The moral of the story is “Don’t cheap out on the gloves you attach to your gauntlets.”
Last night was our first “indoor” practice of the season — it’s getting dark too early to have an evening practice outdoors anymore — and we had a really good turnout. Eight fighters in armour and half a dozen fencers, including a new fencer coming out for the first time. There were also some folks new to the canton, if not the SCA, and everyone pitched in to help make the newcomers feel welcome.
I spent a fair bit of time getting one of our new fighters into loaner kit, then got into my own armour, looking forward to fighting a few good bouts. And that’s exactly what I got: a few good bouts. Like, three. It was my own fault this time, though: a couple of months back I replaced the gloves inside my mitten gauntlets and I bought what I can only describe as the cheapest piece-of-shit work gloves ever. I remember thinking at the time “Hmm, are these going to be okay?”
Short answer: No.
On my third bout last night, fighting against someone who’s been gone for a while and whom I was really looking forward to fighting, the glove inside my right gauntlet disintegrated. There really isn’t any other word for it: it looks like every seam along the back of my hand gave out at once; I was literally left with shreds of doped canvas and scraps of grey suede. When I cut the remains off of the metal it was stitched to, I had a messy handful of fragments and thread only vaguely resembling the original glove. As near as I can figure, the glove’s cuff caught in the seam of my vambrace (which hinges shut for full-cannon coverage of my forearm) and when I put too much of a stretch on it during a strike every seam gave out at once.
Needless to say, I’m feeling rather stupid about overriding my common sense for the sake of saving a couple of bucks: Fortunately, I wasn’t injured beyond a couple of pinches. The worst consequence was that I wasn’t able to get any more fighting in that evening, although one of the novice fighters chivalrously offered to give me the demigauntlet he was using so that I could keep fighting. (I declined on the grounds that he was only at his second practice and that it was my own damn fault.)
A little while back I mentioned that every fighter has stories of near-misses and almost-disasters on the SCA list field. Well, there’s a new story for me, I guess. I cheaped-out on a vital piece of protective equipment; if the worst I got was a scare that faded into feeling like a dumbass and having to sit out half a practice, I got off light.
And now I get to pick up a new pair of good-quality leather gloves and stitch them onto the leather tabs riveted into the gauntlets, and I have to do it before Saturday, so I can fight at this weekend’s event.