Tests of arms, music and archery were held at the Shire of Coill Mhor’s Forest Champions Tourney and Bent Bodkin last weekend.
Organized by Lady Rhiannon ap Gwynedd, Sue Davis, the event saw around 30 members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms come to the tourney grounds by the South Cariboo Regional Airport. Davis, who is the seneschal for 100 Mile’s local chapter, said the event was the last of the year.
“We got a lot more people than we had last year and everyone seems to be having a good time,” Davis said. “So many people come from the Lower Mainland, Prince George, Kamloops and of course our locals.”
The tourney itself consisted of several contests in different types of medieval activities including heavy fighting, medieval fencing, thrown weapons, archery, the bardic arts and combat archery. Shire champions were crowned based on their skill and score, Davis said.
Connor Simmons, known in the SCA as Elias Hadleigh, took the title of fencing champion. Simmons, who came down from Prince George, said he was just looking for a fun weekend and was surprised he won the competition.
“I used to do more of the heavy fighting but in the last couple of years I’ve kind of transitioned into fencing,” Simmons said. “It’s a little more immersive because the costumes are a little more accurate and I needed something a little lighter. You don’t come away with brutal bruises from this as much as you do with heavy fighting.”
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Medieval fencing differs from regular sport fencing in several key ways. Simmons said that, in addition to the period-appropriate costumes, they don’t use thin foils. Instead, they use heavier rapiers, allowing them to both stab and cut their opponents anywhere on the body to score points.
“Another bit of the historical aspect is we get to play with other techniques. We’re not just limited to a single sword. We get to use daggers, bucklers, cloaks, canes and pistols,” Simmons said.
Beyond his interest in medievalism, Simmons said the people he meets at SCA events are what keeps him engaged.
“The people are a really welcoming group. The community in the province isn’t that large but everyone is just super happy to be there and share what they know,” Simmons said.
Savvanah Bell, also known as Inga Knutsdottir, agreed that the people in the SCA are a welcoming bunch. The tourney marked Bell’s first event and they said it was a great experience.
“I enjoy the garb from it and the fighting has interested me,” Bell said, noting they’d like to get into medieval fencing.
Following the main competitions on Saturday, Davis said attendees enjoyed a three-course feast in the Hanger’s dining room. During the feast, the bardic competition was held which she said was lots of fun for everyone.
Davis said she welcomes anyone interested in joining the SCA to attend one of their meetings Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at the 108 Community Centre. In addition to the combat activities, Davis said they’re also starting to do medieval dancing and clothes-making.
“I just hope that people will come out and see what we’re doing. We try very hard to recreate the historical part and it seems a lot of people are interested in it,” Davis said. “The first step is to show up. We’re friendly and we’ll walk you through it.”