Events are scheduled throughout the year. Coming up in July are a weekend "pillage practice" and "Midsommer Mischief." The largest event — the two-week, interkingdom Pennsic War — draws more than 10,000 participants to a campground in Slippery Rock, Pa., each year.
SCA takes battling seriously. Armor is not optional. Weapons are solid and heavy, and helmets must be made of steel. Fehr works to protect the rest of the body.
He's been fighting in armor since 1990, when he was 16, and making it since 2005. All his gear meets or exceeds SCA criteria.
"I have been refining my patterns and processes for decades," he said via email. "The most difficult part was creating the molds to form over. We would come up with all sorts of crazy techniques and eventually settled on a combination of poured plaster-of-Paris and sculpting the end results into something that we could use."
But the IT manager has learned a thing or two over the years. The crazy techniques are "a far cry from my process these days, which involves 3D computer modeling, 3D printing and resin casting," he said. However, "the vacuum forming equipment itself hasn't changed much. I still use a homemade wooden box platen and a consumer-grade Shop-Vac."
"My focus is on the performance aspects of armor and not so much the aesthetics. So, what I produce is meant to be protective, low-profile, agile and durable."
He said HDPE is the best material for the job.
"I like HDPE for its impact resistance and strength," he says on his website. "HDPE is less likely to shatter than ABS or other super-rigid plastics. Complex curves are vacuum-formed, rather than cut and bent, maximizing their strength."
HDPE also has excellent force-dispersal properties, he noted.
Fehr sells his wares at events and online, including basket hilts; elbow and knee coverings; pauldrons, rerebraces and vambraces — or coverage for the shoulder, upper arm and forearm; thumb guards; and shield baskets. He attends six to 12 official SCA events each year, plus weekly practices and unofficial gatherings.
"It has been a big part of my life for many years," he said, adding that his involvement in SCA grew out of a love of reading historical fiction and fantasy novels.
"I was also an avid role-playing gamer (i.e., Dungeons and Dragons) so when I saw an SCA combat demo at a gaming convention, I knew I wanted to be a part of it."
But wait, there's more.
"Plus, if I'm being honest, there was a really cute girl behind the demo table, and I wanted to get a chance to talk to her."
Years later, they met again and they've now been married 23 years.
In fact, Ivar the Black and his wife, Asney Grimolfrsdottir (known as Christine Fehr outside the SCA), have ruled as king and queen of Avacal, twice. The title is earned in battle — thus, the importance of armor.