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War in the Oasis

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Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:15 am | Updated: 7:22 am, Wed Mar 23, 2011.

EPHRATA - Jennifer Schoenwald pushed on the helm of one of the fighters, dressed in a tabard and armor in Ephrata's Oasis Park.

"There are key points that you have to make sure are covered," she said. "They have to have kidney protection ... They have to have the elbows protected, their knees protected. Their helmet, when you push on it, you have to make sure the nose doesn't hit the grill of the helmet ... It's safety first."

Schoenwald was one of the marshals at the Society for Creative Anachronism's (SCA) War in the Oasis. The event was held Saturday in Ephrata.

The society is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe, according to its website.

The "war" was hosted by the Grant County chapter, known as Ambergard.

The members participated in several scenarios and generally were grouped by the area where they came from, Schoenwald said.

"People from the Tri-Cities area and people from the Spokane area are the two main sides that I see right now," she said. "First what they did is called a 'rez' battle. First you go out there, you play, you 'die,' you go back to a specific spot and get 'resurrected.' Then you go out and play some more."

The next combat added archers, she said. Other combat scenarios featured a castle wall and gate defended by one side as another tried to force their way in.

The event drew Scott Rankin, of Kent, to Ephrata to participate in the event. He has been participating in the organization for 13 years and fighting for three-and-a-half years, he said.

"I've done one combat sport or another since I was about 12 or 13," he said. "I started off with martial arts ... I've traveled as far as Pocatello, Idaho."

Rankin made his armor using leather from a saddle shop, hard plastic and metal segments for the elbows. The knee protection he purchased.

"I was just tired of using hand-me-downs and borrowed equipment," he said. "It doesn't fit right unless you make it yourself."

He joined the organization after friends invited him to events.

"I've always been out to at least one of these a year. I try to make it every other weekend," he said. "I like the camp outs, the camaraderie, the sport. Even if I haven't been participating, I've been watching the sport the entire time."

Sue Painter was taking photographs as fighters clustered around the wall and gate. She has been involved with the society for about 32 years.

"I enjoy the aspect of doing something that's different from your everyday life," she said. "For a lot of years, it was the type of thing that got you away from your everyday existence."

Her two sons, who are in their mid-20s, are still involved in the organization, she said, adding it's something they can do as a family.

"My husband and one of my sons are out fighting today," she said.

For more information, go online and visit www.sca.org.

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