Throw Weapons MiC at Defending the Gate 2015

Twas a cold, cold event. A good event!  A cold, cold event; but I’ll get back to that.

My first time running a range, I am thankful it was a small one (this will serve as good practice for the archery at Stierbach’s Baronial Birthday).  We had good turn out.  With 18 throwers total, and an afternoon competition with 3 prizes awarded in court, I would call it a very successful day on the range.

Here are some things I learned:

Firstly, we need more TW marshals! I was told by another marshal before the event that they usually run Thrown by themselves, and that I wouldn’t need other marshals.  Well, I am sure their ranges are great, but with the competition and the new protocol of having throwers sign in (which is not as self explanatory as one might think when specific information is needed or their is a crowd anxious to sign in and get on the range), I needed help.  I had one marshal there, who was kind enough to stick with me from set up to tear down, but we needed at least one more marshal.  I had exhausted my email list of local (and some not so local) marshals to no avail.  Alas, it was just the pair of us, and this facilitated a few minor yet stressful situations.  One such situation was the eagerness of new throwers to get onto the range.  Wonderful!  When such eagerness results in them ignoring the entry gate and forcing the marshals to repeatedly call holds because they are ducking under the range perimeter ropes to help themselves to the range.  Not so wonderful!

I think an ideal number of marshals for this event would have been three plus myself.  I needed to be at the table signing people in, explaining the competition, answering questions, getting newbies set up, tallying scorecards, etc.  A second marshal would sit at the range entrance gate, inspecting equipment and managing when new throwers are allowed onto the range to approach a line.  A third marshal to call the lines.  Ideally, a fourth marshal to take official scores during the competition (more on this later, as well).  This arrangement of marshals was used at Pennsic last year, and it ran beautifully.  Had we not had the competition, we could have used three, but I still maintain that the two marshals (including myself) was not enough and made for a very stressful and a bit hectic feeling day on the range with a lot of juggling rosters, inspections, mitigating who was coming onto and exiting the range, and tagging in and out with each other to use the restroom or get food/drink.

Secondly, the necessity of the official scorekeeper became apparent when I was given the scorecards back at the end of the competition.  Since I usually shoot with the same group of archers, I do not know if this is a problem for archery as well (I should ask after the St. Sebastian’s Shoot at Pennsic).  Unfortunately, most of the score cards returned included padded scores.  I had to explain repeatedly that a “cut” in the paper did not count for points, rather only a stuck weapon counted for points.  Alas, I received score cards from throwers who I watched throw who did not make contact with the target claiming points in the 20s.  To provide some context here, our two top scorers were between 28 and 34 points, and they were two expert throwers with years of experience.  I can bear witness that most (although not all) of the fluffed scores were not SCAdians, but visitors from another group.  This inspired me to make a call as MiC and change the third prize to an “Outstanding Thrower” award for sportsmanship and awarded it a particularly honest and courteous first time thrower.

Thirdly, I wonder if there ought to be a minimum required temperature for events with outdoor activities, or a time limit on how long event staff (marshals) can be outside in very cold temps?  For the throwers, we had several mis-throws (forward AND backward) due to hands being too numb to grip the handles of the weapons.  For the marshals, the day proved long and trying.  I was outside from 8am until 5pm, with only a few minutes at lunch to pop inside to use the restroom and grab a cup of hot tea.  I understand that a long day with few breaks is what one signs up for when one volunteers to run a range.  However, with the temps in the twenties to thirties (17 degrees when I arrived in the morning), and the windchill well below that, I endured physical consequences that day, and into the next, from the very cold temperatures.  I find it interesting that heat and heat exhaustion is taken seriously but that concern was not paid to the cold by the chirurgeons with whom I spoke.  The temps did cause my arthritis to flare up pretty severely, but that is my own so I do not want to put that on the event.  It was cold enough to give me several red and swollen toes from frostnip, which lasted several days; this through three layers of wool insulated socks and lined boots.  Being my first range, I was hesitant to call off TW due to cold, but after this experience, I think I will do so next time, if not for the comfort and safety of the throwers, then for the marshals.

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