Since the dawn of man, we’ve settled arguments with blood. As we progressed as a society, we kept the violence but relegated it to certain areas: the battlefield, the sporting arena or the home. A tradition that exists in almost every culture is dueling. The act of challenging a rival to a violent contest to help decide an issue or argument. The joke is that someone offends your honor and then you are left with no choice but to duel them. Either way, it’s going down, so we better be ready. This is the ScoreBoredSports guide to dueling. En garde.
A duel is a head-to-head game with a tight set of rules. Movies and television may have you misinformed. First off, the challenge. You do not need to slap someone in the face with a glove but you should make your intentions clear and in front of a crowd. This last part is key, you need witnesses, people who can attest that you didn’t just kill someone in cold blood. This can be theatric, but take it seriously, because someone is going to get hurt at the end of it.
After the challenge is issued by the first party, it is customary for the second party to choose the weapon. The dueling tradition started in Europe hundreds of years ago, so the popular weapon was a sword. A fencing blade called a rapier. Other hand weapons have been used but blades dominated, later pistols were added to the mix. Back to the rules, both parties agree on a time and the old school pay-per-view is set. Often these negotiations were done by appointed helpers called “seconds” so the angry parties didn’t have to see or talk to each other. How dramatic.
Most duels were not to the death. These terms were also ironed out. Traditionally, sword battles were to first blood. The idea being death could maybe happen and even playing in the arena proved how serious you are. The audience also has a responsibility to make sure no one gets over excited and goes for the kill after the duel has been won.
When pistols are being used, some new terms must be agreed upon. How many paces away each shooter shall stand. How many shots each may fire. If both players miss and the challenger of the duel is satisfied then the duel is over. If not, they reload and start again. But more than three rounds of firing is considered low class and bloodlusty.
Dueling was cool. European nobility loved the sport and it was all the rage. So much so, that when men suffered a cut from a duel they would put a piece of string in the cut and let it heal over, then rip out the string and let it scab over again. The result was this double textured, wavy scar. It was the tribal tattoo of 1500’s Germany and it got those dudes laid like crazy.
Aaron Burr famously dueled Alexander Hamilton back in 1804. The two loaded their pistols and took their positions. Different reports claim different events but Hamilton fired first, into the air. Maybe a misfire or maybe him wasting his shot as a statement. Then Burr leveled and fired. Hit Hamilton who died the next day from the wounds.
Speaking of duels and American history, let’s mention president Andrew Jackson. This dude loved dueling. He was the LeBron James of dueling. His career stats are sick. Jackson competed in 103 duels and has 1 kill that we know about. A horse breeder named Charles Dickinson insulted Jackson and claimed he welched on a bet. They loaded their pistols and got down. Dickinson hit Jackson in the chest, a wound the man would carry for the rest of his life. He then shot back, the pistol misfired which should have ended the duel but Andrew took another shot and killed Dickinson. Not only is that totally against etiquette but it should have been against the law. Jackson was not charged with murder and the duel had little effect on his presidential campaign. Hell it probably helped.
The first most important piece of advice is try and think clearly. If you are the challenger then remember, they pick the weapon, so don’t get all mad at the master swordsmen or the gun nut. Don’t start shit with anyone you can’t beat because you might just get killed over something stupid.
If you are in a pistol duel then it you need to focus on aiming. Not going to say to fire first or second, both have their advantages but neither are successful if you didn’t take proper time to calm yourself and line up a clean shot.
Sword battles are much less cut and dry. The advantage goes to the player who lets the attack come to them and waits for the counter strike. Storming in, blade swinging will not only tire you out but will open you up to easy hits. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
If a crazy killer challenges you to a dual and you need to level the playing field, pick an insane weapon like a boomerang and stipulate you can only compete at midnight, on a blue moon, on an even day of the week. Just tell them it’s part of your religion. They’ll believe you. Maybe it will never happen or maybe both of you can fail and call the duel over. Either way, no one dies.
Dueling should come back in style. We already have too much violence on the streets, this way we can stop the randomness and let the players play. Everyone sort out their own issues. Just don’t come challenge me. I’ve been sword fighting since kindergarten.