Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gulf Wars (a practical breakdown)

So, now that I have provided the literary summary of my GWXXIII experience, I think it's time to talk brass tacks and such about the week-long event as well.

Me during the procession to opening ceremonies at GW23

  • My bag (A)

You can just barelysee the strap of the bag under
 the edge of the tabard. 
This was an overwhelming success! The ability to carry around my base heralding supplies, my mug, a tabard and a my scroll painting kit was critical to my level of enjoyment at the war. I was able to go places and do things back-to-back-to-back without little turnaround and little down time. Also, as you can see in several photos, the bag really doesn't stand out. it's not like I'm backing a US Army ruck sack or a bug-out-bag of nay sort.

The benefits really came to the forefront for me on Wednesday and Thursday of the war, where I was running around all over the place and never had time to make it back to my tent. I was able to go to the thrown weapons range and practice knife throwing. Then I was able to go to heralds point and write down my cries for the morning, and pull on my heralding tabard. Then I was able to go to Herald's point and work there for two hours, and then to scribes point and paint. Then, I headed back to the Green Dragon, where I pulled my mug from the makeshift holder on the bag and nursed down a drink.

It it wasn't for that bag, I would have been picking my activity based on what I could carry at the time. Its not strictly "period", but certainly good enough to not stand out in court, or draw undue attention to itself or me. I'm large enough to sling it around without much problem, and I am looking forward to some customization on it later on.

But I have to say, the raw ability to carry that much stuff at once, in a convenient, period(ish) bag was fully half of why I was able to do as much at gulf as I wanted.

Within the SCA, the bag is getting filed under "Best Christmas present ever!"

  • My Spats (B)

This is another unquestioned win for me. I've long lamented that I am just not going to get historical footwear, I need the support of modern shoes, and I don't have a budget that can afford that for more than a few modern cuts.

That being said, I also hate being historic from the waste up, effectively. I wanted something that would break the lines of the legs, and more or less help hide the fact I'm wearing modern footwear.

The spats worked perfectly for this purpose. I can wear sweats, which are durable, comfortable and cheep, and my shoes, which are essential for me when standing for long periods of time, and not look like I left half my wardrobe at home.

By way of modification, I am going to add a few more grommets to them, but I don't think the overall shape or design is bad at all, and for what they accomplish, they were an excellent addition to my wardrobe.

  • My knives

Yeah, these are a not-so-much entry into my time at gulf wars.

In short, I found out that for a rookie thrower like myself, these blades are ill shaped, too light, and sharp in all the wrong places for me. Not that they are bad knives, but I am probably not doing myself any favors by keeping them as my primary learning tool.

Not giving them up, but might look into investing in something better suited for myself in the near term.

  • My bow

Yes, that is a 74" tall bow you're looking at. 
Okay, this one is disappointment and satisfaction all rolled into one. After we finally got it strung and set up, it became painfully obvious that what should be a respectable 45 pound weapon actually only pulls a modest 30, if that. I won't lie, I am actually rather bothered by this development. But, I still think that as green an archer as I am, there is plenty to learn from this gorgeous looking lightweight before I toss it aside and pick up something heavier.

Shots at 20 yards are solid and consistent (my aiming not withstanding) but 30 is pushing it, and 40 is only doable if an experienced shooter is taking aim, which I am not at the moment.

Still, I am not displeased with the overall kit. I am a rookie shooter, and it certainly has more than enough "oomph" to make the 20 yard line fun. Most competition riflemen get their starts on .22 caliber pop guns learning consistency, ballistics and body position, so I think these are the hidden value of my otherwise unfortunate situation with the bow.

  • The Tent

Yes, the trip to Gulf this year was based out of the black-and-red 18' x 12' marque oval pavilion. Hardly a new addition to my camping situation, but this was its first long-hail pitch is many years.

It stood well and looked awesome. The space allowed for 6 people to camp with relative privacy, and all of their stuff. Wind had no chance, it was solid and well built.

Space! While not as big as some, its one of the larger tents in the SCA, and it still fits a lot of people well, and comfortably.

The thing is hot. Because I don't have the space or energy to properly dry canvas, my wife and I selected a synthetic tent, making it much more resistant to water damage. Good in some respects, but it traps heat like a green house even under modest sunlight.

It leaks. This is really my own fool fault. We need to pitch it and seal the holes that I know about, and I know exactly where to look.

6 individual people is probably too much. Yeah, I can fit 6 people in there, but for long-hauls like gulf, we really should have drawn the line at 5, and done a guys/guys dorm setup, were the walls weren't everywhere. the 6 x 6 cubical thing worked and didn't work, depending on the situation. I'm still glad we did it, but going forward, we definitely will need to rethink how we do that, depending on who's going.

  • Conclusion

For all of the glory and fun that was gulf, and it was a lot of both, there were also a lot of lessons to be taken away from the event, and these are all lessons that I plan to take to heart for future outings.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"


Yolonda Whitworth said...

I am ecstatic the spats worked great, and looked awesome in the pictures. I definitely think next time we do the muslin cut on you, then go from there, but live and learn as we go. One thought I had was to hit them with Scotchguard, making it easier to clean them between events.

Cisco Cividanes said...

Yeah... interesting thing about that. By the end of the war the spats were filthy, covered in dirt and mud and just looked like they had been put through hell and back again.

One trip through the wash, and they look good as new.

Definitely one for the WIN column.