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Another amazing Spring Æthelmearc Æcademy and War College transpired this weekend, perfectly hosted by the Shire of Coppertree at a well-equipped Scouting Campground. As part of the War College track, several classes covering different types of martial arts were on the menu, like throwing the Ancient Roman plumbata, throwing axes side arm, as well as fencing, but with a German longsword. Two classes especially stood out this weekend: martial classes who did not only taught how to do the thing, but also discussed the why. Hersir Marek Viachedrago discussed visual calibration during Heavy fights – why did this fighter take the shot, but that fighter did not? – for the non-fighting observer, adding context to fights otherwise mostly only appreciated by those who have done so themselves.

Bjarki instructing Master Robert of Ferness on where and why to anchor your string-hand.

Another martial class I am particularly excited about, and was very happy to be able to take myself, is the “Olympic Archery Fundamentals for Medieval Archery” taught by THLord Bjarki Rikarðarson. After being foiled not once, but twice, in the finals of the Kingdom Archery Championship against Baron Snorri skyti Bjarnarson, our newest member of the Scarlet Guard, I figured I need to up my game! I came away with several tips to work on, but especially, with a number of insights into the mechanics of how bow and body work together I had not previously been aware of, or ever heard being put into visuals and words. I found the class extremely beneficial, and feel any aspiring archer should check it out – I know I will again. Even our teenage archer Simon has practiced at home what he learned in class, wanting to retake it again when he can – and that is quite the compliment!

I asked THLord Bjarki if he could tell us a little more about his ideas behind this class and his SCAdian and mundane experiences teaching archery.

Ælfric the Kestrel from Ealdormere instructing youth Simon á Fjárfelli to line up properly with the target.

Bjarki shared his archery class is a pretty standard class used for introducing people to archery and onto the path of competition shooting (known as Olympic archery style). He was certified as an USA Archery coach/teacher about three years ago. He says: “Some of the local traditional guys mentioned coaching for the YMCA as a side gig and I followed up on that. They put me through the training for it and I spent a handful of my Saturday mornings teaching kids to shoot. Pretty fulfilling to see how excited a 6 to 10 year old gets when they hit the target.

Before that, I’ve been using a bow my entire life. Everything from traditional to compound shooting. I’ve been successfully bow hunting since I was 13.

Ælfric the Kestrel came down from the Kingdom of Ealdormere. He has taken the equivalent course for certification in Canada. Originally, he wanted to come shoot and to see Snorri get inducted into the Scarlet Guard but since the event was all classes, I asked him to assist me with my class. His input was nice because he shoots very differently than I do and shoots well that way.

Detailed instructions can be found here.

I would like to teach this “class” again, but really, anytime I’m on the range I can coach and assist with the knowledge I have. Unofficially, I’ve been giving this class and coaching people in the SCA my entire SCA career. It really makes me happy to give someone advice, see them process it, and then successfully use it to accomplish a goal.”

THLord Bjarki has won archery tournaments, is an archery marshal, and the current Shire of Coppertree’s Captain of the Archers. When you see him on the range, feel free to ask your pointy questions as he clearly loves to enable others into the arts of archery!