This article is for the use of the members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The author gives his permission for it to be reprinted or to be put on web sites by members for their use, as long as proper credit is given to the author.
John R Edgerton (AKA Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf)
Copyright 2010 by John R. Edgerton. All rights reserved.
This is not an official publication of either The Society for Creative Anachronism or the Kingdom of the West.
This article is not published by the Society for Creative Anachronism Inc.
Since the information contained herein may be used under circumstances outside of their control, neither the author nor the Society for Creative Anachronism Inc. assume any responsibility whatsoever for any loss or injury resulting from such use.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
COIN SHOOT 5
GIOSTRA OF THE ARCHIDADO 7
WREATH SHOOT 9
THE CONTEST OF THE CROSSBOWS 11
WAND SHOOT 13
FERRARA RING SHOOT 14
TARGET SHOOT 16
BALESTRO DEL GIRFALCO 23
SHOOTING AT THE MARKS 26
WILLIAM TELL 30
ARAB ARCHERY 32
FLEMISH BLAZON OR LUCKY TARGET 38 TIR AU BEURSAULT 39
CLOUT SHOOTING 42
FLIGHT SHOOTING 43
POPULARITY OF ARCHERY CONTESTS 44
PAIRS OF ARROWS 46
GERMAN AND FLEMISH SHOOTING 47 A PERIOD TARGET FOR THE SCA 49
WINNER’S CHOICE 59
REACTIVE TARGETS 62
SALT DOUGH RECIPE 64
AUTHOR INFORMATION 65
Despite what we all may have learned from watching Errol Flynn’s “Robin Hood”, the five color FITA target face was never used in Medieval or even Renaissance archery competitions.
The idea of finding a more period target to use for archery in the Society for Creative Anachronism has been discussed lately in SCA archery circles. The sixty cm five ring colored target that is in common use, is not at all in period and detracts from the medieval look for which our archery events should strive. I say this even though I am the one that first introduced its use for the Royal Round And IKAC. If I had known more about medieval archery back then, I would have used a more period looking target.
I have a copy of a photo from the second SCA tourney that shows a fighter wearing a motorcycle helmet in the foreground with an archery target in the background. The target was a FITA five-color face. It has been over forty-four years and motorcycle helmets are no longer with us. However, we are still using that same non-period target face.
The colored five ring target and scoring as is used in modern archery dates back only to the Prince of Wales in 1787, he established the "prince’s reckoning" (values for rings of 9, 7, 5, 3, 1 point) and colors.
Some time ago I started collecting information on period competitions from the archery books in my library. Then I expanded the search to books from inter-library loan, Google Books and the web. The information finally reached a point where I felt I should share it with other archers in the SCA. I have written this article in the hope of encouraging the use of period targets and contests at our SCA archery competitions by providing information on what some period competitions entailed. In most all cases they are easy to set up and run and are often more interesting to watch for the audience than competitions shooting the FITA five color face.
If you should know of documentable sources for information on any other period competitions or targets, I would greatly appreciate it if you could contact me with the information.
Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf, Kingdom of the West, January 2010
One reference I found mentioned that the Genoese crossbowmen aboard ships would sometimes practice by shooting at a coin attached to the mast of an adjacent ship. This offered an excellent simulation for what they would have to do in ship-to-ship battle, because the motion of the waves would affect both the shooter and the target. But, to attempt to reproduce these moving conditions would be more effort than most would want to put into setting up a shoot. However, the idea of shooting at a coin has interesting possibilities.
Shooting at real coins could be done. But, the bolts or arrows from our light bows bouncing off the coins would also make it hard to score. For SCA use you can use two-inch diameter circles cut from yellow card stock. Each archer clearly prints their name on one and secures it with their name facing out, with a target pin, anywhere on the matt, but no closer than six inches from the edge of the matt. This is done to prevent clever archers from placing their coin where others would be reluctant to shoot at it, such as in a corner of a square matt or the edge of a round one, for fear of missing and having to search for their bolt or arrow.
The gold paper coins represent the six “gold” chocolate coins that the archer running the competition gives to each archer. Shooting directly at the chocolate coins ruins them for eating later. A greater or lesser number of chocolate coins may be used depending upon how long you want the shoot to last.
If you want to run the Coin Shoot, but were unable to purchase the chocolate gold coins in advance, you may use real coins or other items as tokens. You should be creative.
The shoot begins at an unannounced distance between ten and fifteen yards. The archers shoot one at a time. If there are a large number of archers shooting, then you may have more than one shoot at a time to speed up the competition. After all have shot once, they advance to the target and the archer running the competition records whose coins were hit and by whom. The archer hitting a coin receives a gold coin from the person whose coin they hit. The arrow or bolt must cut the coin. Just touching does not count. If more than one archer hits the same coin, they each get a coin from its owner. Hitting your own coin counts as a miss. When an archer runs out of coins, both those they started with and any they may have won, they are eliminated. The winner may be the archer with the most coins after a set number of ends or the first archer to achieve a predetermined number of coins. If you are running the Coin shoot as a stand-alone competition and there is a tie, you may have a shoot off with just the coins of those in the shoot off. You should remind the archers not to eat any of their coins while waiting to shoot.
This shoot can lead to the types of alliances of the medieval Italian city states being formed between the archers, where treaties not to attack each other and to attack an other archer’s coin are made and broken.
If you are using the Coin Shoot as one part of a competition you can just convert each archers final total of coins to points, one per coin, for adding to a total and record them on the score sheet.
GIOSTRA OF THE ARCHIDADO
This is based upon a competition first held in Cortona, Italy in 1397 for a noble’s wedding. It is still shot there today. Teams from each of the five neighborhoods of the city shot it. The target is in the shape of a twenty- four-inch hexagon with a six-inch cube in the center. The front of the cube has four positive scoring areas of equal width. The inner most scores four points and the outer one point. The hexagon is divided into six triangles, which in turn are divided in half. It is shot from a distance of twenty yards.
The divisions of the hexagon are all negative scoring, from minus one to minus two points. These areas have different colors and images.
Shots, which miss the entire target, also lose the next turn of shooting. Arrows or bolts, which either fall out of the target or knocked out by another archer’s arrow, lose whatever score it had, either positive or negative. If an arrow should touch more than one scoring area, then it counts as the more favorable score, e.g. if it touches both the black (-1) and the yellow (-2) then it counts as only minus one point. In the cube, an arrow cutting the line counts as the higher score. Each archer shoots once per end, then the scores are recorded. The number of ends shot should be determined in advance by the time available. The winner is the archer with the highest score.
The target can also be set up using a standard sixty centimeter five color face. Divide the face into six equal areas from the outside of the white to the outside of the gold at: 1, 4, 6, 8 and 10 o’clock and label them with their negative points. Then divide outer ring of the gold in half, so that there are four rings in the gold and label them one through four.
Traditionally the “Giostra of the Archidado” and the “Contest of the Crossbows” rounds were often shot by large heavy draw crossbows which needed to be supported on special stands such as posts or shooting benches. If the archers wish and they have the support to use, then crossbows shooting these rounds could be allowed to be directly supported.
Wreaths, garlands and chaplets were a common target. They show up in the Robin Hood legends and other sources. The round target in the fourteenth century illustration of archers shooting at the butts in the Luttrell Psalter may be a wreath because in clear copies of the drawing the white rings on the butts can be seen to have curved lines inside them.
Two yerdes (rods) wee up set
on every side a rose garlonde,
They shot under the lyne;
‘who fayleth of the rose garland,
His takyll(arrow) he shall tyne’ (forfeit)
Vines were easy to find and when braided into a circle, they made a handy target. Pre-made wreaths, at the left, can be found at craft stores. It can be decorated with leaves and flowers. If the wreath is made with actual flowers, it can be given to the winner of the shoot. The wreath was often placed on stake. Sometimes this was combined with “shooting under the lyne (line)”. The arrow had to have a low enough trajectory to pass under either low hanging branches or a cloth stretched horizontality over the path of the arrows and about half way to the target. This required both a strong bow and good shooting skills.
This is scored with one point for each arrow or bolt that strikes within the target area. Since the wreath is thick the scoring area can either be all hits within the inside of the wreath, (arrows must not touch the inner wreath edge to score), or all hits within the outside edge score if they at least touch the wreath.
At the last shot that Robyn shot
For all his frendes fare,
Yet he fayled of the garlonde
Three fingers and mare.
This indicates that fingers were sometimes used for measuring from the pin or mark when determining the score. The loser faced the possibility of both losing his arrow and receiving a buffet to his head.