Best Practices for Reenactors
I like to think that I tend to hang out with a pretty on-the-ball group of reenactors, no matter what period I’m doing. This hobby means a lot to me, and I’m always trying to help new reenactors start out on the right foot, and good reenactors to become even better reenactors. With that in mind, I have polled my friends and asked what they would consider to be “best practices” for those wanting to be good reenactors. The answers range in topic from authenticity, to research, to generally being a nice person. I think that there’s something here for pretty much everyone, because there’s always room for improvement.
Without further ado, here you go!
It’s hard to narrow down, since every period has differences. But overall I think a good practice for reenactors portraying military roles should be in decent physical shape. But of course life makes that hard to do sometimes.
Don’t bring the “patio set”. If you couldn’t carry it for miles on the march, it’s excessive and very likely, incorrect.
Have an open mind with a personal mission of continual education and improvement.
Right or not at all.
Try and keep a 3 day shave or less!
Research before opening your mouth to criticize.
Keep up with the scholarship. By which I mean “don’t just rely on a 30 year old popular history”.
Pick a role, do your research and then do your absolute best to do that role as best you can.
Be merciful on those just starting out.
Don’t copy others around you, find out what was common and wear that.
If you make it yourself, make it to the very best of your abilities and don’t rush it. If you buy it, be smart about it.
Be humble. Start at the bottom, pay your dues, earn your rank. Never self-bling.
Don’t copy crap. Ask for documentation prior to copying someone in the field just because you (or they) think it’s correct.
Do no harm.
Avoid reenactorisms….just because the stitch-nazis tell you something “WAS THIS WAY” or because everyone is doing something, does not mean you should. Your own research is key.
Remember to act like a soldier when you are playing one. Also, learn to sew.
When you have down time, don’t whip out a cell phone: instead make any repairs that need to be made, clean your weapon if you are doing a military impression, and if all manual work is done, write a letter, talk among people, or play a period correct game.
It all goes back to “be the person you are trying to be” and use respect for that person in the process. You’ll do far better at your portrayal.
Research first – reenact second.
Make a solidly documented and comfortable suit of civilian clothing appropriate to your period, and wear it more than you do battles or wear military stuff.
Don’t be an asshole.
Ask for documentation on everything, no matter how knowledgable the person is (or is thought to be). Not because they might be wrong, but because you should always have the original proof to show others. I heard it from so-and-so means nothing and leads to the phone game.
What on here do you feel you could personally work on? Myself, I need to be a bit better about doing my own research. Granted, when I ask people for advice, I tend to go to people that are trusted in their field, but I still should be doing more work on my own instead of relying on the reenactor equivalent of a secondary source.
What do you feel should be included on a list of “best practices” for reenactors?