By 1990 I had essentially switched from rattan combat to archery as my favourite activity in the SCA. I purchased a 40 pound compound bow (blue and white - not very period-looking) and I practiced with Dave Hann/Conrad weekly at the local archery club. I was slowly getting better and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I purchased a good longbow at Pennsic XX (1991) and I still have it.
Archery is a great sport. I like it because it is truly just you, the bow, the arrow and the target. If you miss, you can only blame yourself... no whining about so-and-so beating you because she practices 18 hours a day. If you hit your target, it feels so RIGHT. I love that feeling of.. flow.. the smooth draw-aim-release-hit that makes the bow feel like a part of your body you've always had but never noticed before.
I've shot a modern compound bow a few times and it feels so.. mechanical. It feels like the pulleys and sights and trigger release and all the other gadgetry sucks the fun right out of it and leaves you like Robocop with a bionic arm. I'm not saying it's not challenging - there is certainly a lot of skill involved with modern archery but it is a game of millimetres, where a "miss" is almost indistinguishable from a hit. It's just not my thing.
Setting up the Advancing Barbarian shoot at Lyndhaven's first event. That's Conrad on the left with me on the right in the blue shirt and dorky hat.
I became an archery marshal so I could officially run archery at Lyndhaven's events. It is not a difficult job but you have to be on your toes to keep things safe. I marshalled at Pennsic a few times and I particularly remember one day when this idiot kid came to shoot with a crossbow and was waving a loaded crossbow around behind the shooting line. I educated him about being safe!
I started fencing later, probably around 1994. Like combat and archery, I got into it intensely for a year or so then gradually lost interest. I was never more than a hacker but it was a lot of fun. I especially liked the group combats. The Bared Blade events in Endewearde (Bangor, ME) were a blast and I thoroughly enjoyed the two or three I went to.
One thing I did get into quite a bit was dancing. It was a fun thing to do at events, didn't take much equipment (beyond a way to produce music) and everyone could join in. Plus a lot of women liked to dance, which was an excellent side (main?) benefit. I started learning dance in 1991 and bought a few books and tapes to learn it better. We set up a weekly dance practice here in the shire that ran for a few years. I ended up running dance at a number of our indoor events and in general I liked it a lot. One of the downsides of conducting dance at events is getting enough men to dance. I understood why - fear of looking foolish and/or not a "manly" activity - but can I just say, "girls"? :)
I learned a lot about English country dancing but I never mastered the more complicated dances like some of the Italian dances. Even today I could tell you the steps for Hole In The Wall or the Gae Gordon. I've found myself humming dance tunes when I'm walking my baby son around!
I did some cooking in the SCA but only at a basic level. I did the cooking for two of our local events that I can remember, and they worked out pretty well. No disasters, anyway!
I'll talk about the service I did (as seneschal, exchequer and so forth) in another entry.
So... fighting to archery to fencing with dancing and cooking along the way. Not too bad.