There are many roles you can have within the regiment both on and off the field. Here we’re going to cover all the different ways you can get involved with the actual re-enacting. If you’re interested in off-field roles that help out with the logistics and behind-the-scenes there’s so much you can do to help from treasury and membership management to running the website and organising the parties. You’ll just need to ask someone about this at one of your first events if that’s what you’d like to do.
Initially there are 4 main things you can do on the field and we encourage all over 16s who are joining us to take part in one of these 4 things to start with.
Main Battlefield Roles
A pike is a 16-20ft long wooden weapon, they’re an Ash pole with a metal tip at the end which at the time were deadly. Don’t worry, on the field now we either have pikes with tapered wooden ends or rubber tips! They are used to protect the rest of the regiment mainly against cavalry and then ‘at point’ where they’re held out horizontally in front pointing at a block of enemy troops.
All you need to be a pikeman is a pikeman’s helmet called a morion, and a pike which is provided by the regiment and you’re away!
Our Shotte division is made up of Musketeers carrying muskets. These are smooth bore, muzzle loaded shotguns that use black powder to fire. To be a fully fledged Musketeer you’ll eventually need a black powder certificate and shot gun licence but you don’t need these at first. We’ll provide you with a replica musket to start with and take you through all the motions of firing the gun, for your first few events at least you’ll need your best shouting voices to shout ‘BANG!’ every time you pretend to fire.
As you become more adept at the process, you’ll have the opportunity to do live practise shots under the supervision of our established Musketeers and if you think Musketeering is for you, it’s now you’ll need to get your documents sorted.
Once you’ve got all your documentation and our musket officers think you’re ready, we’ll put you through your Musket Test. This is a society test to ensure you are safe to fire on the field, you’re playing with black powder after all so we need to know you’re safe! Once you’ve passed your test you’ll no longer be required to shout on the field, you’ll be going ‘BANG!’ for real.
At this point, you may want to consider investing in your own musket (we’ll provide you with a regimental spare until you do) and our current Musket Officers will be able to give you all the advice you need for this.
For now, turn up with a willingness to learn and you’ll be good to go.
Water Carrying is a non-combat role and the most important on the field. You’ll be following the army into battle and standing behind the pike and musket divisions carrying vital supplies of water and sweeties! You may also be asked to help out with things such as tying shoelaces and helmets, holding match (the small pieces of rope used to fire muskets) or passing messages to others on the field. It may not sound like much, but you are the lynchpin of this hobby and without our water carriers the rest of us would be nowhere!
It’s a fantastic way to see the battle from the thick of it rather than the sidelines, great for if you’re not sure what you want to do. It’s very much not a stepping stone though, there are many people who water carry for their whole battle field career and the fighting troops will forever be grateful to them.
You may want to join in the battle as a musician playing either a drum or a fife.
Drums were an essential communicative tool at the time, used to convey messages from officers to their troops as well as marching an army from A to B. The evocative sound of the drums on the battlefield is something that gets everyone’s adrenaline going ready for battle and it’s often the first sound of battle the audience will here as we march onto the field.
The majority of drummers are non-combatant but some do carry swords on the field when they’ve passed their sword test and get stuck in with some hand to hand fighting.
Fife players would also entertain the troops and will play along with marches on the way to and from the battle field. Those who play the fife often come on the field as another role and then join the drummers for the marches to play.
What else can I have a go at?
There are many other roles you can take on the field, both combative and non-combative. We do advise however that you start off as one of the 4 main roles to get some ‘battlefield experience’. It sounds a bit silly, but especially at big events battle fields do have an element of danger to them and they can be loud and confusing to start with. Once you’re used to being in that atmosphere then the roles below will always be open to you.
The cavalry are often the stars and icons of our events but it takes an experienced horse rider to make a great cavalry rider. There is one regiment of cavalry for each army and it’s something that is a great opportunity for those who are experienced equestrians already. Again, it comes with it’s own set of risks so it’s definitely a good idea to get an understanding of battlefield environments on foot before you get in the saddle. If it is something you’d be interested in, please ask one of the regiment when you’re at an event and we can tell you more.
Ever wanted to know what it feels like to fire an actual cannon?! Of course you do! Well now’s your chance to find out!
Many regiments within the society have their own artillery pieces and crew numbers are often short so anyone who wants to get involved with Artillery will be welcomed with open arms.
You’ll be practised in loading and firing the pieces, working as a team to show the full power of these magnificent weapons. At some point if you are looking to get involved with the artillery you’ll need to apply for a Black Powder Certificate (they’re free, but you’ll have to apply through your local police force) to be able to handle the gunpowder but to get started you’ll be able to learn the role with the guidance of the artillery experts.
Medics are another essential role on the field. From time to time we do get some battlefield injuries and our fantastic medic team is always on hand to help out an injured soldier. Anyone with a medical qualification of ‘First Aid at Work’ (3 days course) or higher can join the medic team. You’ll get all the support of the most senior medics when you join them and you can either spend your time on the field purely as a medic, or wear a medic’s patch on your fighting coat so that others around know you are trained and step in when you’re needed. If this is something that interests you, please speak to one of the members of the regiment at an event and we’ll point you in the direction of the SKMS, our medic team, for more information.
What if I don’t want to join in on the field?
That’s absolutely fine! It’s not compulsory to join in and it’s not compulsory to put 17th century kit on. As much as we encourage it, we understand it can be daunting and you may be coming along to support a partner or friend rather than be ready to join in yourself. You will still be welcomed whole-heartedly into the regiment and be able to relax around camp and enjoy all the social aspects this great hobby can provide.
If you do want to get involved but don’t want to take to the field, you can join in with the following things.
Living History & Cameos
If your passion lies in potraying 17th Century life without the fighting then you’ll be able to spend time on our Living History camps. These camps are open to the public during the events and display everything from cooking to weapons making. The camp is a hive of activity with people of all ages joining in. There is no obligation to camp in the authentic tents or spend your whole weekend on the camp, you can spend as little or as much time there as you like, everyone is welcome.
During the events there are often cameos taking place from those who like the more dramatic side of re-enacting. There is often the king and his entourage, vicars and priests giving sermons and court leets. Anyone who has a passion for amateur dramatics will be welcome to join in with this exciting and engaging role.
Battle re-enactments have the potential to provide some incredible photography and video opportunities. If photography is your thing, the team of photographers in the society will be glad to have you join in too and you’ll have an up-close view of the battle and a great opportunity to practise your skills. Please be aware that you may be asked by various regiments or the society to provide copies of your work that can be used on various websites, promo material, social media etc. We need to show everyone else what this fab hobby looks like!
I’m under 16, is there something for me to do?
Yes! Although you have to be 16 or over to fight on the field, there’s plenty to do until you reach that age.
If you’re under 9, you’ll spend the majority of your time playing with your new friends, which sounds fantastic to us! There are hundreds of children already in the society for you to make friends with and with plenty of adults around too, there’s usually someone willing to play with wooden swords or muskets or kick a ball around the camp with you.
You’ll also get to spend time in Living History camps, exploring the site and watching the battles take place.
Because it’s such a family-friendly hobby, you’ll grow up with loads of extra aunts and uncles and there’s always someone looking out for you. It also gives Mum and Dad the opportunity to have a 5 minute break!
The year you turn 9 is a great one, because you’ll be old enough to join the Apprentices.
The Apprentices-at-Armes are commanded by a lovely man called Geoff and he and other willing members of the society meet every morning of Major events at around 11am. Anyone can join in the year they turn nine and you can stay in Apprentices until you’re old enough to go on the field.
Whilst you’re there, you’ll get the opportunity to learn all about the weapons we take on the field and how to use them safely and you’ll get talks from other members of the society about anything and everything re-enacting. From a Musketeering expert to a member of the Cavalry, Geoff organises great things to do and learn about.
The Apprentices are a vital part of the society, often taking part in parades and running their own displays in the Living History camp to members of the public.
When you’re not in Apprentices you’ll be able to spend loads of time outside playing with friends, walk round Living History or the place we’re doing the event and watch the excitement on the battlefield (secretly working out how you’d fight better with all your Apprentice knowledge!).