How to be a combat archer, mostly by Bethan Daniels of Brockwood, 26/9/13:
The rules you need to know are here: http://www.sca.org.au/marshal/docs/fighters-handbook.pdf
Part 1: Equipment.
You will need Armour. Rules for armour are covered in the rules, chapter 7. ‘Rigid’ and ‘resilient’ are defined in Appendix A.1.
There are a lot of places you can buy armour online these days. (This statement needs expansion!)
You should have your own knee and elbow pads, and box if you’re male.
Most archers are plumed combatants (some are heavy combatants that also shoot arrows).If you are a plumed combatant and you’re not borrowing someone else’s, you can buy ostrich feathers (ultra large) to make plumes from Photios Brothers next to Town Hall http://www.photiosbros.com.au/feathers/ostrich-feathers/ostrich-feathers-feathers.htm
You will need Weapons. Rules for Weapons are described in chapter 10.
Part 2: Rules about how to act on the field.
In general, these can be summed up as ‘don’t act dangerously, don’t put yourself in danger, and don’t be a dick’. Of course you will read all the rules, but the most important bits are:
1.1.2 Plumed combatant;
1.2.4 and .6 War Combat and War Combat with arrows
Chapter 3. Rules of the List
Chapter 4. Conventions of Combat
(5.2.2 and .3 if you’re interested in using pavises)
Chapter 6. Target Areas and Acknowledgement of Blows
Chapter 11. Grievance Procedure (or, more correctly, ‘Dispute Resolution Procedure’) – it should reflect section X.3 here: http://lochac.sca.org/laws/LochacLawsAsXLVIIMar2013.pdf
Part 3. Hints about what to do on the field.
– if you’re a practiced target archer, shooting in armour, especially in a helmet, will NOT be natural. If you’re used to anchoring on your jaw/lips/ear, there will be a helmet in the way. You’ll need to practice in armour (or at least in helmet and hand-armour).
– if you’re a practiced target archer, you will not have problems with accidentally shooting people within the discharge limit of 5m; shooting at people will probably within 10m will probably take some work.
– don’t stand still. Move from side to side, bob around.
– get yourself attached to a heavy or heavy unit – or ‘attach’ yourself by standing close to it. Use their shields and bodies to protect yourself from arrows. Use their heavies to protect yourself from opposing heavies. Shoot around them but be careful not to shoot them in the back, that’s a fail.
– find your accuracy distance and get to it. For some people, that’s 20m; for me it’s more like 10m.
– don’t bother shooting at two heavies in one-on-one, they’ll interpret your arrows as ‘light’ sword blows.
– if someone isn’t noticing your arrows, don’t get worked up, just find someone else to target, or a different place to target them. You can (and should) talk to them about it after the battle but don’t be surprised if they just didn’t notice.
– don’t run off the edge of the world – pay attention to the boundaries when they call them
– archers usually have arrow-swap arrangements with archers on their own side; while you’re shooting someone may come up to you and ask for arrows (and you can do the same). There is no obligation to say yes!
– similarly, when you’re dead other archers can ‘loot the dead’ (i.e. ask you) for arrows.
– when you’re dead, look dead. (This can be hard to do if you’re being looted for arrows, so make sure you’ve got your bow well over your head.)
– if you lose an arm, you are allowed to sit down and shoot your bow with your feet and one hand – but don’t unless you can do it safely!
– Marshals will usually wear a black tabard with crossed yellow swords and/or be carrying a black and yellow spirally striped pole – but not always. They won’t take your shots.
– Arrows hurt like paintball, but you’re unlikely to be hit by as many of them.
– Some archers go for accuracy. Others go for scatter-gun. With practice I can get off about 8 arrows a minute. It’s going to be up to you. Even arrows that don’t hit will influence how your opponents behave on the field, which can make the difference in a battle.
– How many arrows you carry will be influenced by your style. I would suggest 20 as a good number to start with. Some people go out with 6, I prefer 60.
– Arrows are consumables. You will lose arrows in every war. Some will break, either by being stepped on, or by being shot at something hard (shield, helmet). Some will disappear into the terrain. Salvage the parts from the broken arrows.
– Rigid quivers mean your arrows can be used after a quiver shot without all needing inspection.
– No-one should ever hit you with a stick. They should only ever present their weapon from 5m. If someone is coming at you and you think they’re going to hit you, drop to the ground! Your armour will keep you safe but being hit by a sword hurts more than being hit by an arrow.
– take a look around at who is starting on your side – it can get confusing later, and shooting your own people is bad form.
– If there is only one heavy left on your side, don’t shoot them by accident!
– Learn to nock your arrows – in armour – without looking, and while moving. Conversely, if you see someone glance down towards their string, or stop moving to nock, shoot them. Many archers prefer 4-fletch arrows so you can nock them either way.
– No really; keep moving.
– Many combat archers like to work in pairs. Try finding a friend and shooting together. Ideally, one of you picks a target and the other watches for people aiming at either of you. If there are arrows inbound, the watcher calls out and you both move. When the shooter is taking a shot, he can call out and the watcher turns and takes a quick shot too. One of you should shoot high and the other low, to bracket shields. The reality rarely works out that cleanly, but even trying it gets you used to the idea of watching out for your buddy, and coordinating targets.
– Keep looking around. If you’ve got a target and are waiting for the right moment to shoot, keep glancing away to make sure you’re not about to die.
If a heavy charges you, don’t sprint for the horizon; take ten steps, turn, and be ready to shoot. If you find yourself running next to another archer, veer off. If you all just run he’ll run you down one-by-one; if you scatter, someone he doesn’t chase should be able to shoot him.
– If a friendly heavy steps up to block the approach of an enemy, be ready to support him. Step back to 5-10m and be ready to shoot. Listen up. Sometimes your heavy would prefer a fair fight (foolish heavies); if you hear him yelling “leave him” or something similar then it’s nice to do so, but be ready to shoot if someone else tries to interfere, or if the wrong guy wins. (If he’s yelling “Shoothimshoothimshoothim!” in a panicked voice, it’s probably me; you have 5 seconds to shoot him before he kills me and comes after you next.)
– Kill the poles. Anyone carrying a polearm has taken an offensive advantage in melee, in exchange for a large defensive disadvantage against arrows. Not only are they easier to kill than shield-carriers, but they are often more dangerous to your army as a whole if they make it into melee (possibly that one’s a little controversial, and maybe too much strategy rather than tactics for a beginners guide anyways).