On a monthly basis, members of the Society for Creative Anachronism share their knowledge in Copperas Cove through classes at the library.
Last weekend at Camp Arrowhead at Fort Hood, the SCA Barony of Bryn Gwlad held the Commander’s Crucible.
About 200 SCA members of all ages gathered in the natural setting, erecting their tents, polishing their armor and readying their weapons.
Archers practiced hitting traditional targets or a board covered with confetti eggs — for the Easter holiday.
Others engaged in more docile pursuits, such as cooking, spinning yard or weaving cloth on a hand-made loom.
The SCA royalty watched the proceedings from the comfort of their thrones.
Wendy Marsh, of Copperas Cove, gave a class on cooking in cast iron dutch ovens, even having an ancient Roman-style clay equivalent to use in the demonstration. She created her own tinder to make the fire, as well.
Meanwhile, her husband, Copperas Cove Public Library director Kevin Marsh was attired in his garb and a fencing mask, awaiting a turn in the rapier melee.
Adam Ortiz, of Cove, brought his 11-month-old English mastiff, Bear, to the gathering, along with his wife and son, Thomas, 7. “This is our first event,” Adam Ortiz said. “We wanted to try it out.”
While Ortiz is still recovering from breaking his arm in November, he looks forward to possibly participating in the fighting at some future point.
Katrina O’Keefe, of Round Rock,serves the barony as “hospitaler” or mistress of hospitality. She’s been in the SCA for over 20 years and is keeper of much knowledge.
The Kingdom of Ansteorra — or One Star -—covers most of Texas and Oklahoma, O’Keefe explained. The Barony of Bryn Gwlad is the local chapter, based in Austin. The shire of Hellsgate covers the Killeen, Fort Hood and Temple area.
How people come to the SCA varies. Colin Darby, of Lampasas, works at Fort Hood and has been a SCA member for two years. He likes to participate in the heavy fighting “when my knee is working.”
Darby finds the SCA very satisfying in a way his real life isn’t. “It’s very black and white. There’s not a lot of grey when somebody’s trying to hit you in the head,” he said with a laugh.
The organization is international, with a new group recently formed in China, according to O’Keefe. They’ve even reached into outer space, with a sticker bearing the barony’s crest affixed to the International Space Station by a NASA astronaut who spent time there.
There’s also a humanitarian side to the SCA. O’Keefe recalled how, after Hurricane Harvey hit in August, the barony’s disaster relief team headed south to Houston, helping people in the recovery process.
The SCA activities have managed to create a niche market for those who wish to have their garb or chainmaille specially made. Factoring in the supplies and the time to make a chainmaille shirt, for instance, “I can pay someone to do that for me,” O’Keefe said.
For Anelia Fairfield, of Cove, it’s been about finding new friends. “I’ve always enjoyed medieval stuff.”
She enjoys learning how things were done in the days of yore, and had a chance to help make the sausage which would be served at the weekend’s banquet. She even brought her card weaving to the festivities.
“I came for the cool stuff and stayed for the people,” Fairfield said. “It’s great associating with people who have like-minded interests.
The fighting is a big part of the SCA but, as Capt. William Willett, of Fort Hood, has discovered in his 17 years being part of the group, “It’s a good release from the real world, a good way to get away.”
The fighting does have rules and regulations, O’Keefe acknowledged. “We don’t want to injure anyone,” she said, smiling. “We just want to kill them properly.”