The Archery community at Sherwood Forest Faire band together in a yearly costumed Charity competition to raise funds for Knights of the Grail. This group provides Equine Therapy for Veterans with PTSD, focusing on horse care and grooming as well as Joust Games. This weekend is the 2nd annual event!
Sherwood Forest Faire is a period appropriate festival and camping experience outside of Bastrop, Texas that runs every March-April. As the name implies, the Faire focuses on the storyline of 1190’s England, with Robin Hood, King Richard, and the political events of that region being the focus of the ever-progressing storyline.
The faire features everything from actual combat Jousting, to the craftsmanship of all different disciplines, and even hosts one of the only Traditional Archery Competitions in the country. Archers studying traditional methods come from all over the country to compete in the Sherwood Archery Community, both in the Royal Open and English Longbow Competitions.
“Makoa McKraken”, member of the Kings Company and Co-Owner of The Longbow Shop, during a Volley Shoot
The Royal Open
Each season at Sherwood, a traditional archery competition takes place, running the entirety of the two-month long season. The participants are required to dress in period or fantasy styled garb, use only traditional materials in their bows (no plastic, carbon-fiber, or fiberglass here), and to represent the diversity offered in the time period. Archers dress in everything from traditional period gowns, to armor, Hunnish garb to druid costumes and fairy wings.
Rowan Truemoon in her Druid Garb
They all gather together to celebrate their love of traditional archery and fight to become a member of the King’s Company of Archers, an elite group of folk who have won the highest score of each season. Costumery is required, most notably the use of “Headgear,” or headpieces, hats, bandannas, and other accessories that make it obvious in pictures that it is a costumed event. The hashtag “Headgear” is jokingly used all over the Faire to remind people of this tradition.
Bryan Rutherford, Anchoring his shot during the Royal Open Competition
The Knights of the Grail
One of the biggest draws to the Sherwood experience is the Combat Joust which happens on the Lysts each day of the Festival. Joined by such groups as The Knights of Mayhem, Sherwood attendees can learn of the chivalry and competition of the historical Jousts that England is so famous for. The combination of military skill and horsemanship is a glorious thing to behold, drawing Faire patrons from all ends of the park to partake in these feats of skill.
Charlie Andrews, leader of Knights of Mayhem, demonstrating his bond with the horse through no-reins riding
As such, it was a natural segue for the Faire to be reaching out to the community to draw them into aspects of their horse-work, and The Knights of the Grail was born. During Sherwood’s off-season, Veterans from the surrounding communities are invited to take part in training on how to nurture and groom horses, how to ride them, and the basics of the Joust Games that are so well loved during the regular season.
The “Camping Clan” that Shoots Together…
Sherwood Forest Faire offers a “Friends of Faire” program, where Patrons can purchase season passes for the faire that include camping for the entire season. Many of these folk band together into “Clans,” groups with unique identities that suit the personalities of the diverse range of Faire attendees. Odins Children, Sherwood Shire, Wild Rovers, Impaler… each Clan has its own unique identity and focuses on different aspects of Faire life. Their campsites are decorated to a theme, and many of their members dress in similar garb throughout the season.
Clan Impaler, known for hosting the largest number of talented Faire Archers, Champions of the 2017 Battle of the Bowmen
The Battle of the Bowmen
Last year, a group of the Sherwood Archers decided to host a competition designed to raise funds for Knights of the Grail and their Veterans Services efforts. The Horses at Sherwood live in an open pasture, and could very much benefit from having a Stable to shelter them from the harsher weather and seasons.
Bob Brunson of Knights of the Grail as Llywelyn of Wales, riding Merci
The Sherwood Archery community banded together, creating a fun competition designed to highlight each of the camping “Clans” of Sherwood, and pit them against each other in a battle for dominance. Each Clan submitted up to 6 members of their competition team, all required to qualify for the regular Sherwood archery competitions. Any Clan wanting to compete who did not have enough archers was able to purchase a “Mercenary,” one of the many archers at Sherwood who did not have a Camping Clan. All proceeds, totaling $750, went to Knights of the Grail.
The Flying Hun, Mercenary Archer, and Rowan TrueMoon, of Clan Wild Rover
Continuing the Tradition
This weekend at Sherwood, the Second Annual Battle of the Bowmen will take place. This year will be vastly bigger and better than the first event, hosting not only the Archery Competition but a Mounted Archery Demo featuring members of the Mounted Archery Association of the Americas.
It’s members compete in Mounted Archery events all over the world, representing many different historical cultures. The Battle of the Bowmen will then take place, featuring members of MA3, The Traditional Bowhunters of Texas, and many of the Sherwood Camping Clans. King Richard the Lionheart will also be in attendance, and the event will be MC’d by both The Flying Hun and The Gnome King.
Join the Battle
The event takes place Saturday, April 7th, from 5:15pm-7: 30 pm. The event is Open to the Public with purchase of a Sherwood Forest Faire day pass. Proceeds go directly to Knights of the Grail, and donations will be taken on-site or through the donation link here. (PLEASE list “Battle of the Bowmen” when making your donations!)
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