Posted by: wrmcnutt | June 22, 2010

Tournament Victory – A Guy Could Get Used To This


Disclaimer: Presented for solely for your entertainment, and not at all for my own personal aggrandizement.  Really.  Oh, and this is the best I can remember.  If you were there, you might remember it a bit differently.  Corrections of fact are eagerly accepted.  Especially since I was largely facing the other way and had to interpret what my worthy opponents were doing by the sound of it.

So I was packing for this Lilies War, and my eyes chanced to light upon the eight custom-made arrows I won as a tourney-prize a couple of years back.  In all the time I had had them, they had never missed. Of course, I’d never used them.  But they have still never missed.

The evening of day three of the War, I arrived back in camp to be advised by my bride that a very pretty squire had been by looking for me and I was asked to call upon Her Majesty of Meridies at my earliest convenience. It’s not often I’m summoned to the Royal Presence, so as soon as I dealt with the vital business of locating a fortifying malt-beverage I hastened to the Royal Camp.

As I had already eaten, I was forced to decline their generous hospitality, and we proceeded to business.  The Kingdom of Calontir, our host, was sponsoring a Lady of the Rose archery tournament. Each Lady of the Rose was encouraged to sponsor a single archer in the tournament.  Her Majesty asked if I would accept the honour of representing her.  By mischance, I had brought my long-disused target tackle and could be prepared to shoot in two days time.

To be fair to her, I offered her Majesty a cautionary note:  most of the things I shoot at these days are wearing a helm, running at me, and screaming for my head.  My target shooting skills were more than a little rusty.  But if she was willing to accept me as her champion under those conditions, I would be honoured to participate in the shoot.

I had planned to scoot up to the target range, purchase a shooting glove, and get some practice in the next day, but was seduced by the warm summer breezes and French wines and cheeses down at the beach, and somehow never managed to hit the target range that day.  The next day, though, the shoot was to be at 1:00 PM.  While there was no chance of getting “back in practice” with just a couple of hours shooting, I could at least knock the worst of the rust off.

My goal was not to win, merely not to embarrass myself and my Queen.  With that in mind, I showed up at the archery range a couple of hours early.  There was an IKAC shoot going on, but Calontir range protocol will allow other people to use the range during an IKAC shoot, so long as they are willing to conform to the shoot format:  shoot from the required ranges, shoot for speed, etc.  To my horror, but as I expected, my first end was inauspicious.  I put two arrows into the backstop, two into the butt, and only two into the target.  Forty five minutes later, things were looking up, and my groupings merely looked like a novice’s,and  not a blind man’s.

They closed the range and began the setup for the Rose Tourney.  This was to be interesting, and unique in my experience.  Like a heavy fighting tournament, each “bout” would be shot head-to-head against a single opponent.  The shoot would use knockdown targets.  I was relieved to see that the range was a mere twenty yards. The line marshal would count down to zero, cry loose, and we were to knock an arrow, aim, and shoot.  The first person to knock down the target won the round, and his Rose would advance to the next bracket of the tournament.  The tournament would be single-elimination, so one missed arrow, and I, and my Queen, would be out.  No pressure or anything. . .

Another concern:  I only had eight arrows.  The Calontiri archers strutting about me had quivers of twelve, eighteen, and twenty.  My imagination immediately conjured the picture of me missing the target with all eight shots and having to stand there, like a sap, while my opponent knocked me out in a leisurely fashion with his ninth arrow. One final concern” apparently, Her Majesty and I were the only outsiders participating.  Our opposition was a solid wall of Calontir Purple and Gold.  All of whom appeared to be wearing archery themed awards on their belts.

Not that that’s intimidating or anything.

As the moment for the initial round approached, the Ladies of the Rose gathered comfortably under a sun shade, a tray of sweetmeats and rosewater lemonade at hand.  We, their champions, begged some shade from a bystander and had a water jug labeled “Bring your own drinking vessel.”  And thus were we called forth, to meet before the assembled crowd.  Each lady bespoke her champion briefly, some providing their archer with a small token.  And then, Master Andrixos of Calontir was called forth to champion his Lady.  His voice rang out.

“Though my arrows, through lack of use, may falter, my love for you will never do so.”

A resounding “awww . . . .” filled the air.

A few more pairs were called.  My moment was coming close.  And I couldn’t just let that sit there unanswered.  Now, I do not know my Queen well enough to presume such sentiments.  But I have been coming to Lilies for ten years now, and my face and voice are not unknown to the locals.

“Shooting for Her Magesty Elisinda of Meridies, Master William McNaughton.”

“Your Majesty, know this:  though golden falcons may soar high above the clouds, Silver Stars fly higher still.”

This is what we on the archery range call “smack-talk,” and is generally intended for the entertainment of the gallery, and isn’t taken seriously.  Her Majesty laughed, and I got some “ooh – a tough guy” commentary from the crowd.  The Herald called for the first pair, and we were off!

My first opponent was a young man who couldn’t have been much older than fourteen years old, and was clearly nervous.  I felt for him.  If I did this right, he wouldn’t get to shoot a single arrow.  But I certainly wasn’t going to wait on him.  I selected the right lane, where I would remain undistracted by my opponent.  We took our ready stance, and the marshal counted down.

“Thwap!”  I couldn’t believe it.  Not only had I knocked down the target with my first arrow, I’d hit it dead center.  My opponent had not been able to shoot.  I was extremely flattered to run into his brother later who said, “He said he didn’t even see you move.  He just heard the marsh cry ‘loose’ and then heard your arrow hit!”  Trust me, I’m not the incarnation of the Flash and the Green Arrow.  He was just more nervous, and I was more experienced.

I took a moment and bespoke her Majesty.  “I guess we don’t get to go back to camp and drink beer yet.  Sorry. . .”  She laughed and said that was all right.

I believe that my next opponent was the man with no pants.  At his introduction to his Lady, he said that, just for her, he was shooting in his underwear.  Clearly, there was some history there, or an inside joke of which I was unaware.  His tabard, however, had a crescent moon pierced with an arrow.  Nothing is quite as intimidating as shooting against a guy whose household theme is clearly archery.  We both hit the target, but I got the arrow loose faster.

My third opponent was a crossbowman, and grim of visage.  The format of the shoot had been modified to balance the advantages of crossbow and recurve.  The crossbowmen were to cock and lock.  Then both archers would put bolt or arrow behind their heads and, on the cry “loose,” the crossbowman would knock, aim, and loose.  The recurve bowman would knock, draw, aim, and loose. This was to offset the advantage crossbowmen have on the first shot.  I’m not sure what happened to him, but he missed cleanly, and I did not.

At this point, I was past delighted.  My goal had been not to embarrass myself or my Queen.  I’d met that goal, and to my utter shock and surprise, was entering the quarter-finals.  I again approached the Ladies of the Rose enclosure, and Her Majesty said that in the future she would be giving my disclaimers little weight.

My opponent in the semi-finals was a greybeard, and fierce of mien.  Another crossbowman, his tackle was well-worn, but meticulously maintained.  He’d clearly been shooting for a very long time. And yes, he was fast. It was in this bout that I caught my first real lucky break:  on the command “loose,” he caught his prod (bow arms) in his sleeve.  The half-second he took to free it was enough time for me to get my shot off.

The final bout was to be best two-out-of-three.  Though my opponent was in her late teens, she was packing a top-of-the-line Mongolian horse bow, and had shot her heart out all afternoon.  In point of fact, while I had had a couple of misses along the way, not detailed here, she had not.  In our first bout, I barely managed to eke out a victory.  She missed, and I hit my target within a quarter inch of the top.  The second round was even more nerve-wracking.  I missed, and cleanly.  But I didn’t hear the thwap of my opponent’s arrow hitting the target.  I didn’t bother to look, but drew a second arrow.  And missed again. But still no noise from the other lane.  I reached for a third arrow.  Which I also put into the backstop.

“Thwap!”  My opponent had knocked down her target.  The score was now 1 – 1, and the final result of the tournament would depend on a single arrow.  We took our positions, raised our arrows, and the Marshal began the countdown once again.  “Three  . . .  Two . . .  One . . . loose!

I shot, and my final target fell.  I, who had begun the morning with the goal of not embarrassing myself, had finished as champion of the day.  Well how about that?  I could get used to this feeling.

There was a brief ceremony where I was presented with a giant pile of swag.  The Calontiri are generous to their champions.  I got two hand-made flagons of differing designs, a hand-made wooden box, two different types of trim, a unique stained-glass hanging, a basket to carry it all, a book of hours, a blank diary, two scarves, a steel ground hangar, and a throwing knife.  That big a pile of swag should be shared, so I presented my most worth opponent in the finals with a drinking flask, a roll of trim, and the personal token the Queen had given me as her champion.  Um . . .  ooops.  I was able to recover that later.  My opponent was very gracious in returning said token to me.

The only real downside to this is that I’m still gloating, and it’s not very attractive.  I had to run right off and tell my friend Dan about it.  He, of course, went on the next day to win the parent/child shoot.

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Responses

  1. Very nice! It sounds like it was a great shoot. So are we ever going to see you down on the range at a Meridian shoot?

    And I certainly know what you meet about that wall of Calontir archers. They are an intimidating presence on the range at Gulf Wars as well.

    • Oh – I imagine. I used to get down there all the time, before I started fighting heavy. I need to get back to it.

  2. Well, congrats. You did Her Majesty and the Kingdom proud.

    Did you finally share a cold, adult beverage with HRM?

  3. I enjoyed this. What’s more, I can hear your voice and see your facial expressions as I read it, LOL.

    Only one tiny thing, though. You really need to find some other word to use besides “tackle.” I know you mean archery equipment and accoutrements (“accoutrements” is a nice word, don’t you think?), but when you’re judging men by the appearance of their tackle–and one is in his underwear–well, the mind starts to wander a bit.

    • Actually, archery “tackle” is a fairly old modern term. I think it dates from the late 1800’s, but I’m not sure.

  4. Congrats! I’m so happy for you 🙂

  5. Again, Congratulations!! As Ronan says, “Everyone has a good day now and then!” Hopefully you can spare a moment sometime on the field to join us and see if you can find another “Good Day”.

  6. congrats! and the Silvers stars fly higher line is GREAT!

  7. Some notes:

    The “man in his underwear” was Lord Treutvin, shooting for Duchess Cadfael, the drivign force behind this shoot.

    There is, appropriately, no archery award hanging from my belt.

    Countess Fionna wishes me to point out that the normal format of the shoot is double elimination, but due to the heat the agreement was to shorten it to single.


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