Yngve trötts huntingcompetition

emil smyger In concert with Söderköpings Gästabud there is a very popular contest being held.
This is the ‘Yngve Trötts Bågskyttetävling” (Yngve The Tireds archer-competition). This year it had opened up to all medieval projectiles (maybe it was before, but this year it was pronounced). The competition is in the form of a hunt-trail. It is therefore, to my knowledge the only big event actually doing ‘medieval hunting’ in Sweden. It is a very popular competition, having 60 participators from the whole of Europe. Some even travelled here from Iceland, and it usually takes a lot to lure the Icelanders of their island.

So, me and Emil, of course, had no other choice but to pack our javelins and sally forth to glory and odd animal-hunting!

We travelled light, only carrying what was needed and hoping to get covered by our friends tents in case of rain. The Town of Söderköping is very old, the street of Vintervadsgatan having had the same stretch for 1000 years. It was once a centre of commerce in the area of Östergötland (Eastgothia).

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Our six man group: Annie, Suleyman, Johan, Martin, Miriam and Emil. Boudica is photobombing, as usual.

But, back to the event.
The hunt-trail consisted of 22 targets in rather steep terrain. We went out around 10 in the morning and was not back until 5 hours later. We where divided into groups of about 5 or 6. Me and Emil was the only ones not using a bow. We didn’t really have any expectations of getting any points that would put us in the upper field of the points-roosters as the course was set for bows and not javelins. But we did get the permission to go closer if needed when the distance was to long. At each target you fired two missiles. If you hit it with the first one, you got ten points. If you missed and hit it with the second, five. So you could get ten, five or zero points on each target (some had special rules…).

The weapons had to be medieval in both design and making and so was the archers clothes and other gear (or.. in many cases.. medieval-ish) .

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Annie searching for misplaced arrows

The missiles had to stick to the target, they where not to fall off OR to go straight through. Other than that, it was just hit or miss that counted. Where you hit it was of no interest. After that, came the searching of arrows….

Out on the trail!

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Gollum, his fishes and an orc stealing them! Emils spear in the stream missed the party.

During the years this competition have had some different themes. This was reflected by the plethora of diverse targets we encountered out on the trail. There where some regular boring animals, like badgers and boars, 20140830_131640 but also Drollerie animals in the style of the Lutrellpsalter and good old favourites like the killer rabbit from Monty Python and Lord of the Rings characters.

Our apprehension about the distance to the targets where soon abated. The targets where often well inside javelin-distance, and especially if you got to move a bit so you got the steadier footing needed to throw. We did not move more then absolutely necessary to be able to throw though. Making the long distances for the archers, very long distances for javelins. But sometimes we had to cut the distance in half just to have a  chance to be able to throw at all. Some, like a shot over the canal, was not even to think about. But in general, I think that the targets were well placed and that we had a decent chance to partake with our javelins. Some targets where even easier with javelin than bow, so I guess it kinda evened out a bit.

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On the trail (Photo by Annie Rosén)

We mostly throw javelin in the best conditions. Level ground, we choose the distance, the target is not obscured. Throwing it in the field is something else. The ground was never even, it was always uphill or downhill. Sometimes even so steep you where throwing from above the targets. The footing was perilous and there where seldom room to throw with the whole body. It was a very good experience, and very educating. I found myself over and over thinking “what did I just do? That’s not how you throw a javelin”. And then I did it again… and again. One might say I was a bit off my game and one might be right. That I had just re-shafted the spears and not had time to practise with them before I started might also count into the mix… But these are excuses, the sad truth is that I SHOULD have hit several more targets then I did. I just wasn’t good enough. Most throws went low and short. Probably I tried to throw AT the target when I had to adjust for distance and aim ABOVE. This is something I learned for one thing. I also learned that bows are vastly superior as hunt-weapons compared to javelins, and this helped me to convince me that my theory about its uses holds water, so far.

The targets
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Miriam with a good tailhit on one of the drolleritargets (Photo by Annie Rosén)

The targets where handmade from the same things floaters for swimming pools are made of (like poolnoodles and their flat compadres of the water) and then coated and painted. They where very good and sturdy for targets. The range was, as said before very imaginative and fun to see, giving the whole event a loose and fun atmosphere.

At the end of the competition there is traditionally a target for long distance shooting (100 meters =109 yards). Evidently there used to be a mounted knight as target, but since no one managed to hit that, they choose to have a live size elephant this year..  (that they did hit).  But as 98 meters is the current world record for javelins, we didn’t think it worth to partake on that target…

After the competitions the elephant was taken into the camp and had, of course, its trunk 20140831_121841_Richtone(HDR)turned into a beer hose. Just like they would have done in 14:the cent.

Our thoughts about the event

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Fieldrabbittarget. All rabbits that fell down counted for 5 points. But if you hit Gerorge the ermine, you got zero.

We think it was a very well run event. Even if we, lazy buggers that we are, had not given much effort to gather information, we easily got in on everything and got all the information we needed, when we needed it. Its not easy to have 60 people running around in the woods shooting at stuff, but the group system (that built on trust, as each group counted their own points) worked very well. Clumping together of groups is usual in these things, but it rarely happened once the filed was getting spread out over the trail. The targets was smart, fun and well placed. The difficulty seemed well-balanced and the special targets (moving ones, special rules ones and so on) added spice so it did not get repetitive.

The organisers was very friendly and welcoming. You really felt that they where glad to have you there, this also set an atmosphere of fun and of not taking things to seriously, witch is always refreshing in competitive events.

And how did it go?
The best got 220 points. I got 45.

/ Johan

Something more about Javelins?
see our little film.

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The Manuscript Challenge: A boar hunters outfit.

This post is about the making of my new outfit, my answer to The Manuscript Challenge. I’ve done an interpretation of the dog-handler in a boar hunting scene from “Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio”, the King Modus manuscript from ca 1370.

I admit that this outfit is well within my comfort zone and not very different from what I already have in terms of gear. But I like how it looks, it fills a gap in my wardrobe and I thought that it could be fun to interpret something exactly from a picture in my favourite medieval hunting book. In this way I can be sure that what I’m wearing are things that are meant to go together and hopefully well suitable for the activity depicted.

1797515_10152160197582765_4688588845508775182_nAs you can see, this hunter is wearing a tight liripipe hood (the making of it is described in detail here) and matching hoses with fashionably pointy toes. Like many hunters on foot during this period, he is not wearing any shoes. That might lead us to suspect the hoses being soled with leather. Tiny stripes on the horn suggest that it could be carved decoratively and the thin baldric is crossed below the waist. He is also wearing a thin black belt.

The hunters blue kirtle is very well fitted and buttons down the front, probably also on the sleeves. It has a generous cut over the chest to achieve the masculine Gothic ideal, a muscular “dove-chest” contrasting the narrow waist and straight fit over the hips. The kirtle on my manuscript picture reaches to mid thigh where it ends with a softly dagged edge.

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To short and to tight!

I made the pattern myself, fitting my toille in front of the mirror. Being a bit to eager to get started, I made two stupid mistakes. Firstly, I didn’t take any pictures of this step of the making. Secondly, when I had stitched the kirtle together and dagged the bottom edge, all by hand, I realised that I had cut it to short and a bit to tight to begin with. I looked stupid with my breeches (linnen underwear) showing to much and it would be hard to do any hunting with dignity in such a tight kirtle. (Admittedly, I have no ambitions of really doing any real hunting or anything requiring dignity at all. But I’d prefer if it didn’t show to much. 😉 )

I had to insert a gore in the middle back to expand the fit over the hips. The first dagged edge was sacrificed. I cut it off so that I could add an extra piece of fabric, following the lines of the pattern and lengthening the whole garment about 25 cm. When that was done, I had to re-do the dagged edge, now wider. All this was about three extra days of work, re-doing things I knew I should have done from the start. In the end I had a kirtle that was a slight bit longer than I had planned in the first place, but it looked very much like my original picture.IMAG2278IMAG2279It is bitter and tedious work, mending up a mess you’ve made yourself. But once I got the length right, I celebrated my victory by turning my attention to things I actually enjoy doing: details like buttons, buttonholes and pretty edges. The thin woad blue twill was a dream to work with and I hand stitched everything with silk or waxed linnen thread.

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Curvy cut over the chest and a pretty tablet woven edge in silk.

A strip of linnen lining the inside and a tablet woven edge on the outside strengthens the buttonhole edges. I used silk yarn in the same woad-blue for the weft and ended up with 63 buttonholes all in all. 10 in each sleeve and 43 down the front. The buttons themselves look like little blueberries…

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Slowly getting there, still a few more buttons to go…

The kirtle is deliberately cut with a light curve over the chest and has medium size “grand assiette”-sleeves with a gore inserted over the shoulder in the back. This allows for maximum freedom of movement in arms and shoulders but still gives a nice tight fit. I also added a small standing collar because I like how it looks. It doesn’t show on my manuscript-picture because of the hood, but low collars like this one are seen on other pictures in King Modus.

Egen1I finished the whole kit just in time for an event this past weekend. I’m so happy with how it turned out, but also surprised by the princely 10479940_10152625157110708_7587428764304000842_olook it gives me. The kirtle look so much more glamorous than I expected! But as I’ve worn and torn it during this weekends adventures, it starts to feel more like me.

Johan carved the horn that I carried with the rest of the outfit. I love how it is decorated with winding bands of wine leafs, happy hares and playful greyhounds. It has got a characteristic smell of tar, beeswax and gunpowder that I wouldn’t mind having as a personal signature scent.

I made a simple thin baldric for my horn but have already started to work on a larger and wider one to be more elaborately decorated, in the style of Livre de Chasse. (More on hunting horns is hopefully coming in a later post.)

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Photo: Annie Rosén

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Photo: Annie Rosén

So this is it for my first manuscript challenge. It was fun and intense to make the outfit, all hand stitched and with extreme attention to every detail. Slightly challenging to correct my mistakes by enlarging the pattern for the kirtle at such a late stage and lots of extra work, but not very difficult.

I find it stimulating to work towards a tight deadline with a very clear picture of where you are going, so the manuscript challenge suits me very well. But now when I’m done with it, I think I’ll want to start over again with a new picture of a hunter in another manuscript and go for something harder for my next attempt…

Rather close, don’t you think? If you like my work, please let me know. If you like the dog or her chain-mail collar more, do tell Johan who let me pose with her, and not me. 😉

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  • Estimated time to make this hand sewn kirtle: + 80 h
  • Material needed: Blue twill wool, ca 1,70 meters, plus scraps of unbleached linnen. Sewing thread in silk and linnen, beeswax. The 63 buttons was made of leftover cloth. I had all the material at home when I started.
  • Total cost to make: ca 400 sek / 40 eur

Javelin practise

A hot summers day Johan, Helena and I went out to practise with our javelins. If you want to see how it went and hear about our conclusions, don’t miss out on Johans short film.

We could not have wished for better weather for our expedition, this is Swedish summer at it’s best. But with a temperature on about 25 – 30 °C in the sun (77 – 86 °F), you have to think both on what you choose to wear and on how you behave while you are out in period clothing. It is wise to go for thin and loosely fitted garments, as always with linnen underneath and a layer of wool on top, allowing air to flow between the different layers and keeping you dry. Also make sure to protect your head and neck from the sun. Stay in the shadow if you can and drink plenty of water. If you do so, the heat will not trouble you much.

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Happy hunters heading out on a lovely summers day.

My choice of outfit – a straw hat and a simple green kirtle was inspired by these illuminations from Livre de Chasse. I really like the relaxed look of the man with the straw hat, wearing his hoses rolled down. I’d love to elaborate further on what we are wearing but we will get back to the details of our gear another day, in a post about the medieval hunters equipment.

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I like the relaxed look of this boar-hunter with straw hat and rolled down hose!

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A limer wearing a straw hat and a simple green kirtle just like mine.

Telling the dog of on our way out.

Telling the dog of on our way out.

Our targets, one still and one moving.

Our targets, one still and one moving.

I was looking forward to test my new javelin and to work on my technique. You have to aim good and true of course, but for me it is also about getting the throw more explosive  – simply to throw harder.

Today we used two targets for our practise, one of them moving – a piece of a tree trunk suspended in the height of a deer or the like. For practising explosive throws, the tree itself will do fine. For better aim, the moving target pending in the rope is game.

Obviously, when throwing at a moving target, there is no point in aiming where the target is at the moment. You have to interpret its movement and calculate on where it will be when your spear reaches it. To do that you’ll need to study your target well and use your previous experience to extrapolate a decent estimation of how hard to throw and where to aim.

While I’m doing this, I have to find the balance point of the spear, a point where it rests in my hand without tipping back or forth. Then I aim based on my estimation of where my target will be next, using enough force for my spear to reach it in the right time.

With a powerful and flowing movement of my whole body I create the energy driving the javelin forth before letting it go. I try to let it slip from my hand in the right moment for it to go fast and straight to the target.

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Finding the balance point of my new javelin.

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Aiming with my entire body and creating a flowing movement allowing for a high energy throw.

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The trick is to let go in the right time. It’s a hit!

As Johan mentioned in his last post, it is likely that the javelin was used as a bleeder and not for the actual kill. Hunters would try to make the game bleed in order for it to grow weaker, move more slowly and get easier to track down. As you get close to it by tracking and driving it with your hounds, the game does not expect you to have the extended reach that a javelin gives you. The mort, the killing strike, seems to have been done with a sword or dagger in a almost ritualistic manner, not with the spear regarded as a less noble weapon. Bearing this in mind, there is not much reason to practise long distance throws and we kept close to our targets today.

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For Helena, it was her first time handling the javelin.

I had a hard time in the beginning. It wasn’t easy to hit the target, even at close reach. But after a while I worked out how to do it better. 20140712_173023_Richtone(HDR)I found it helpful to have a handful of spears at the ready, so that I could throw one after another in a nice flow before I had to to go and get them back. Doing so, I had time to learn form every attempt and adjust my technique slightly between every throw.

I also noticed that I preferred Johans heavier javelin rather than my new lighter one. His heavy spear was easier to throw with some real force. The next ones I’ll make for myself will be of a more sturdy kind. My new javelin turned out more appropriate for long distance throws, but used so it cut the air nice and straight. As I get more skilled at aiming and throwing, I think I’ll need different javelins for different purposes and distances.

So, practice makes perfect, they say? I tell you, practice craves picnic!

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IMAG1948I had a great time today. The weather was amazing and it was much fun throwing at our moving target. I benefited from the practice – as a novice on the javelin I could really see immediate result. Soon I got both a better aim and a more powerful throw, even if there is room for much improvement still. We will have to do this again someday soon!

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As I mentioned earlier, if you want to see us practise and hear more about our conclusions from today, don’t miss out on Johans short film.

/ Emil

The javelin

Although the javelin is out of fashion on the battlefield in the 14:th century, it still is in use in hunting. Livre the chasse shows javelins being carried while hunting several kinds of  game.
It is somewhat unclear if the javelin was used for actually killing the prey, or more of a ‘bleeder’, hurting game while on the chase so they will bleed out and tire faster, letting the hounds get to the prey and pull it down.

As the mort was usually done with a sword or dagger, I lean towards that theory.
The usual javelin in the manuscript dont have barbs. Barbs would be useful as it keeps the point in the game and the game will be considerably slowed from the shaft. Maybe the purpose was to bleed the game, as the heads are rather wide, and drop the javelin, leaving an open wound, and possibly leave the javelin to be picked up and used again. Blood-trails would also help the hounds to keep on the parfait (the right line, close on the game). We must remember that the chase of the hounds, not the actual kill was often the point of hunting, hunt-descriptions often relaying the thrill of the chasing hounds as the core of the hunt.

This is just speculations about the use of the spear… But since its my blog, I can speculate all I want.  You are also welcome to speculate in the comments, or on our facebookpage.

/Johan