Robin's deadly eye Robin's deadly eye

September Missive


For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the Kingdom Youth Armored Combat Marshal. It’s my job to oversee, support, and promote armored youth combat in Northshield.

Yes, we do have a youth combat program in Northshield. We have nine full marshals, nine marshals-in-training, and a few folks who are waiting for their background checks to clear before starting the process. Most of the youth combat programs are in the baronies, but some of the nonbarony groups also have regular practices. The numbers are constantly changing, but we typically have between thirty and fifty authorized and un-authorized youth fighters in the Kingdom at the moment. (Since the fighters are separated by age groups, and since kids keep getting older, each one needs to reauthorize every few years to stay active.) It’s worth noting that, as many kids we have fighting, we have as many adults who are authorized to spar with them at practices. (Commercial: If adults want to participate in the youth combat program, as either marshals or fighters, please contact me. I can put you in touch with local resources, or help you out myself. Heavy fighters, there’s an authorization specifically so that you can spar against youth fighters under certain conditions. I can get you set up there, as well.)

We try to make participation as simple and welcoming as possible. Youth Armored Combat is open to any youths 6-17 years old who have a parent present and have the necessary gear. Participants do not have to have prior experience. As with any SCA martial activity, combatants will have to complete an authorization to compete in any tournaments. However, unlike their adult counterparts, many events with youth combat activities include some time for training and practice so that the kids can get authorized before the tournament begins. Also, many events list their youth combat opportunities as practices so unauthorized fighters can take part. At any event or practice, we will have some limited loaner gear and weapons to try out, though it’s helpful for children to have their own head protection (a hockey helmet or equivalent) and their own groin protection as appropriate for their age group. Depending on numbers and availability, some fighters may need to share loaner gear.

All fighters are required to have a waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian that day. If the fighter is not authorized or has never done this before, they and their parents must receive a brief (5-10 minute) orientation before the youth can take part. 
Any event which includes youth combat has time for orientation built in, usually during inspections and authorizations, but a marshal will be happy to run through it at any time. The full set of rules for YAC can be found in the Kingdom of Northshield Youth Combat Handbook (
pdf). All Division 1 Youth Armored combatants MUST have a parent or legal guardian present at the list field when fighting. Parents of Division 2 and 3 fighters need to be on site or have the appropriate paperwork to designate another guardian during that activity.

Some of the tournaments the kids can participate in are straightforward, such as the Standard Tournament they did at the most recent Warriors and Warlords – a plain double-elimination tournament with no special victory conditions. Others are more complicated, such as the Crestfallen Tournament in which a combatant can only be killed if their opponent knocks the stuffed animal off of their helmet. (And you thought duct tape was just for repairs!) There are sometimes fancy prizes, such as the reward of pie (from the Four-And-Twenty-Blackbird Bearpit), stuffed animals (the usual prize from the Crestfallen Tournament or Teddy Bear Bearpit), or pieces of armor (lately, the grand prize from Kittens and Lava). Kittens and Lava deserves its own special mention – youth fighters participate in a real-life video game, jumping from rock to rock in a field of lava, rescuing kittens and other small animals from a fiery fate. The lava path is guarded by a fierce creature, often a dragon, who tries to defeat the fighters. The marshals sometimes change the rules to force the kids to think strategically, to work as part of a team, or to triumph over personal adversity, and the part of the dragon is played by an adult or an older youth fighter. Recently we have also used this game as a fundraiser, and donated the proceeds to the Background Check fund and to the animal rescue program Wisconsin Wildlife.

Every once in a while someone will ask why I spend so much time on the youth field when those energies could be spent furthering my advancement (or at least trying to) on the heavy field. As with so many areas of the SCA, I respond with stories. I tell them about the kids who start the day hiding behind their parents’ legs, eventually emerging to win the day and get carried back to camp because they were too tired to walk back. I talk about the children of knights, who share tactics that come from watching their parents on the field. I talk about teenagers who take time from their chores to bring their younger siblings or campmates, who split their time between learning and teaching, eventually graduating to the adult heavy and rapier fields. All of us who are marshals for this program have these stories and are happy to tell them.

The children are our future. I think we have a lot to look forward to.

In service,


Other missives from the Kingdom Youth Armored Combat Marshal
Posted by: Abelard die Elster Kingdom Youth Armored Combat Marshal on 8/29/2023

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