Shield wall training methods.

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Høvding
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Shield wall training methods.

Postby Høvding » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:27 pm

Hello all, new to this forum and was wondering:
When training for combat with shields do you:
a) Form up first into shield wall, checking cohesion is tight (tested by Jarl with Boadaxe)

b) Form two opposing shield walls and check each others cohesion on clash

c) Pair off into partners and proceed with one on one combat focusing more defense/offense with a shield in single combat

d) Limit selection of weapons brought into shield line i.e. spears only or single handed axes, short swords

e) permit headshots due to nature of shield wall combat

f) Insist upon head protection due to nature of shield wall combat

g) Form shield wall one, two or three ranks deep (depending on availability of bodies)

h) If shield wall is two+ ranks thick are spears levelled over shoulders of first rank or held back, with secondary rank acting as a brace/driver

i) When engaging archers, will each man be prior informed as to his position in the static wall.

j) When engaged by archers, arrows lobbed so as to drop on targets or fired level at target.

If working with shields in a dueling/single combat situation will you utilize shield boss as a weapon or merely as a defensive fixture. What is your regulation on shield thickness,. facing, rivet types, and hide edging with durability, safety and manouverability taken into consideration?

May Thanks Høvding


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Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:38 pm

In th Vikings.....

a) Yes
b) Yes
c) No
d) No
e) NEVER
f) Always
g) Yes
h) Spear points pointing down or horizontal if coming between or blow front rank shields. Second ranks plus act as brace/driver.
i) No
j) Both

Shields and their boses are purely defensive and are not allowed to be used as a killing weapon. Shields should not be less than 6mm thick (9mm is better, some go even thicker - these get very heavy, very quickly) Facings are optional but should be glued down over the entire surface of the shield otherwise it will get torn and start to flap. Edging - we recomend using raw hide strips either nailed or sewn in place. Metal rims are also permitted but all shield rims of what ever material must be free from burrs or sticking out pieces that could catch and tear cloth/flesh.


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Postby Høvding » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:56 pm

Thanks! :) that helps a lot, was curious about headshots as I experienced in past walls shots leveled at crown of helm, and one or two spears thrust uncomfortably high. But without headshots in wall how do you determine hits/casualties in wall combat?


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Postby Nigel » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:09 pm

You break the wall

Thats when the killing happens unless you get lucky


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Postby Aelfric » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:52 pm

In Regia -

A) We usually (though not always) fight in looser order than a solid 'shield wall' but still a mutually supporting line

B) Yes with lines as above

C) No

D) No - you can use whatever weapons you're qualified to use but spears predominate

E) No, never

F) No

G) Sometimes

H) Usually between the shields of the front rank

I) No

J) loosed level at target

We never use any part of the shield to attack our opponents body, though we do sometimes use the shield aggresively to create openings we can then hit.



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Postby Aelfric » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:04 pm

Høvding wrote:Thanks! :) that helps a lot, was curious about headshots as I experienced in past walls shots leveled at crown of helm, and one or two spears thrust uncomfortably high. But without headshots in wall how do you determine hits/casualties in wall combat?


Best way is (as mentioned above) to break or outflank a shield wall. Failing that there are plenty of ways to put shots in to targets other than the head - cross shots with spears are very effective as are attacks to your opponents upper arms and shoulders if you're using a sword, if a fighter is well trained he does not need to hit anyone on the head. As for high spear shots, there is no excuse for threatening the face with a spear.



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Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:56 pm

Thanks! that helps a lot, was curious about headshots as I experienced in past walls shots leveled at crown of helm, and one or two spears thrust uncomfortably high. But without headshots in wall how do you determine hits/casualties in wall combat?


Again, in the Vikings, we stick to our standard kill zones of just above the knee to the flat of the shoulder (excluding the groin) fron, back and sides. Make your opponent move their shield out of the way then hit them, alternatively, if they won't oblige, move their shield for them, then hit them in the target area.
As Nigel says, break the opposing wall then start killing. The shield wall that sicks together longer tends to win more.


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Postby Høvding » Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:56 pm

Fantastic guys, what you have said makes a lot of sense, hopefully be starting a group soon and just needed to know what other societies reckon works best both in training and show. thanks again


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Postby Zachos » Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:21 pm

Apparently spartan soldiers used to practice their phalanx formation by getting into position and then as a group pushing against an immovable object. That meant when they came up against movable objects it was a walk in the park.

Absolutely nothing to do with the conversation...

Carry on.


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Postby Biro » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:47 am

a) Form up first into shield wall, checking cohesion is tight (tested by Jarl with Boadaxe)
Yes - but usually tested with a shoulder push (less impact behind, but more weight - if you follow)

b) Form two opposing shield walls and check each others cohesion on clash
No - not enough of us :)

c) Pair off into partners and proceed with one on one combat focusing more defense/offense with a shield in single combat
Yes, but I wouldn't call it shield wall training

d) Limit selection of weapons brought into shield line i.e. spears only or single handed axes, short swords
Yes, we do a lot of spears vs shields etc. Also with a line drawn that the 'defender' cannot cross. Drawing the line is very good practice.

e) permit headshots due to nature of shield wall combat
Yes, but we do them anyway (only within our own group!)

f) Insist upon head protection due to nature of shield wall combat
Yes - always

g) Form shield wall one, two or three ranks deep (depending on availability of bodies)
Not enough of us, be we would if we could

h) If shield wall is two+ ranks thick are spears levelled over shoulders of first rank or held back, with secondary rank acting as a brace/driver
Could be either.

Oh, and we never use shields offensively, and keep them close to the body tilted slightly out at the top. Seen too many broken teeth from shield-charges/swipes sliding up inward tilting shields. Same goes for spears etc. Tilt it so they don't slide up :)



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Postby Nigel » Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:08 am

a) Form up first into shield wall, checking cohesion is tight (tested by Jarl with Boadaxe) We form it on the move and have drilled to do this cohesion is a given

b) Form two opposing shield walls and check each others cohesion on clash yes

c) Pair off into partners and proceed with one on one combat focusing more defense/offense with a shield in single combat This is normal training along with our assorted training Games

d) Limit selection of weapons brought into shield line i.e. spears only or single handed axes, short swords Nope bring what you want

e) permit headshots due to nature of shield wall combat No

f) Insist upon head protection due to nature of shield wall combat Yes helmet mandatory for all combat

g) Form shield wall one, two or three ranks deep (depending on availability of bodies) Standard practice everybody knows where they should go and goes there

h) If shield wall is two+ ranks thick are spears levelled over shoulders of first rank or held back, with secondary rank acting as a brace/driver No tight wall spears coming over front angled down

i) When engaging archers, will each man be prior informed as to his position in the static wall. See G

j) When engaged by archers, arrows lobbed so as to drop on targets or fired level at target Lobbed shooting into a shield wall whilst engaged is simply too dangerous


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Postby WorkMonkey » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:19 pm

surely this all comes down to ones perception of a "shield wall" as to what shots would be permissable, or what weapons being used.


If you're using a densely packed body of men, shields overlapped, then no one in their right mind would be using a short arm weapon, despite our whole modern hollywood ethos that swords are cool, there's a reason why the pole weapon was the principle weapon of armed bodies of men from the bronze age to the english civil war, because it works in formation. Swords and axes dont work in formation. Naturally using one handed spears in a line against some with a dock off great shield in front of them limits your shots to the head, and the bits that stick out from outside the shield, ie the arms and the legs, of course these sorts of shots arent permissible for safety reasons. Since we're abit sketchy on the nature of the shield wall its impossible to say, but i'm pretty certain its not the way most of the larger re-enactment societies portray it, I very much hope to see one in action one day, I hope yours turns out well, starting a new group is a good way to break away from all the ingrained misconceptions, or just another chance to fall into the same old routines. good luck.


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Postby Aelfric » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:55 pm

To a point I do agree with you, I use a single handed spear myself when I fight in a line but even then safety (quite rightly) places huge limitations on it’s accurate use and in a close order line the potential for accidents goes up again! In Regia use of the single hand spear has gone up a lot in the last few years, especially among the more experienced fighters and in our looser lines it’s a damned effective weapon, but it’s not a weapon I’d like to start complete newbies out with! I’d love to be proved wrong but I just can’t see a safe way for two lines, especialy in close order shield walls to fight safely if everyone has a single handed spear. The way we (in all societies) fight is not, and never will be anything like authentic you just have to choose whose compromises you like the best!



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Postby WorkMonkey » Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:21 pm

definately, its not something you can just equip everyone with, its dangerous enough at the best of the times, because the lack of control that can be forcd on you if someone bats it out the way, let alone if you have no prior experiance, it just looks good, 's all im saying.


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Postby Brand » Thu May 15, 2008 8:21 pm

I find that in most big shielwalls the best weapon to get hits with is a large seax- upper arms when they reach over with sword/ axes and slipping between shields when the muck up!



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Re: Shield wall training methods.

Postby Jim » Fri May 16, 2008 10:58 am

Høvding wrote:f) Insist upon head protection due to nature of shield wall combat


Not entirely sure about earlier periods but certainly in c15th head protection is compulsory whether doing shield stuff or not.


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Re: Shield wall training methods.

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri May 16, 2008 12:28 pm

Jim wrote:Not entirely sure about earlier periods but certainly in c15th head protection is compulsory whether doing shield stuff or not.


Not all early medieval (ie pre-1066) groups have a compulsory helmet rule.

And no, this isn't suicidally dangerous.
One of the two biggest early med societies in the country operates like this safely.
As shield walls should be two lines of blokes jabbing at each other with spears, nasal helms don't make a lot of difference as they tend not to protect your face.

If your idea of a shield wall is primarily two lines of blokes waving swords and other short arms then, yes, helmets are probably a good idea.


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Postby pjh73 » Fri May 16, 2008 1:48 pm

As shield walls should be two lines of blokes jabbing at each other with spears, nasal helms don't make a lot of difference as they tend not to protect your face.


But when one line is broken, surely the work gets closer, out come the short arms of various kinds, and at that point it starts to get risky? I'd want to wear it in the wall to be ready for when we were no longer just line fighting.



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Postby Nigel » Fri May 16, 2008 2:01 pm

pjh73 wrote:
As shield walls should be two lines of blokes jabbing at each other with spears, nasal helms don't make a lot of difference as they tend not to protect your face.


But when one line is broken, surely the work gets closer, out come the short arms of various kinds, and at that point it starts to get risky? I'd want to wear it in the wall to be ready for when we were no longer just line fighting.


personal choice I have done both without a problem

if I was planning on breakign a wall then I would be armoured up and that includes a lid


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Postby Brand » Fri May 16, 2008 4:02 pm

For much of my reenacting there is little protection beyond gloves- I train for dark ages without a lid and we have an excellent safety record- it's a non-target area and people train to ensure it does not become one!

For dark age and medieval battles I do of course always wear a lid but for training don't.

For later periods where lids are not appropriate, again the safety aspect comes in and people train hard to ensure no-one gets hurt.

When your all wearing just gloves for protection people tend to be much more aware of each other and careful.



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Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Fri May 16, 2008 6:07 pm

As shield walls should be two lines of blokes jabbing at each other with spears, nasal helms don't make a lot of difference as they tend not to protect your face.


Oh yes they do! Unless the thrust is coming straight at your unprotected facial parts the nasal on a helmet will hlep deflect even slightly angled blows away from your face. The Vikings have compulsary head protection and no head strikes rules yet I have been amazed at just how much of a defence that thin(ish) 0 i.e. not very wide - strip of metal gives.


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Postby Nikki » Sat May 17, 2008 12:14 pm

Neil of Ormsheim wrote:
As shield walls should be two lines of blokes jabbing at each other with spears, nasal helms don't make a lot of difference as they tend not to protect your face.


Oh yes they do!


Not sure I'm convinced.

I've seen just as many head and face injuries on people wearing helmet as those who weren't. Wearing a helmet protects better against concussion than not wearing one, but in my experience you can get face injuries from weapons dinging off the nasal or from the nasal itself just as often as you can get a facial hit when helmetless.

For example I've seen a broken nose from an accidental shield in an un-helmeted person's face. But I've also seen a broken nose from an accidental headshot that pushed the nasal of the person's helmet too far into their face to the extent that their nose was broken.

When fighting in a "no head hits" society it shouldn't matter whether or not you wear a helmet. The shots shouldn't be headbound and any that do are of the freak accident variety. Either helmeted or un-helmeted you're dealing with an unexpected situation

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Postby Biro » Sun May 18, 2008 12:40 am

But I've also seen a broken nose from an accidental headshot that pushed the nasal of the person's helmet too far into their face to the extent that their nose was broken.


Wow - that's an awful lot of force on accidental shot on a non-target area.... either that or the helmet was very badly fitted/padded.



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Postby Jim » Mon May 19, 2008 10:59 am

I my experience, most blows to the head come from people you're not even fighting. When you're in a melee, with people all around you swinging swords, pole-arms etc., you can easily get the butt of a spear in the kisser. It seems to be rare to get hit in the face by your opponent. The trouble is, it's blows from those around you that you're not expecting, so it's more likely they'll connect with your skull.

Even with a clear no headshots rule, people will still get smacked on the bonce unintentionally.

I think saying you might as well not wear a helmet because you can get a facial injury even when you are wearing one, is at best a weak argument, and at worst is discouraging people from wearing a piece of equipment which I think most reasonable people would consider to be essential.

Just because you haven't been hit on the head yet, doesn't mean it'll never happen.

You might also want to check with your insurer, I suspect they'd not be too happy with no compulsory head protection rule on the field, but I may be wrong...


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Postby Phil the Grips » Mon May 19, 2008 12:37 pm

It's only an issue with insurance if you have said "We always fight wearing metal helmets" and then don't do that- otherwise how do you think that periods that do combat where helmets are an impossibility due to not existing (C17th onwards) do it?

I used to regularly do early medieval stuff in nowt more than thre eyards of linen and a spear and never got injured in that decade or so.


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Postby Jim » Mon May 19, 2008 12:58 pm

Phil the Grips wrote:It's only an issue with insurance if you have said "We always fight wearing metal helmets" and then don't do that- otherwise how do you think that periods that do combat where helmets are an impossibility due to not existing (C17th onwards) do it?

I used to regularly do early medieval stuff in nowt more than thre eyards of linen and a spear and never got injured in that decade or so.


Well I was referring to periods that might have shield walls as per the OP, sorry for not being specific.

As for you not getting any injuries in ten years, all I can say is "Well done". If you could bottle your luck and sell it, you'd be a millionaire overnight! ;) I doubt that level of non-injury is typical across the reenactment community though.
Last edited by Jim on Mon May 19, 2008 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Postby Phil the Grips » Mon May 19, 2008 1:21 pm

It's the rugby vs 'merkin football thing (as well as boxing)- because people have armour in the later periods they go in harder and can ignore the little bumps, so when it goes wrong it goes very wrong indeed.


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Postby PaulMurphy » Mon May 19, 2008 1:26 pm

Jim, I think you're trying to apply your experience to other societies and other periods, which is always a problem on here. In 23 years with The Vikings, I've had one broken finger, one broken metacarpal, a twisted ankle, and a bang on the elbow. Only the twisted ankle kept me off work, and that was only for a day because I had to delay my return journey until I could walk on it. In 10 years with Tournee, I've never had an injury, despite it involving near full contact in our events.

Bruises are a fact of re-enactment combat, as are minor cuts and scratches. I discount them, as trying to remove the risk of them involves banning any contact between weapon and body, which looks silly.

If I had had the level of injuries you've described in 4 years of re-enactment in any of the societies I've been a part of, I'd say I would have been very unlucky, or the society needed to look at its safety record and policies.

BUT, then I'd be transferring our rules, background and culture onto you, and I'm not sure it applies well under such circumstances. After all, I'm used to single society battles for 99% of the time, where combat rules are well policed and training is to agreed standards and with effective action to address shortcomings, while you're in a period with 20+ smallish groups who sometimes find it hard to agree on anything, and so as a result you can't expect the same degree of regularity in what happens. Addressing problems with individual combatants doesn't appear to be easy, from my (outside and limited) vantage point.

You also have the disadvantage of having lots of armour, as this encourages people to think they can hit you harder and more wildly, since the armour will protect you. Except of course that it doesn't always, so you may get hurt more _because_ you are wearing armour, rather than despite it.

Paul.


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Postby Jim » Mon May 19, 2008 2:13 pm

Paul, I agree with pretty much everything you just said, well put.


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Postby Nikki » Mon May 19, 2008 4:46 pm

Biro wrote:
But I've also seen a broken nose from an accidental headshot that pushed the nasal of the person's helmet too far into their face to the extent that their nose was broken.


Wow - that's an awful lot of force on accidental shot on a non-target area.... either that or the helmet was very badly fitted/padded.


Just the angle it came in at more than anything else.
And maybe the patients rather large nose ;)




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