Letter to the Archery Marshal, SCA

Greetings to you, and thank you in advance for your time in this email.

My mundane is Katrina, my real name is Spearcarrier, and so my “name” to you is Spear. Take your pick which one to use, I don’t care. I never know how to introduce myself in these circles because of all the people who try to change my name, so if my introduction is a bit strange that’s why.

I’m writing to you about a simple matter of combat archery and how it has created strife for my family in five shires now, across three kingdoms. As for myself personally, as of this morning I give up. I am completely disheartened by the SCA, it’s rules, the attitudes, and the overall lack of acceptance for people like myself. But perhaps, I thought, if I went over everyone that’s part of the problem to your level maybe in the future education and provisions can be done to make the game fun again for everyone. So far not so much, and yet I hear complaint after complaint from place to place my husband and I go about how the game is dying, how no one wants to play – and guys, there’s a reason for that.

I’ll try to be blunt, but I also tend to be longwinded, and I think in story so like so many who aren’t used to the courtesy of information… if you have trouble following me, sorry about that. But here goes.

I have an invisible disability. It’s my arms. I’ve had to work very hard for a living – almost nonstop. Welfare was for OTHER single mothers. I never qualified. I’ve been going since I was a kid, typing mostly, and now it hurts just to write this letter to you. This means I also can’t lift, often drop things, have to walk away while typing to let my arms cool down, can’t pull things, and most certainly can not defend myself with a blade and shield. Even if I did want to put on a lot of heavy armor to do something I grew up doing with my friends wearing only jeans and a t-shirt, it’s completely unfeasible to ask me to go out in a field to prove I know how to fight with a sword.

Especially since I have no desire to fight with a sword. I had a very brief, and now completely killed, interest in combat archery. That is dead. In fact, I also had an interest in the bardic arts, and this is currently in ICU. My interest in owning a trebuchet is limited by funds.

I know and understand fully and completely that in combat archery you may face someone holding their wooden weapon. One tap and you’re considered dead, so you have to show that you know how to fall, react, get up, etc. But you have to prove you know how to fight in the field as if you’re participating in heavy combat anyway to be authorized. There’s only one kingdom I’ve heard of that’s, in my opinion, reasonable in their requirements and expect combat archers to prove they know how to die and handle themselves in the field as if they were combat archers. Unfortunately I do not live there.

If you tell me that as a combat archer I would have the right to draw a blade and defend myself in combat, then I’d say, “Then that person, in order to carry a blade, should prove they can fight heavy combat. If they are not authorized for heavy combat but have proven they can act as a combat archer, then they should have no blade.” It’s simple logic.

Here is why it’s a problem for people like me.

Last I checked, there was this disability act that protected people with disabilities. Well I’m not diagnosed – that costs money we don’t have, and when I do go to the doctor I get told to drink water as if it’s some magical cure, but don’t get me started – and even if I were diagnosed, I’m not rolling around in a wheelchair. As I mentioned before, my disability is invisible.

So the subject of combat archery inevitably comes up because my husband, who has been in the SCA since he was 15, really wants me to be able to participate. The conversation then goes like this:

“You have to prove yourself in heavy combat first.”
“Okay, um… I can’t do that.”
“No really. I can’t fight like that. I have problems with my arms.”
“Bullshit. Anybody can do it. No heavy combat, no bow and arrow.”


“We don’t do archery here.”

This is usually followed with, “We do have an A&S area but we don’t really have meetings or do anything active with it. Just let us know when you’ve completed a project so we can report it.” In case you’re used to that statement and find it normal, let me tell you what it really means. “If you want to participate in the SCA but don’t want to fight with a stick, you have your living room.”

At first I only dealt with feelings of frustration. These days while I politely waste my time explaining my condition over and over I’m thinking, “Why don’t you shove your stick up your ass, you damn jock?” Because it’s obvious they have no comprehension of anything else.

It has went so far that I even had to PROVE it to a shire in Louisiana. It was unofficial so I wouldn’t have to wear armor, just three folks hanging out. But we knew what it was, and after the first block with my spear (what I used to fight with as a kid) I couldn’t do anymore. I did try though. Five more times. Just five blocks. That’s what… a tenth of what you get on the field? And after that? I could barely use my arm for a bloody WEEK! Why? Because this attitude is a problem in the SCA that is why.

I’ve also witnessed a woman with claustrophobia being forced to wear maximum armor because the knight said so, all so she could draw a bow. She was nearly hyperventilating in there – but I guess because she simply couldn’t speak up for herself the way women are discouraged in doing she simply took it. I expected her to faint. What if she’d HAD? Wouldn’t THAT have been great for your rulebooks!

This leaves a lot of people out of the game. I do admit that some of my issue here is personal. You guys have your rules – too many of them for me – and you want to be very very safe and very very free of idiots suing you. I get it. That much armor and safety isn’t for me. I wasn’t raised that way, and prefer not to live in a cage of any kind. Or maybe I have too much self esteem. Who knows. But the rest… the SCA seriously needs to put out some sort of education about disabilities and how it’s not always someone in a wheelchair. Sometimes a person genuinely can’t do this thing, and when the thing has no direct bearing on what they want to do there should be a way around the issue – especially when they’re capable of doing what it is they want to do.

And incidentally I can draw a very light weight, child’s bow for a little while. The more I could use my arm like that the better I would get. Yoga also helps. But I’m not going to put myself through a yoga regime to please a bunch of asshats.

So just FYI. As for my husband and I, sure he spent his whole life loving the SCA. But he’s disheartened by fighting this as well. You guys put the boffer people down, but they’re willing to sport bruises. They’re willing to let people like me play. They’re not afraid to get out there and hit hard. I’ve seen them fight harder than anyone I’ve EVER seen fight in the SCA. Most importantly, they won’t require me to be a heavy fighter in order to play with a 10 lb bow. This is my husband’s suggestion. I wanted to keep him in the SCA, and at the time I joined up I thought it would be a great place I could be musical and meet like minds. My bad. It’s not. I’ve only met stick jocks, some of which suggested to my husband that he “ditch the family”, and if this is the SCA… screw it. I have my living room, which is a happier place when I’m not frustrated by the big kids not letting us play.

Thank you again. I’m going back to work now. Have a nice one.