Archery range at War of the Trillium 2014. Photo courtesy

One of the most important skills throughout the timeframe that we recreate, archery was used for hunting, practice, and especially war. Archery played an important role in many a battle and many cultures depended upon their innovative and skilled archers for defense as well as a means of conquest.

In the Society, we offer options to participate in both target archery and combat archery!

Target Archery

In order to be as true to times as possible we try to use materials and methods available to period archers. This includes a focus on natural materials such as wood and feathers in our bows and arrows. Some modern types of equipment like compound bows, are not allowed in our archery activities to keep the playing field more level and medieval.

Boat-shaped targets, War of the Trillium 2014. Photo courtesy

In addition to the traditional target archery competitions where points are scored by shooting at a bullseye, the competitions for target archery are often designed to mimic situations faced by medieval archers. These might include 3-D or 2-D animal targets set at unknown ranges to demonstrate hunting prowess. Alternatively, a set of targets might be made to represent the slots on a fortress, the objective being to try to shoot the “archers” within the walls of a fortification under siege. Novelty targets will sometimes be encountered; blow out a candle with an arrow without hitting the candle itself, hit your target paddle to trip a swinging bar to block your opponent’s paddle from falling before they can shoot it, or get the best poker hand by skill or luck.

Archery targets, Ealdormere War Practice, 2003. Photo courtesy of

Combat Archery

Baron Cynred (front left) was a combat archer. Ealdormere War Practice 2001. Photo courtesy

Combat archery is more complicated and challenging than target archery, because your targets are all moving independently – and some of them may be shooting back at you or coming at you with a weapon of their own! Be assured, you will be using low-powered bows and you will be adequately armored, similarly to your opponents. The low power of the bows makes them much safer to use, and the design of the arrows and crossbow bolts ensures maximum safety, while still allowing your armored opponent to know they have been hit. The battle field may be a flat area of grass, ranged across the woods, or even an assault on a fortification, and ranges may be from point blank to as far as you can cast your arrow, all in the name of realism and the chaos of battle as experienced by our ancestors in ages long ago.

Thrown Weapons

Thrown weapon targets, War of the Trillium 2017. Photo by David Gotlieb.

In addition to the target competition found in archery, we also recreate additional target weapons styles. At many Society events, you can find opportunities to try throwing common medieval weapons such as axes, knives, and spears, all in a safe, monitored environment.

Throwing atl atls at Bonfield Battle, 2002. Photo courtesy of

[Text from SCA Newcomer’s Portal.]