The Fourth Peerage - from a Newbie Archer
- I am writing in response to the post by Master Jean Paul Pierrepont OL OP, that is currently circulating encouraging us to make our opinions heard regarding the "Fourth Peerage".
I am a fairly new member of SCA, having just had my 1 year anniversary in the Society. I can't say that I understand well what the plan for the Fourth Peerage is, but I think I can give you a helpful opinion and suggestions.
I joined a year ago after going to an archery practice to which my two adult children dragged me. I had been curious about the Society since I saw a demo in junior college some 30 odd years before, but didn't know how to get involved, ... not being fighter-material and not being the lady of a fighter. I instantly fell in love with the wonderful people, the camaraderie, the pageantry, historic research, the game and the fun. Finally, some 30 years after that first demo, I joined SCA. My two kids, husband and I are now all Archers.
Why Promote Archery?:
In the year I have been in SCA I have seen more people join as archers than in any other area. That might just be because of my position, but it may also be because Archery is the most accessible way to enter SCA. It costs a lot less and takes less skill than getting armor, getting into A&S, equestrian, rapier, and etc. Anyone off the street can get a tunic, borrow a bow and be a full fledged, functioning SCA member in the shortest time at the lowest cost by becoming an archer. It's a "gate-way" SCA-profession.
As with most organizations, we need new members, we need young members. Most young people can't afford the cost of armor, etc. Most older people don't want to lay out the cash until they know if they will like it. Not so with archer. Archery should be encouraged as a starting point. Once we get them hooked through archery, new members are more likely to spend the big bucks to build/buy armor or learn the skills for other areas. As such we should do everything possible to attract archers and make SCA archery as fun as other areas of SCA.
I recently attended my second Twelfth Night Crown Event. At my first I was in awe and a bit clueless as to the substance of the ceremonies. This year, I had a more firm understanding of the proceedings. As an archer, I felt very left out. I wanted to take a knee and swear my fealty to the new King and Queen, like the fighters did. I wanted to see members of our group elevated and recognized for their contributions and accomplishments like the Knights, Pelicans and the Laurels. I wanted accolades to aspire too. I wanted elite members, publicly recognized by some distinction to revere (like the white belts, and the pelican medallions).
This year at Twelfth Night, one member of my Archery Company was acknowledged as Kingdom Archer, having won the Kingdom tournament. The outgoing Kingdom Archer went back to citizen-at-large, no lasting membership in an elite society, just a "has-been". The other archers wanted to be a part of presenting our champion to Their Majesties in someway. but there was no provision for that. As I sat through court hearing award after recognition being given out, I realized there was no hope for me, as an archer, to ever be a part of this. It was and is discouraging. I looked around the court and realize that almost everyone there who had been in SCA for a couple of years or more was either getting something or already was a peer, except the archers. The archers had nothing to aspire to, no way to participate in court, other than a 1 year reign as Kingdom Archer for winning a tournament that happens once a year.
Archers are Peasants:
Now, I realize that historically the archers were the peasantry, and we embrace and acknowledge our place in history. But, historically, I do not believe there were Pelicans or a peerage for Arts and Sciences either. The archers want to be included and have fun like other groups. We want to have an elite level and/or society to aspire to that is awarded publicly like knights and pelicans. We want to have students or apprentices (or whatever words are chosen) that are under Master archers like Knights have. We want to have elite societies that one can become a member by service and/or skill. We want to look up to our elite members and recognize them by something they wear that is publicly recognizable, similar to the Knights' white belt or the Pelican medallion. We know we are peasants but we want to be full participants of the SCA Game.
No Group Left Behind:
As much as I would advocate for full SCA citizenship for archers, I cannot in good conscious leave out any group. The same kinds of awards, accolades, special societies, pageantry and recognitions should be accessible for all SCA professions: equestrians, rapier, siege, whatever. The names and manner of the awards, special societies and pageantry may change by group but roughly equivalent systems should be obtainable by all SCA members who earn and deserve it.
Suggestions and Help:
Now, I thoroughly believe that one should not criticize without offering useful suggestions and help. One idea that we have for archer recognition is a belt flash, an embroidered or painted cloth rectangle that hangs from the belt that shows the rank. This would be designed such that as an archer moves up the levels (novice, archer...), parts are filled in or added, so the same flash can be used for one person and just modified as he or she moves up. The Barony of Darkwood has a society of the "Hood". Archers are inducted, at court, based on earning the high score at designated tournaments. The members of the "Hood" are given a half black/white hood that they wear to distinguish them. Something similar to this could be formalized for all archers. A formalized way to set-up and operate Archery Companies would be nice too. I have more ideas and would be willing to put in time to help work out the details if my services were desired.
I am still learning how this all works, but this is my take on it.
Your humble servant,
Sibéal Ó Labhradha
Shire of Caldarium, West Kingdom
Well, let us agree to disagree on this issue.
Llywelyn Glyndyverdwy (Mark Cipra)
"When in doubt, end with a jig" - Robin McCauley