, to date on the treadmill I had managed to run a maximum of 3.64 km, and that included some walking.
Nervousness gave way to stubbornness and nausea. I ran 1 km and had a rest for half a minute, then I ran 500m and rested for half a minute. Eventually I was resting half a minute after every 250m lap. I drank some powerade and it tasted like thick syrup and stuck to my throat. Water was better. At the 3 km mark I busted a strap on my greave, that got me a 4 min rest for repairs. I had to get rid of my helmet and gloves, there was no way I could make it the whole way with those, that lightened me up about 3 kg. I did the last two laps in one go and even sprinted the last 100m. Then I lay down on the ground and didn’t move while everyone unbuckled my armour for me. At this point I was pretty happy, I may have had some rest stops, but I did run 5 km in plate armour. It took me 58 mins. Four minutes slower than my best 10km time.
Drinking my post-run bourbon
I would say I spent 6 to 10 weeks training for this and promoting it. The other two guys spent similar amounts of time in their own hometowns preparing in their own ways. This painful tiring venture pulled us in the grand sum of $1085 between the three of us. (And no, I did not run in the bikini $1085/3 = $361 per person.)
Here are some of our other fundraising attempts to date (there are more, but I don’t know about all of them):
Like most things I’ve done, I look back and think “would I do that again?” and the answer is usually, “yes, but..” I can certainly say I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment, I set a goal and I achieved it, I was very proud of myself. But the amount of effort that went into it was a lot, and I have a feeling it was a bit too much. After speaking with a few of my friends we discussed maybe doing another running event, but maybe something more like a relay, where you can run as a team, and no one has to work quite so hard.
I think the trick is to keep it simple. The harder you have to work, the less value you get for it. Fundraising is time consuming, and your time is important. I never heard of anyone having to train for weeks to run a sausage sizzle!
- 10 months ago
Making my own armour from scratch has been an interesting experience so far, with mixed success.
Step one of my new suit was my helmet, and there was NO WAY I was going to trust the safety my brain inside something I had made. So, I engaged the services of an expert armourer. The nearest one who was happy to help and reasonably good (There is some debate about where he ranks against other armourers in New Zealand :p) lives in New Plymouth. This is a 4.5 hour drive from Wellington.
6 sheets of various thicknesses of spring steel were specially ordered from Australia for the purpose, to the tune of around $620 NZD, after GST and import tax was paid I’d easily spent over a thousand dollars(make it yourself they said, it’ll be cheaper they said!).
My criteria for helm basically consisted of being as impenetrable as possible. For construction I decided 2mm hardened spring steel was the ideal fabric in which to encase my precious noggin. I like vegetables as much as the next ex-vegetarian, but I don’t want to be one.
My armourer is a particular fan of armour from the 15th Century, and from the Churburg Catalogue in particular, so based on my requirement for impenetrability, the great sea bascinet was chosen.
I watched this being constructed and even helped a little with the heat treating process, which was a lot of fun, if a little scary. Scary because not only is there the danger that comes with working with extreme heat, but also that my precious new helm could get warped with the heat and we’d have to go back to the drawing board. It turned out fine!
The next bit of armour to make, and the first piece that I made, was my cuirass. To protect my vital organs I chose 1.6 mm spring steel for my front and back plates, with 1.2 mm spring for my skirt lames.
The first thing I learned was that there are MANY kinds of hammers. MANY. The next thing I learned was that I was usually using the wrong one. I also found out that hitting steel isn’t as easy as my armourer made it look. Working spring steel is a battle, you start with a shiny pretty flat surface, and it wants to stay that way! It resists being shaped into a useful object very strongly. Sometimes if you hit it in one place it pops up in another. If you hit it the wrong way it can snap. If you hit it too much it becomes work hardened and can crack. Also, all that hammering made my arm hurt!
Still, I did alright! And found that once I got the hang of it, rolled edges are quite fun.
The next bit of armour to tackle was my arms. The goal: Fully articulating arm harness with 1.6mm hardened spring elbows and 1.2 mm hardened spring vam and rerebraces. The reality: Partially articulating pre heat treated slightly crooked arm harness. Slightly crooked mainly because of the way my armourer teaches me to armour. Basically he helps pattern up and then I’ll cut the steel and give it some basic shape (for me – basic shape = hours of hammering). Then he will come over and take a look at it and hit it five times to give a perfectly proportioned piece of steel. Then he’ll say “Now, make the other side look like this”. The really fun part about this is that you end up with one arm that looks exactly like the photo in the catalogue and one side that looks like a kindergarten project. There are a few tricks to dealing with this 1 – don’t give him all the same side to demonstrate on or your entire right side will look perfect and your left will look pretty bad, switch it up a little. 2 – if it’s looking really awful, weep a few fetching girlish tears of frustration (I’ve seen this this trick work for dudes too.)
The next bit I started on was my gauntlets to protect my wonderful little phalanges. I cut out some back plates, hammered them in to a little bit of a shape and cracked the steel in the curve between thumb and forefinger. These then got chucked in the bin. My armourer came to the rescue with a half-finished pair he dug up in the back of his workshop somewhere (his workshop is pretty intense, and I think there may be an entrance to Narnia somewhere in there) and said he’d finish them off for $200. I felt sorry for the twisted lumps of steel I’d thrown out and agreed. Unfortunately, I’m still to see these finished, as he is only one man and I’m ineligible to fight this year so I’m way down the bottom of the priority list. But, they’ll be great when they’re done, and I did make all the finger lames myself.
The next bit I’ve started on is my greaves. Apparently this is one of the most difficult bits. I can’t really tell the difference, to me the whole thing is the most difficult bit!
The goal was 1.6mm spring on the shins and 1.2 mm spring on the calves. My right shin will be 1.6mm spring, the other bits are going to be 1.2mm mild. I started off with good intentions, but broke two linisher belts (ouch!), had a hissy fit, and then went for a bit of a lie down.
The next bit I made are my spaulders. Goal: Sleek, stylish fully articulating and smoothly functional 1.2mm hardened spring steel spaulders based on an effigy dated from 1475. So far: They are very functional…..if you are a statue of dude on a sarcophagus. I could go into detail…. But they are a work in progress. Initially they were quite constrictive, but one of the plates has now been remodelled, and once I rivet them back together I am cautiously optimistic about their functionality. The stylishness however will need work!
So, “all” that is remaining to start making is my leg armour. Sounds easy right? No, because then we come to heat treating everything, which a time consuming process requiring the purchase of expensive gasses. I can’t wait. (I’m not that bitter, it’s also fun!)
Out of interest, I’ve put together a spread sheet of costs so far. This is fairly ballpark and probably a little on the conservative side:
A fully functional SCA suit of armour can be bought online for US$4200.00, with an estimated delivery time of up to 21 days. There are plenty more options, this is just the one that Google told me first.
I started making my armour in January 2012. 15 months later I have a partially complete, almost functional, moderately passable suit of armour.
So, in summary, would I recommend someone make their own suit of armour? Yes and no. It depends on your reasons. If you want to DIY because you have heard about an exciting international tournament and want to save a bit of money because you want to go and compete, definitely not. Your time would be way better spent training instead of long sleepless weekends with too much driving. But, on the other hand, given no time or budget constraints? Yes, definitely. It’s really rewarding to go out on the field in a suit of armour you have constructed yourself. You learn a lot of things. You get great forearms. Power tools are fun.