Leather arm bracers are not just for show or costume; they were designed to protect an archer's arm and are still widely used today. The decorations may be different, but the functionality remains the same. When an archer released his pull on the bow string, the string snaps forward releasing the arrow; if the arm is not protected it can be caught by the string or cut by the fletching of the arrow. The bracer also serves to keep loose clothing from interfering with release of the bow string. Whatever material you choose to make your bracer out of, as long as it offers protection you can't go wrong.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Flexible ruler
- Card stock
- Heavy leather
- Bowl of warm water
- Paper towels
- Leather punch
- Leather ties
Determine how large you want your bracer to be. The bracer was originally designed to protect an archer's lower arm while shooting and traditionally covers the area from the wrist just below the elbow. You can adjust it for your own comfort.
Measure the diameter of your wrist, the middle of your forearm and the top of the widest part of your forearm. Then measure the length from your wrist to the widest part of your arm, just below your elbow on the inside of your arm.
Use a pen to draw the measurements onto a piece of card stock. Draw a line equal to the length you want your bracer to be. At the bottom of the line draw a second, perpendicular line equal to the diameter of your wrist. The vertical line should intersect the line in the centre. Draw a second line equal to the measurements of the middle of your forearm half way between your first line and the top of the vertical line. Draw your final parallel line at the top where the top of the vertical line is. It should be equal to the diameter of your forearm at its widest part. Connect the ends of the three horizontal lines. The resulting figure will look like a trapezoid.
Cut out the pattern you just drew on the card stock and copy it to a piece of leather. It is always better to err on the side of caution and cut your pattern a little larger than you need it. You can always trim it down later.
Soak the leather in a bowl of warm water until it is saturated. This is a traditional method of hardening leather. After several minutes take the leather out and pat it dry with a cloth or paper towel. Wrap the leather around your arm where you would place the brace and confirm the fit.
Use a leather punch to add several holes on each side of the leather down the length of the bracer. Place the holes at least half an inch from the edge, and half an inch from each other.
Soak the leather again for several minutes. Take the leather out and pat dry. Tie the leather bracer around your arm by lacing the leather ties through the holes the same way you would lace a sneaker. Pull the bracer snug and let the bracer dry on your arm. This will give you a custom fit.
Tips and warnings
- Add decorations to your bracers by using leather stamps, or rivets. If your bracers become uncomfortable, they can always be re-soaked and formed to fit your arm again. If you are using the bracers for their intended purpose as an archer, make sure you keep the lacing short and neat so they don't interfere with your shot.
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- Living History: Making Leather Training Gauntlets: John Looney
- Leiden University: Bracers or Bracelets? About the Functionality and Meaning of Bell Beaker Wrist-guards: Harry Fokkens: 2008
- The Archery Library: Archery, Its Theory and Practice: H. A. Ford, 2nd Edition, 1859
- SCA Today: SCA Armor - A How-To Manual: Aoife: June 2005