Historical reenactments are a popular hobby throughout the world. They allow participants to dress up in period costumes and engage in different activities from the past. When it comes to combat reenactments it is very common for participants to wear armour. This is because it has been an important part of historical warfare from ancient times until the 18th century.
Modern metalworkers have access to a plethora of useful tools. This makes crafting armour much easier than it would have been centuries ago. Some smiths like to stay faithful to the techniques of old. Whereas others take advantage of modern technology. Armour can now be made cheaper and more effectively thanks to the availability of diverse metals and alloys. Numerous companies utilise industrial methods in order to mass-produce armour. Alternatively, customers could go to an independent smith who will create bespoke designs for them.
Wearing heavy plate armour for extended periods of time can have an adverse effect on a person’s health. If people are worried they can look up the symptoms of osteoarthritis and how long term armour use could be a contributing factor. Joint conditions could potentially be developed.
There is also a chance that participants strain their muscles due to the heaviness of what they are wearing. Stretching exercises can minimise the risk of this. So too can taking off heavy pieces during breaks between reenactment sessions.
Smiths will often follow historical designs in order to stay faithful to the reenactment of a particular time period. If the armour is anachronistic it can ruin the immersion for both the participants and spectators. A number of designs are well known to the general public. This includes the Roman Centurion and standard medieval knight.
However, other types of historical armour are more difficult to create. This is because examples of them and documents describing them are hard to find. In these cases, the smith may have to get creative and make their best approximation of the armour based on the scarce sources available to them.
Fantasy Role Playing
In recent years armour has also been used extensively for a new kind of social hobby. Live action role playing (or LARPing) involves people portraying fictional, often fantasy-based characters. Whilst these characters are not real life historical figures their clothing will be inspired by designs from the past.
LARPing armour is a lucrative business for smiths. It has helped to reinvigorate what was once a dying industry. Recent fantasy movies and TV shows have also contributed to this. For example, role players may commission a smith to build Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones inspired armour. It seems likely that in the future demand for LARPing armour will even outmatch historical reenactment armour.