Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Recommendations for a beginner? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Dara Mag Uiginn




Location: United States
Joined: 12 Nov 2015
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sun 22 Nov, 2015 7:32 pm    Post subject: Recommendations for a beginner?         Reply with quote

I am aware that the subject has been addressed ad nauseam by several people, but I'd like to hear from the proverbial 'man in the street.' Does anyone have any recommendations for someone who has a deep interest in historical arms, armour, and combat? I've gotten a few good ideas of what looks good, but I'd like to hear some stories from old-timers (and newcomers!) from the community.

How did you start your collection?

What's a good place to begin? Should one purchase an 'entry-level' piece or should he/she buy something that would be a centerpiece for a while to come?

What 'feels good' to you, handling-wise?

They're general questions, but I hope to get a feel for where you guys started and begin my foray into the fine world of historical arms and armor.

"It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards."
-Søren Kierkegaard
View user's profile Send private message
Houston P.




Location: United States
Joined: 20 Apr 2015

Posts: 65

PostPosted: Sun 22 Nov, 2015 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I started my collection quite recently after I was given a Shieldmaiden made by Christian Fletcher. Although, I had studied Viking age arms and armour extensively before that, and I had grown quite picky as a result, my philosophy has always been to save and get something you know you will be satisfied with rather than to buy entry level pieces. That's not to say they have to be expensive, there are quite a few swords that are exceptionally good for their prices, but I knew that if I saw obvious flaws that I see in the vast majority of entry level reproductions I would grow frustrated and wonder why I hadn't saved for something better. If you aren't quite so easily annoyed by flaws, you may take a totally different route, but the only pieces of arms and armour I regret are the ones that were on the lower end. I have yet to get a fine one that I looked back at and said " I wish I hadn't spent so much." I hope this rant was somewhat helpful, and good luck on starting your collection!
...and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭36‬) To be without silver is better than to be without honor. -Norse proverb
View user's profile Send private message
Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Sun 22 Nov, 2015 10:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My advice is geared towards someone who's interested in recreational cutting or martial arts. IMO the very best first sword for a beginner is a synthetic waster so you can start learning how to handle a sword without any danger from a sharp edge or point and with a little luck you'll find a group or at least one other interested person to practice fencing with. Safe and sane pro-gear for synthetics cost a fraction of what a proper steel kit will cost. Once you've got some experience under your belt a machete is probably the best sharp to start with because it'll be hard to break, cheap to replace if you do and you can learn sharpening on it. A machete won't cut tatami very well but they're great for all kinds of other targets and they're a practical tool to have around besides. After you've gotten comfortable with the machete my top two recommendations for entry level swords are the Hanwei Tinker Norman and the Windlass Type XIV. They're both good but the H/T Norman is the best between the two, it'll cut tatami and provides an opportunity to learn things like refinishing the blade or hilt components and re-wrapping grips. Live with the entry level sword for a year or so and do every crazy sword test you ever wanted to do with it, then you'll be ready to get the most out of the high end sword of your choosing.
View user's profile Send private message
Aaron Hoard




Location: Seattle, WA
Joined: 01 Sep 2009
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 149

PostPosted: Sun 22 Nov, 2015 11:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think you can go too wrong with Albion or Arms & Armor. Both make nice, high-quality items. If you buy directly from them, they are both reputable businesses that typically deliver when they say they will. If you wait around, you can find some of their items in good shape on the used market at a discount.

Another area to consider: polearms/spears/axes/etc. are generally more affordable than swords and interesting in their own right. Arms & Armor makes a bunch of different ones at a lower price point than their swords.

I wouldn't go the custom/high-end route until you really know what you want. That can be a big investment and you might as well understand what you are getting for your money. The custom makers on here make some incredible items.

There's a wealth of information on this site - take the time to read through it and you'll be a much more informed buyer when you are ready to buy.
View user's profile Send private message
Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Mon 23 Nov, 2015 1:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Dara, welcome.

Very much try before you buy. By your posting I'm not sure what you are interested in exactly. The arms and armour world on here is very wide ranging from collectors of originals, to craftspeople who reproduce, martial arts practitioners, Ren Fair participants and professional living history demonstrators.

I'd try and find who is local in your area who does anything touching on historical arms and armour and get a feel. Is it swords or armour or both? Interested in fighting with foam/steel weapons or just the cutting/handling characteristics for a particular style or era of culture of weapon? This can be a relatively inexpensive hobby but also a hugely expensive all consuming passion that might even get you an income if that's what you want.

If its early days, crawl before you can walk before you can run so you know what flames you want to set burning.

Good luck and have fun, we are all happy to help.

Yours,

Griff

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
View user's profile Send private message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 574

PostPosted: Mon 23 Nov, 2015 4:00 am    Post subject: Re: Recommendations for a beginner?         Reply with quote

I'd said look around, read a lot and figure out which specific time period(s) interest you most.
View user's profile Send private message
Dara Mag Uiginn




Location: United States
Joined: 12 Nov 2015
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon 23 Nov, 2015 5:41 am    Post subject: Re: Recommendations for a beginner?         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the great answers, guys!

Pieter B. wrote:
I'd said look around, read a lot and figure out which specific time period(s) interest you most.


Mark Griffin wrote:
Is it swords or armour or both? Interested in fighting with foam/steel weapons or just the cutting/handling characteristics for a particular style or era of culture of weapon?


I've always been partial towards the aesthetics of migration and viking era Celtic and Norse weapons, though my interests span from the Ewart Park leaf-shaped blade finds to the arms and armour of early 15th century Europe. I've been going over the site with a fine-toothed comb, and am gravitating towards either an Oakeshott type XVIIIa or a Peterson type L.
I am interested in armour, and have been working on some maille in my spare time for a couple weeks now. I hope to one day have the time, equipment, and skill to make a fairly accurate Gjermundbu helm (by far my favourite helmet to come out of the migration period, though it is also an early Viking era piece.)
The plan was to buy a waister soon (probably synthetic) for basic footwork training with a fellow enthusiast in my area (neither of us have anything right now). Safety gear is a given. Of course, cutting tests on anything from water bottles to tatami mats would be good fun, but I'd like to figure out edge alignment beforehand. I just don't know how much a waister helps with that.

Aaron Hoard wrote:
Another area to consider: polearms/spears/axes/etc. are generally more affordable than swords and interesting in their own right. Arms & Armor makes a bunch of different ones at a lower price point than their swords.

I'm aware of this, and I find that some of their spears are quite pleasing to the eye. It does look like Albion or Arms & Armor are the way to go (Sorry, Mike! I'll probably still look into the Norman.)

Houston P. wrote:
I started my collection quite recently after I was given a Shieldmaiden made by Christian Fletcher. Although, I had studied Viking age arms and armour extensively before that, and I had grown quite picky as a result, my philosophy has always been to save and get something you know you will be satisfied with rather than to buy entry level pieces.

I feel like you have the right idea. (I looked at that Fletcher, by the way. That's really something that you can be proud of. I'm glad that you have such a gorgeous piece in your collection!)


Again, thanks a lot, guys. The information has been extremely helpful. I do have two more questions: Out of curiosity, what is your favourite waister. Do you prefer synthetic or wooden?

"It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards."
-Søren Kierkegaard
View user's profile Send private message
Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Mon 23 Nov, 2015 1:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Recommendations for a beginner?         Reply with quote

Dara Mag Uiginn wrote:
Of course, cutting tests on anything from water bottles to tatami mats would be good fun, but I'd like to figure out edge alignment beforehand. I just don't know how much a waister helps with that.


They're fine. You listen for the sound the waster makes as it cuts through the air, it will sound dull if your edge alignment is off and it'll sound sharp if it's on. Really just about anything that's thinner than it is wide can be used this way, if you have a yard stick handy you can swat with the flat and then cut with the edge and listen for the difference. There's actually a lot of detail that goes into a well executed cut but as you get better at it you'll be able to hit sharper notes and concentrate the sound at the point in space you desire and that should correspond to the target you're trying to impact. For instance if you're practicing head cuts the sound should spike high and in front of you.

Oh yeah, if you handle your sword inside chances are sooner or later you'll cut your ceiling or strike a lamp. Happy Do be really careful around people and pets though, even if you're acting safely others may put themselves in harm's way just because they don't know any better.

Quote:

I'm aware of this, and I find that some of their spears are quite pleasing to the eye. It does look like Albion or Arms & Armor are the way to go (Sorry, Mike! I'll probably still look into the Norman.)


If you have enough money you're not worried about it, go for it! AS and AA make really nice swords. I'm just cautioning you because if you want to do cutting and thrusting experiments you run the risk of damaging the weapon and the H/T's cost 1/5 of the AS or AA's. If it's just for display and dry handling then it doesn't matter so much.

Since you're interested in the Viking era you may also look at the H/T Viking which is built just as well as their Norman. The H/T Norman is suitable for the late Viking and early Medieval eras in a number of different cultures so it's flexible in that regard, the H/T Viking is an earlier style with more limited applicability but it's still a nice sword. Don't overlook Albion's Squire Line either, they've got a Viking model for under $500.


Quote:

Again, thanks a lot, guys. The information has been extremely helpful. I do have two more questions: Out of curiosity, what is your favourite waister. Do you prefer synthetic or wooden?


Wood wasters are more delicate than synths and they're also more dangerous, their blades break into sharp pieces that can easily injure someone. Purpleheart Armoury makes as good a waster as is available in either material.
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Beeching





Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 156

PostPosted: Mon 23 Nov, 2015 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dara,

If you are interested in learning to strike properly, you might consider a "throw-away" or beater sword to start with. A machete is not a bad suggestion, I guess, but make sure you grab a decent one if you go that route. A Fiskars machete (get the normal 22" one, not the saw-back variety) is made of carbon steel and has a pretty good grip on it. I think you can get them as low as $15 USD, and they are great tools to have around. Note that the Fiskars machete does not come with a scabbard. Ontario Knife Company makes pretty good products as well, though I'm not convinced their machetes would be worth the extra cost; whatever option you select if you go this route, a machete is still a shaped and sharpened piece of flat stock (that stays mostly flat) - I don't think you'll find the dynamics or nuances of a sword blade in this kind of weapon/tool, or most any modern knife, for that matter.

My recommendation for a good beater would be the Windlass Qama. I've recommended this one to several people in the past, actually, and I still stand by the recommendation. The sword is very inexpensive, will cost you $50 USD (I think it cost me $40 when I bought it), is built with a thick, sturdy diamond cross-section, and is made from a decent steel. The sword is held in a slightly different manner from the usual medieval swords you may think of, but I actually think it may be comparable to many early Viking/migration era swords in terms of use. It can also double as the "poor man's gladius" if earlier swords are of interest to you. It could also make for a great project sword at a very economical price...

As you're probably aware, there's no substitute for the real thing. If you want authentic-as-possible handling, you'll probably have to buy a higher-end sword. If you want to learn to use a sword in earnest, you'll also need a sword to abuse against a pell or swinging target, etc. Getting a good fechtbuch as soon as possible is also advisable - the various online resources are wonderful, but something you can sit down and study with just can't be beat. I envy you for having a practice partner - that's a person I've been without - thus, getting a good set of wasters is perhaps your first priority. I can't offer any suggestions for wasters, as I've not acquired any to date, but I personally think I'd buy a set of the Rawlings trainers for starters, as I feel they'd be safe for use with minimal protective clothing.
View user's profile Send private message
Houston P.




Location: United States
Joined: 20 Apr 2015

Posts: 65

PostPosted: Mon 23 Nov, 2015 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also will say that while I don't personally have any pieces from Hanwei, there is a member of my ARMA group that swears by his Rhinelander, and I have also heard good things about the Tinker line. If you are going for something to begin learning how to sharpen, re-finish, customize, or cut with, they certainly seem like they are exceptionally good for their prices. If you plan on doing something risky, they definitely aren't the sort of thing you'd shed a tear over scuffing or dinging. I was completely without training at the time I started collecting, so using the sword was not anywhere near my mind. Plus, I know if I did the slightest amount of damage to a piece I was satisfied with I would be devastated.
...and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭36‬) To be without silver is better than to be without honor. -Norse proverb
View user's profile Send private message
Harry Marinakis




Location: Kingdom of Æthelmearc
Joined: 30 Jul 2012
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 13 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 650

PostPosted: Mon 23 Nov, 2015 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You state that you are looking for historical arms & armor, which is a different animal than collecting reproduction arms & armor. Either way, the first step is to become very well educated on the subject. The second step is to clarify in your own mind whether you want historical pieces or reproductions. Eventually you will be able to answer your own question, and that's the point when you should consider your first purchase.
View user's profile Send private message
Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 230

PostPosted: Tue 24 Nov, 2015 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dara
I started by buying a couple of lower priced swords, roughly $300 range. That price range is real hit or miss territory, with a hit being something that is fairly acceptable and a miss being something sort of sad. One thing you can get out of that price range is the ability to refine the style or period of interest based on something actually in your hands rather than just pictures and reading. In your hands of course can involve cutting up large pumpkins and the like, the sort of things you wouldn't necessarily do with someone else's sword. I never used a practice sword, or waster, just cut up big pumpkins. Outside is a must...... I had the first one I got in the basement, and had to swing it a little - of course with a 36" blade contact was soon made with one of the floor joists above..... "What are you doing down there?" ......"Nothin..."
Of course after refining your target of interest you also realize that the quality and therefore price point moves up to the Albion or Arms & Armor range to satisfy your desire for something that handles more like the real thing, or perhaps above that level if you're looking for a custom one of a kind piece.
If you're like most of us you keep the earlier acquisitions anyway, and value the experience they provided, such as it was. Overall, I'd say is more the journey than the destination anyway.


Last edited by Greg Ballantyne on Tue 24 Nov, 2015 7:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Dara Mag Uiginn




Location: United States
Joined: 12 Nov 2015
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue 24 Nov, 2015 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg Ballantyne wrote:
Dara
I started by buying a couple of lower priced swords, roughly $300 range. That price range is real hit or miss territory, with a hit being something that is fairly acceptable and a miss being something sort of sad. One thing you can get out of that price range is the ability to refine the style or period of interest based on something actually in your hands rather than just pictures and reading. In your hands of course can involve cutting up large pumpkins and the like, the sort of things you wouldn't necessarily do with someone else's sword.
Of course after refining your target of interest you also realize that the quality and therefore price point moves up to the Albion or Arms & Armor range to satisfy your desire for something that handles more like the real thing, or perhaps above that level if you're looking for a custom one of a kind piece.


That's actually an idea I haven't heard before, or at least not heard that way. Are you saying that a beginner should buy cheaper pieces until he zeroes in on what he's comfortable with? Because for some reason that idea speaks to me.

On a side note, how do you guys feel about Darksword? I've heard a lot of SLO/Sharpened Crowbar arguments against them, while other people tout their durability. Is the handling, I don't know, off?

"It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards."
-Søren Kierkegaard
View user's profile Send private message
Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 230

PostPosted: Tue 24 Nov, 2015 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darksword represented a miss rather than a hit to me at the lower price point...... the blade is thick, unevenly tempered, a little wavy and uneven when viewed down the length. The furniture rough, and the grip inadequate. That'said been some years ago, maybe they're doing better these days, but I don't think I'll be finding out.
View user's profile Send private message
Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 230

PostPosted: Tue 24 Nov, 2015 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was more describing the path I took, rather than making a recommendation. I think there can be some value on that sort of path - there was for me. I was initially attracted to larger hand and a half or two handed war swords, but now have more interest in earlier one handed swords. Maybe I would have ended up the same if I had spent more money intially, but it would have taken longer......
View user's profile Send private message
Robert Frey




Location: Wausau, WI
Joined: 19 Nov 2013

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov, 2015 5:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If there is a place near where you live that sells swords, I would suggest making a road trip to try them out in person. How you imagine them feeling in movement is sometimes not how they really feel when you handle them. I found the trips I made well worth it.

I bought the synthetic waster first, and then the steel trainer. The sharp sword I want will come after that. I find the saying "Buy once, cry once" to be true, so get the higher priced sword you really want, don't settle for something less. If it means you have to save up for a longer period, it will be worth it in the end.

Be careful, you may find yourself with plans to buy three or more swords to cover all the periods you are interested in. Surprised
View user's profile Send private message
Dara Mag Uiginn




Location: United States
Joined: 12 Nov 2015
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed 25 Nov, 2015 6:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Frey wrote:
If there is a place near where you live that sells swords, I would suggest making a road trip to try them out in person. How you imagine them feeling in movement is sometimes not how they really feel when you handle them. I found the trips I made well worth it.


You know, I thought about that a while ago, but I figured that if I typed 'swords' into the Google maps search bar, I'd get a bunch of places selling wallhangers. I doubt anyone nearby has any serious stock. Do you know of any databases for that sort of thing? That could be the ticket, finding and handling things relatively locally.

By the way, I'm sorry if I'm crowding up the page with posts. I'm fairly new to the forum thing, so I don't quite know the etiquette, even though I read the rules.

"It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards."
-Søren Kierkegaard
View user's profile Send private message
Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 230

PostPosted: Thu 26 Nov, 2015 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you were to have occasion to be near Elgin, Illinois Kult of Athena would be a great place to look over offerings from different manufactures, at a number of price points.They have a large inventory in stock.
View user's profile Send private message
Robert Frey




Location: Wausau, WI
Joined: 19 Nov 2013

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 4:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The city and state you live in would help people let you know what's close to you. There is no database that I know of to let you know where the sword dealers and makers are.
View user's profile Send private message
Dara Mag Uiginn




Location: United States
Joined: 12 Nov 2015
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 7:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Frey wrote:
The city and state you live in would help people let you know what's close to you. There is no database that I know of to let you know where the sword dealers and makers are.


As far as I know, I'm fairly fortunate in my location. I live in Rhode Island, so Boston is a stone's throw away, and New York is a train ride. A few major East Coast cities are within reach of me. If anyone in my area knows of any scrupulous merchants, I'd love to hear about them. Supporting local businesses is something that I typically prefer to online or big name transactions. You guys have been very helpful so far.

"It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards."
-Søren Kierkegaard
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Recommendations for a beginner?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum