The Tab Tries: Reenactment Society
It’s fun and educational
Underrated, judged and laughed at, the reenactment society is one of the uni’s most overlooked societies.
But what do they actually do? They don’t just get funding for tents, and run around in costume, there is in fact a whole world of facts, formations and pikes to be discovered. Fulfilling some childhood desires for battle reenactment and sword fighting, we headed to the society to get our Civil War on.
We arrived greeted by a small platoon, armed with (blunted) swords, pikes and up muskets, complete with their own drumming detachment, whose job it is to communicate commands in battle. Obviously these weapons were all non-lethal dummies to avoid potential perils, such as dismemberment and death that often come with using weaponry. However when the society go into the field as part of the William Godolphin regiment, they carry real (though still non-lethal) weapons.
Society members will participate in a number of activities, ranging from small living history demonstrations, one of which will be happening at St. Georges Hall this Wednesday (27th April) to military encampments and canon firing workshops, as well as full scale 17th Century battle reenactments. These battles will feature everything from cavalry charges to hand to combat, all guided by a strict set of licensing and semi-choreographed fighting, designed to ensure nothing happens to anyone that historically would have.
We decided to get involved, trying our hand at sword fight, pike formation and musketry. Sword fighting, otherwise known as heavy metal fencing, was pretty difficult. Techniques used mimicked actual period sword fighting, and would certainly prove useful in getting rid of unwanted attention in Concert Square on a Saturday night. Designed for accessibility as well as safety, it was fairly easy to pick up the basics and have some fun waving our swords about. Whilst you splurge your student loan on trainers and Raz bombs, these guys spend it on more useful things, any of the members owning their own swords, which come into the £200-£300 price bracket.
Pike was a slightly snugger experience, personal space sacrificed for the needs of smashing apart other tightly packed groups, we were placed right into the middle of the tight collective of bodies, each persons knee firmly squished up the next’s bum. In practice their pikes were shorted dummies, in battle they would be 16ft in length, forming a nice hedgehog for any cavalrymen (the Sealed Knot uses ex-police horses for this purpose) foolish enough to attempt to penetrate it.
Besides battle recreation there also came a degree of historical learning, the tactics, formations and fighting styles are all modelled on those of the C18th. Whilst not going so far as to express the blood and guts of war, group leaders explained the ways in which weapons would have damaged soldiers, allowing members to remember what it actually was they were recreating.
We also had a go at musket practice. As a real musket is classed as a shotgun, everybody has to complete a certificate with the police. Due to the considerable paper work, and money, involved in possessing a musket, the society instead chose to give us practice muskets to use instead. However after a couple of shooting drills we got down to business in a pitched skirmish.
Two sides facing off to fight it out with muskets and pikes, battering our wood against each other in order to defeat the other. The Tab writers decided to face off together, however although Marisa knocked the soul out of Max’s 8-year-old aspiring Civil War soldier in the first round, Max redeemed himself to bring it to a final draw in the later. Then the shout ‘Cornish’ went up, which resulted in various pike men writhing round on the floor together.
After all this it was off to the pub, the society were a friendly group, not cliquey and certainly not condescending towards us, despite our lack of fighting skills. They even asked if we were hurt in battle, and helped us improve our technique.
So, if you fancy releasing your inner Cavelier or just want to get out some anger, join the reenactment society for some friendly, lightly violent fun.