Full contact jousting is not your typical Agribition event. It’s also no dinner theatre performance either. This is real jousting with the Knights of Valour. Envision armoured men galloping towards each other on horseback. With combined speeds of up to 50 miles an hour, they smash 11-foot-long wooden lances into each others shoulders (into a bolted metal target called the gran guard.) The impact is serious, as the force of the lance strike equates to about 5000 pounds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhcHNR-3R0Q But it’s all in good fun. The purpose is to strike the opponent with the lance to score points. One point is awarded for a touch with the lance. Five points are awarded for shattering the lance against the opponent and 10 points are given if the jouster fully unhorses the other competitor. After five rounds, the winner moves forward in the tournament until a champion is crowned. This particular type of sport jousting is called Realgestech. It became popular in the 1600s when knights were no longer used on the battlefield. Today, Shane Adams is the owner and captain of the Knights of Valour. His team shares the sport of jousting with audiences all over North America at tournaments, fairs and events. This is their fourth year being part of Canadian Western Agribition. My friend (and Knights of Valour jouster) Tyler Bekolay invited me to Agribition to get a first-hand account of what it’s like to prepare and train as a competitive jouster. Tyler has been an active member of the Knights of Valour for more than five years. When I asked him what he loves about it, a big grin broke across his face as he laughed and told me that “a bit of insanity helps, but it’s a heck of a ride. There’s a thrill to it – the adrenaline – and the enthusiasm of the crowds as well.” Tyler took me behind-the-scenes at the arena in Evraz Place to show me how the crew prepares for the evening competition. He demonstrated how to properly tuck an 11-foot-long Douglas fir lance tightly beneath my arm. With 10 pounds of weight spread across the entire length, it was a lot heavier than I expected. Tyler also let me gear up in a real suit of armour. It weighs a lot - between 90 and 150 pounds. With the stainless-steel helmet on, there was barely a quarter inch of visibility and the arc of view was only about 120 degrees. But I admit, putting the armour on made me feel nearly invincible, particularly when I got to experience a hit first-hand. Swinging a metal sword straight into the belly of my armour, the impact of the sword reverberated a little throughout the suit, but I was completely unharmed. But a sword is much different than the hit of a lance. Sometimes the armour gets damaged so the team travels with their own official armoursmith. Tim Tobey personally designs and forges each suit of armour. It can take more than 300 hours of work and from six months to a year to complete, depending on how elaborate each suit is. When the armour gets damaged, Tobey re-shapes and assembles it all back together. It takes an entire team of people passionate about medieval history, horseback riding and jousting to pull off each performance and competition. But the audience at Agribition loves it. And for Shane Adams and the Knights of Valour, it’s one of their biggest audiences of the year to compete in front of.