Combat archery within the SCA involves archers firing arrows at armoured combatants. The rules covering combat archery vary by location but generally they only allow low poundage bows and blunt arrows and the archers are generally targets themselves. It's a lot of fun. Think of it as 'medieval paintball'.
The current Society-wide rules require any combat archers to be armoured to Society/Kingdom standards for heavy fighters. Previously, archers were regarded as light fighters. Anyone who doesn't wish to be physically struck can enter the field as a "Non-Contact": to designate this they place a Red Pheon on all four sides of their helm and are considered dead either by a touch of a weapon or by a heavy fighter with a melee weapon coming a certain distance to them (usually 10 feet) depending on each kingdom's law.
Combat Archers are permitted to shoot blunt arrows at both heavy fighters. They use a bow with a maximum poundage of 30lb at 28 inches pull or a crossbow. Crossbow limits vary by Kingdom. All Combat Arrows for SCA (USA) events must have an Anti-Penetration Device or APD which prevents an arrow from entering a standard helm grill if it should strike a fighter after bouncing back or gets flipped in mid-flight. SCA combat crossbows use a draw-to-poundage ratio. Other light combatants use a variety of thrown weapons.
Combat archery battles take various forms:
- One-on-one: One combat archer challenging another. This can be particularly hard if the field of combat is restricted to a small area, e.g. a "bridge".
- Agincourt Run: A row of archers fire on advancing heavy fighters. The fighters win if they get close enough to "kill" the archers.
- Archery Battle: A battle between armies consisting of solely combat archers.
- Mixed Battle: A battle between armies consisting of a wide range of authorised combatants, heavies and archers. All combatants are valid archery targets.
Some kingdoms allow combat archery on rapier battlefields if the marshal-in-charge allows it in the scenario. Most that do allow it limit the number of archers on the field and require that archers also be rapier authorized also. In kingdoms allowing this kind of activity the local marshal in charge of archery may be known as the Captain of the Archers or some other similar title.
Combat Archery in Lochac
Combat Archery has always been popular in Lochac, particularly in use in mixed battles.
The preference is for rabbit blunts to be used for blunt arrows and "non-contact" archers use plumes rather than pheons for identification. These "Light" fighters still have to wear heavy armour as per the Society rules for combat.