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Dan D'Silva

Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 257

PostPosted: Mon 01 Jun, 2015 6:52 pm    Post subject: How small can a strapped shield be?         Reply with quote

Hello again.

I'm working on a little 11-inch targe like the ones Joe Lindsay used to make. I'd prefer to give it an arm strap and grip in the style of a full-sized one -- to make it more stable and also because that's what the real ones used -- but it seems to me that a shield with this kind of grip system ought to be wider than the forearm is long in order to not leave the elbow or knuckles exposed to sword blows skating along the edge. Although the shield's main body won't have a cutout for the hand, would I be better off giving it just a central grip?
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Andrew Gill

Joined: 19 Feb 2015

Posts: 150

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jun, 2015 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Dan

When you suggest giving it a center-grip, I assume you mean that it will in effect become a buckler? I would personally favour this option, based on my imperfect understanding of the use of shields and bucklers (I have a bit more experience with the latter than the former).

My understanding is that a strapped shield should be large enough to effectively cover at least one of the four openings completely. The buckler makes up for its smaller size by being much lighter and more mobile than a strapped shield. You can also turn it through various orientations in your hand for a wide variety of parries and techniques, and extend it forward further than a shield strapped to your arm, which means that you can cover your sword arm with it as well as other things. I suspect that it is also slightly easier to use offensively like a knuckleduster (although this can be and was done with larger, heavier strapped shields, of course). Now with a buckler-sized strapped shield, you can't as easily cover your fully extended sword-arm with it, or hold it flat-face-forward at distance to blind your opponent to your intentions or to parry at long distance, all of which you could do with a buckler. It is still lighter and more mobile for that reason, but you give up a lot without gaining the normal advantages of a strapped shield (a larger area protected, protection against missile attacks and more mass to soak up the energy from incoming blows, etc).

Now I don't actually know of any extant bucklers constructed like mini targes, but such a thing is not completely implausible (although neither is a smaller strapped shield, even if it is less than ideal in my opinion)

If I'm wrong about anything, hopefully someone will correct me.


Edit: some italian bucklers didn't have a cutout either - that shouldn't be a major problem, although you may want some padding for your knuckles if you use a soft grip like rope or leather
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Dan D'Silva

Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 257

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2015 9:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for that explanation. I did think that probably a center-gripped shield would be a lot more useful in this size, but I'm not experienced with using shields or the "four openings." I have read that the smallest targes were 15 or 16 inches, which is just a bit wider than my forearm is long when I hold my fist closed. I won't claim to have particularly deep knowledge, but certainly if targes this small ever existed historically, they must have been very unusual and thus so would the problem of what kind of grip would be best.

Mr. Lindsay made "1/2 targes" with either straps or center grips. They had hair-on deerskin backs, which I assume adds a certain amount of padding. The center-gripped ones had leather-wrapped rope grips bowed outward. I've spoken to Mike Stilwell, who owned one of those, and he said that it "worked fine" even though he'd been used to bucklers with hand cutouts and straight rigid grips.
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