Protective equipment worn by armored combatants during tournament, melee or practice. Marshals inspect armor before each use to determine whether the participant is safely armored. Some SCA members very much prefer to spell this word armour after the British fashion. One of the early pioneers in armoring was Sir Polidore Haraldsson, who has since retired from the SCA.
The goal of most participants is to obtain and wear armor that is not only safe and comfortable to wear but also presents an appearance of historical authenticity. That is, it makes the wearer appear as close as possible like the historical model he or she prefers.
For many participants, it is not quite enough even to appear authentic. They prefer that every piece of armor be properly constructed like the historical artifact it resembles, and for all the leather harness, padding and clothing worn with it to be as much like historical examples as the participant can arrange.
Cost, practicality and the limits of knowledge about some armor construction types can play a role in delaying or frustrating the ambitions of participants.
Armor which is safe and adequate but not particularly historically authentic is referred to as sport armor. Plastic gear, adapted hockey or football equipment and constructed pieces of metal armor based on no particular historical model are all in this category. Participants who chose this gear often cover it with cloth tabards or surcoats to conceal the inauthenticity. Such armor is not always chosen because of cost, but because of perceived advantages in weight and comfort.
Armor which is built to resemble historical models, but without appropriate embellishment and perhaps with compromises made for expense is known as munition-grade armor.
Armor which is made according to higher standards to resemble historical models is known as reenactment-grade armor.
Equipment of all these types is often fairly difficult and expensive to obtain. Someone skilled with tools or fortunate enough to know someone who is may be able to construct all of their armor, perhaps to very high standards of authenticity, and some participants pride themselves in their ability to do this, or simply cannot obtain what they want from a merchant. Many members of the SCA manufacture armor for others. Skilled artisans of this type often have long waiting lists and charge high prices. Larger armories exist, as well. Waiting lists for anyone making custom armor or standard pieces is common. Equipment ready to be sold is likely to be munition-grade.
A beginning armored combatant is not expected to have historically authentic armor when they begin. Even an impecunious college student can usually assemble adequate kit without too much expense if they are prepared to make their own, borrow or buy used equipment, and make initial compromises.
Types of Armor
Most Middle Kingdom participants seem to prefer armor of the 14th and 15th centuries. 13th century equipment is also seen, and so is Roman imperial gear. Less common are the elaborate armors of the 16th century or serious attempts at 11th century and before, other than Roman. A dedicated minority of combatants like Japanese armor, and one MidRealm knight fights in Aztec gear. A complete survey of types is beyond the scope of this article, but some of the most common pieces are noted below with links to separate articles.
Arming doublet, Arm harness, Aventail, Back-and-breast, Barbute, Barrel helm, Bascinet, Basket hilt, Breastplate, Brigandine, Buckler, Camail,Chain mail, Cheater heater, Chinstrap, Coat-of-plates, Coif, Cop, Courbouille, Crest, Cuisse, Duct tape, Elbow cop, Gambeson, Gauntlet, Gorget, Greave, Grille, Half-gauntlet, Harness, Hauberk, Heater, Helm, Helmet, Kidney belt, Knee cop, Lame, Lanyard, Leg harness, Mail, Maille, Mantle, Nasal, Ocularia, Phrygian helm, Plate, Pot helm, Rerebrace, Sallet, Scutum, Shield, Shield cosy, Strapping tape, Sugarloaf helm, Targe, Tasset, Vambrace.