They who stood in front hewed down with their swords; they who stood next thrust with their spears; and they who stood hindmost shot arrows, cast spears, or threw stones, hand axes, or sharp stakes. Snorri Sturluson, The Heimskringla ca. 1230
Missile Weapons of The Vikings
The missiles department includes archery, crossbows, slings and javelins, the Missile weapons of the period.
If you would like to learn more about learning to use one of the missile weapons from the Viking period contact the missile weapons thegns
For the published rules on Missile combat, consult the The Missiles Officer's Training Handbook 1.3
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: Sharp arrows must NEVER be pointed, or loosed, at any person or animal, or in any direction where you cannot see where it will fly.
The Combat Handbook is available here. This is the latest version of our rules, ratified by RTTs on 09/04/2023. Our assessment manual is being updated and should be available in 2023.
Hits and Kills
At all times, warriors must be in full control of any weapon they are wielding. All blows are expected to land on target and under control.
A Valid Hit is one which is delivered to a Target Area with Lethal Character. Any attack that does not have Lethal Character will not score a Valid Hit and may be ignored as a “flesh wound”. Appropriate reaction to all hits at all times should be displayed.
Lethal character is defined as a blow delivered with the cutting edge or point of a weapon in such a way as to give the impression of force without inflicting actual damage or injury. Blows should be delivered with the cutting edge or point of the weapon unless it is to the back in which case the flat of the blade should be used. The whole body/arm should be used to deliver the blow; a flick of the wrist alone is not acceptable.
The missile warrior should adopt the same approach to lethal character as is expected of melee warriors, and at all times remain alert and in character whilst on the field of battle.
Kills – the Two Hit Rule
In order to score a Kill on an opponent, two Valid Hits with Lethal Character must be landed within a ten second window. After receiving the first Valid Hit the struck warrior;
- will display appropriate hit reaction
- will lower their shield and weapon, and must not defend against further attack.
- start a silent, slow count to 10 whilst acting wounded.
- may step backwards a few steps but no more.
- may be pushed around by their comrades to move them further.
- must not lie down, kneel or take any other action that might be misinterpreted as ‘dying’.
If the warrior’s knee touches the ground after the first valid hit they are considered to be ‘dead’ and may not take part in any further combat. The second hit;
- must be a separate Valid Hit to any Target Area.
- need not be from the same opponent.
If, at the end of the slow count of ten, no second Valid Hit has been received, the warrior may re-join the melee, fully healed.
If the first hit is a clear kill (e.g. a beautiful javelin in the guts) then the defending warrior should not wait for the second blow but just roll over and ‘die’, especially if in full view of an audience.
Missile warriors are encouraged to cooperate with their melee wielding companions and may communicate the need for a Coup de Grace on an injured opponent (a much safer solution than trying to finish a dying victim off with a close shot!)
Missile warriors must remain acutely aware of dead or dying warriors strewn across their possible beaten zone.
In the event that two opponents score a Valid Hit simultaneously, this is known as a ‘Mutual Hit’. Both warriors must take the hit and react in accordance with the rules above, unless one of the warriors is armoured in which case see below.
The Effect of Armour
Whilst warriors are encouraged to wear armour appropriate to their character portrayal, the only benefit this provides in combat is that the armoured warrior will ‘win’ in the event of a Mutual Kill if their opponent is unarmoured. For the purposes of these rules, armour is classed as maille and does not include simple padded, leather or lamellar armour.
Hit Locations on Infantry
- Target Area
A hit to any of these areas by the metal part of any weapon, the rubber blunt on an arrow or sling bullet is a Valid Hit if delivered with Lethal Character.
- Valid Hit Locations for Cuts are:
- 2 Shoulders, Chest & Back
- 4 Abdomen & Buttocks
- 6 Upper leg
- Valid Hit Locations for Thrusts are:
- 2 Chest & Back (not Shoulders or Spine)
- 4 Abdomen & Buttocks
- 6 Upper leg (only for missile weapons)
- Off Target Area
Deliberate attacks to these areas are not permitted. A hit to this area should be reacted to, especially in the presence of an audience but will not count as a valid hit."""
- Off target areas are:
- 3 Arms
- 5 Groin
- 7 Knees & Lower Leg
- Banned Area
A hit to a banned area is not permitted. In the event of a blow being landed in a banned area, the offending warrior should give their opponent the opportunity to kill them (by committing a suicidal attack if necessary).
- Banned Areas are;
- 1 Head
When striking to an opponent’s back, care should be taken to avoid the spinal area and the flat of the weapon used. If possible, such blows to the rear should be delivered to the buttocks
The hooking of any part of a warrior by any weapon (e.g. axes) is forbidden. If a hooking situation occurs and the warrior is unable to immediately disengage, the weapon must be discarded.
The hooking of weapons is allowed, but care must be taken where the weapon will land if a disarm occurs.
The Missiles Officer's Training Handbook is available here
Arrows, bolts and bullets loosed in high angle lob are permitted to hit the head or neck (banned area) or shoulders, and should be reacted to as a Valid Hit.
Should a sling bullet, released using the under arm action, strike a banned area in un-scripted combat then the slinger should react, as if he had received a valid hit, and take a ten count.
Mandatory Protective Equipment
- Mandatory safety equipment must be worn at all times when taking part in any combat activity unless otherwise stated.
Head Protection Head protection must be worn by anyone entering the arena during combat displays at shows, or otherwise participating in any form of combat at “The Vikings” events.
Any combatant under the age of 18 must be identified by a white band around their Head Protection.
The minimum requirement for Head Protection is a steel helmet / hardened leather skull cap, or other nonauthentic materials (e.g. bump cap shell) concealed within an authentic hat, hood or wimple. All protective headgear must confirm with Society Authenticity Regulations. Head Protection must be well secured to prevent loss during combat.
The minimum requirement for gloves is that they provide impact protection to the hands and the full length of the fingers. The minimum recommended padding is 6mm of hard leather or equivalent. It is the responsibility of the wearer to satisfy themselves that their gloves provide adequate protection, however any society armourer, training officer or Hersir may ban the use of a set of gloves if they cannot be convinced of their efficacy. If modern gloves are used, they must be disguised to conform to SAR. In particular, any obviously modern colours should be toned down so that they are unobtrusive (for example using boot polish).
Those not taking part in any hand to hand combat on the battlefield need only wear Head Protection. This list includes but is not limited to
- Archers (display only)
- Water Carriers
- Standard Bearers
If approached by a warrior in combat, these participants must flee and leave the battlefield.
The Missiles Officer (Missiles Thegn) is responsible for maintaining the standards and safety of all missile combat within the Society.
The Missiles Thegn appoints the Archery Thegn, Sling Thegn, Javelin Thegn and Crossbow Thegn.
More information on the Missiles Officers of the Society can be found on the Additional Society Officers pages.
If you want to find a RTT-M to help you with the training and assessment of missile weapons in your local area look at the list of Assessing officers