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måndag 1 juni 2009

Gunning the Saturday away - part 1

Saturday the event started for real. We had breakfast, and then went for the ice cream place. Italian ice cream is sooo good. I was a bit tired from the day before, but Dr Bob gave me something to drink that was supposed to restore the balance in my body - water, salt and sugar. It tasted so foul I almost threw up, mainly because lots of the salt and sugar was left in the bottom, and I got it all in my mouth, but also because of the unlikely mix of the taste of salt and sugar...

Kåre from Carnis had challenged a Polish guy to a fight, and that guy came to the camp, all geared up in a beautiful kit. He looked impressive and was polite and friendly, and I was glad I had that impression; it fuels my opinion that the Polish are actually very nice guys, only with different views on how to fight. Kåre was woken up, as he was still sleeping in the tent. Although probably really tired, he geared up, and they went to the field to settle the score, in all friendlyness. I didn't see it happen, but they hadn't been fighting for long until Kåre somehow was hit by the shield of the Polish guy. According to Dr Bob (who really is a doctor), Kåre's nose broke by the blow. And he wasn't happy about it. I can't remember all of it, but the Pole meant that Kåre did something he shouldn't do, and Kåre said, in his turn, that shield bashing is out of the question. At least they parted as friends. I think.

We went to Davide, one of the organizers, to fetch powder for the guns, and then we prepared priming powder by grinding some of it up in a mortar. We filled up the powder flasks, cut appropriate pieces of slow match, packed our gunners' bags and dressed up in full battle gear. Then we went out in the field. It was really hot. It was so hot Dr Bob couldn't stay outside - he sat boiling in the heat, trying not to collapse. The rest of us tried to be heroes (but remained only stupid) while we prepared to practice the art of gunnery. Yosef from Fraternis Militia Carnis didn't have much armour on, so he chose to fight alongside us. He became a welcome addition to the gunnery position, behind a sturdy pavise on our left flank.

Earlier we haven't had much of standardized commands for firing the guns and controlling the gun crews, so we started by making them up. They have a good feel to them, and some are borrowed or adapted from "genuine" Swedish army commands. And here they are (scroll down if you feel it is getting immensely boring):

Duka! ("Set up", when arriving at a firing position)
Gör klart att skägga! (When preparing to leave a firing position "Make ready to run like hell"), then
Packa! ("Pack up")
Ladda! ("Load!")
Fänga! ("Prime!")
Eld! ("Fire!")
Samtidigt eldöppnande - eld! ("Simultaneous fire - Fire!")
I tur och ordning - eld! ("One after another - Fire!")
Fri eldgivning - eld! ("Fire at will - Fire!")

Furthermore, we kitted our gunners' bags with the same set of equipment:

- Slow match
- A tool for holding the slow match
- A ramrod
- A bag full of wad
- A powder flask
- A small container with priming powder
- A mallet for packing the charge
- Means to light up the slow match
- A needle to clear out the priming hole if necessary

Then we plunged into it. We loaded, fired, loaded again, fired - I lost count on how many shots we fired, but I am pretty sure we kept going for at least 30 minutes. Yosef turned out to be an incredible loader - he was too quick for the rest of us. Just a shame he's a member of Carnis - not of Albrechts Bössor ;-)

Alex got to test fire his new monster gun. We used double the amount of powder and double the wad (we use tea bags as wad). At first it just kind of said "poof!" anyway, so we were more thorough when packing the charge, with small carpenters mallets I had bought especially for the occasion (these turned out to be kinda crappy, as they slid off the ramrod when we were packing the charge - we need to get new ones).

During firing, the guns became so hot we had to switch them for unused ones. The bangs made my new helmet resound with a faint clang, and when we eventually finished, the faces of our boys were covered in black powder grime and sweat.

Then our friends from Carnis took the field. They were practicing spear fighting, and we joined in. Kristoffer (aka "Dansken" - The Dane") was responsible for drilling the group, and he was hung over. Like really. Plus, his orders were in Danish, and built up in such a way that people got confused and a bit annoyed. When things didn't work out as he wanted, he screamed louder, and pushed us in the back, which made everyone much more motivated - not. The heat, and the fact that he made us trot around with presented spears (which is physically straining after a while) and the screaming (plus our half hour firing spree just before) made me wish I'd been somewhere else. Finally it all ended, and we could go back to eat.

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