More Than Just a Forging Contest

The World Championship Blacksmiths (WCB) rolled into Dillon, Mont., Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, and so did 42 competitors from all over the United States, plus a handful of other countries.

The Dillon event was one of five such contests held during the year. Following a November clinic in Springfield, Mass., the WCB moves on to a contest in Athens, Ga., on Jan. 11 and 12, 2008, then holds its National Championship and Super Clinic in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 6 through 9 in conjunction with the Florida State Fair.

The WCB is a little like a traveling carnival, arriving in big trucks, hauling trailers full of equipment.

Up goes a huge white-and-yellow striped tent. Next come 10 forging stations, each with a coke forge, a 200-pound anvil, a sand-filled anvil stand and a tripod vise for hot rasping.

This way, all the competitors are working on identical equipment. It also makes traveling to contests much easier on the contestants.

In the WCB contests, everyone — regardless of skill level — makes the same shoes. At first this sounded like a bad idea to me. But the shoes were judged in four divisions, so there were four high-point winners, four best-shod-feet, etc. This meant the beginning/intermediate competitors had plenty of stepping-stones between them and the more seasoned competitors.

Striking Differences

Another key difference between WCB events and others is that much of the forging work involves the use of a striker. This fosters teamwork as well as mentoring.

X might strike…

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