A Youth Combat Pell

Pells are poles used as a target for sword practice. They’ve been used for at least two thousand years, as documented in this article on the ARMA site.

Common pell forms used in SCA adult armored combat practice are generally based on a 4×4 post wrapped in rope, with the base sunk in a 5 gallon bucket of concrete encircled by an old tire, or set into a post bracket attached to a wooden base.

Unfortunately, these pells are hard to transport in a crowded car, and the rough edges of the wood tend to shred the padded weapons used in youth combat.

I constructed a cheap, portable break-down pell appropriate for youth combat using an H-frame base made of PVC pipe. There are a few H-frame pell designs online; this one at ARMA is pretty similar to the one I describe below.

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Youth Marshal’s Staff

Marshals in the SCA use black-and-yellow staffs when supervising combat activities. The staff allows people to recognize the marshal, and may be used to   signal the beginning of the fight, to call attention to the edge of the field, or to keep fighters from crashing into spectators.

You can make your own youth-marshal staff with a length of PVC/PEX and some black and yellow duct tape.

My preferred technique is to pull off a piece of each color of tape that is almost two times the length of the staff, stick them together with an overlap of half their width, then set them at a 60° angle to the pipe and wrap in a spiral.

(Depending on the size of your core, you might need to fiddle with the angle by a couple of degrees one way or the other, but that should give you even-sized stripes of both colors.)

When you reach the other end, cut the excess tape and fold the edges over.

It’s not beautiful, but it’s simple and cheap and it uses the same materials you already have on hand for weapon construction.

Youth Throwing Hammer

Thrown weapons are not a core element of SCA youth combat, but they do have some novelty/amusement value.

Here in the East, there are basically two styles: javelins made from 3/4″ PEX with a thrusting-tip point and either fins or a pommel on the other end, or else hammers/axes made of all foam.

The rules say that weapons with a core (javelins) may not be gleaned and re-thrown, while those that are all foam may be scooped up and tossed back, which means that javelins are mostly of use in the initial few moments as the lines close, rather than being a factor throughout the engagement. Continue reading Youth Throwing Hammer

List Poles

List poles provide a support for ropes used to enclose an area for medieval combat or other activities.


I expected I’d find existing plans I could copy for this purpose, but ended up designing my own because I couldn’t find any that fit our needs.

  • Self-supporting. In some places you can simply pound stakes into the ground, but here in New York City, a design with legs will allows us to hold events on asphalt, or in public parks where we’re not allowed to make holes in the lawn.
  • Compact and portable. When we’re not at events, these are going to sit in a crate in our small apartment, and then be ferried around in a van packed full of passengers, so they need to collapse down to a reasonable size.
  • Simple. I built six of these one a weekend in my home office with a couple of hand-held power tools.
  • Affordable. I spent around $40 on materials for the six poles ($30 lumber, $10 paint), plus $30 for 100′ of rope.

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Youth Weapons Stand

This stand is designed to hold SCA youth combat  “boffer” swords and similar foam-padded weapons.


I looked at a number of racks for steel and rattan weapons and then came up with a custom design that combined several elements with the following criteria.

  • Support an assortment of SCA-approved youth swords and pole arms, which are typically between 2″ and 3” in diameter, and anywhere from 15″ to 72″ in length.
  • Pack down compactly to an easy-to-carry unit that can be loaded into the van along with other youth combat gear, carried to the site, and then set up quickly.
  • Simple to build using stock dimensional lumber and basic hand-held power tools.

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