Terry Duggan sits with me in the grass at Memorial Park as my 2-year-old daughter picks through swords, axes, halberds, maces, shields and a heap of pole arms.
As a weapons craftsman and cofounder of the Colorado Springs Melee team, Duggan creates foam facsimiles of medieval armory. The 31-year-old tapes pipe installation to fiberglass rods ordered from an electric-fencepost company. The foam then gets shaped into various blades with tape, resulting in realistic but safe weapons.
Within the combat group, different factions (Duggan's is called Legion of Phantos) use the weapons to fight one another, while referees ensure safety.
"People get angry and aggressive," Duggan admits. "We tell them to sit under a tree for a few minutes cool off."
Jason Bendinelli, 31, serves as referee for the Springs Melee. He and Duggan began playing melee at the age of 15. The sport, which harkens to before the Middle Ages, kept the two ruffians out of trouble and welcomed football players, stoners, skaters and anyone else.
When Duggan moved to the Springs from Oklahoma a little more than a year ago, the melee enthusiast met up with Bendinelli, who had moved here years before, also from Oklahoma, and the two decided to start melee in the Springs.
The faux medieval warriors hope to add high-school students to the 30-member team, which currently includes three women, older teenagers and some early twenty-somethings, among others.
"We want kids like us out here," says Bendinelli. "You get talking and they start sharing any kind of problems they're having. Maybe we could help."
Melee Colorado Springs
Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m.; no weapons, skills, pre-formed factions or special garb necessary.
Visit meleecombat.net for more.