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Blacksmithing News and Events
Coat of Arms from the town of  Eskilstuna, Sweden
Volume 24 - Page 11 of 16 May 2001
ABANA Anvil Firing Controversy
7 Chapters disenfranchised
Photo (c) 2001 Randal Guess, The Shot heard around the world!
Continued from pages 1 and 10 . . .

THE events: In the summer and fall of 2000 there were heated arguments between ABANA and FABA relative to their announced anvil shoot at their fall conference. Tim Ryan an ABANA board member was going to perform the shoot as he had for many years in the past. This would be FABA's 14th anvil shoot. Tim had been taught how to do an anvil shoot by Floyd Daniel a founder of ABANA and SERBC.

Sometime between the July board meeting and the October meeting the Board tried to have FABA removed from ABANA and Tim Ryan removed from the Board.

FABA President Patty Draper requested clarification of the policy and details of the ABANA insurance policy that was repeatedly used by board members to support their position. ABANA did not have a current copy of the policy and its delayed recipt was seen as a refusal of information by Patty. At this time Patty sent letters (anvilfire NEWS vol 22 p.2) to all the Chapter Presidents explaining the situation and the fact that the ABANA board was trying to have FABA thrown out of ABANA over the anvil shoot issue. More hot letters were exchanged between FABA and ABANA board members. On October 15th FABA had their anvil shoot.

During these exchanges people were directed to documents on the ABANA website. However, at that time the pertainent documents were in the "members only" area which required one to be an ABANA member (chapter members are not full members) and a password issued by the site administrator. Since these were supposedly "public" documents we reproduced them in the anvilfire NEWS. These documents are now on the public side of the ABANA web site.

During the October 16-18 ABANA board meeting several motions were put forward regarding anvil shoots. One would revoke Chapter status between the time the anvils were setup to fire and the other would make the act of taking part in an anvil shoot an act of resignation by an ABANA officer or board member.

that if any ABANA chapter prepares an anvil for an "anvil shoot" at any gathering, then that ABANA chapter/organization will be removed from the rolls of ABANA as a chapter. The removal will be effective at the time the anvil is prepared and before any actual shooting of the anvil.

that Officers and Directors of ABANA who personally prepare an anvil for an anvil shoot, or who perform, organize and/or encourage an anvil shoot at an ABANA related event or any event that could be interpreted as being an ABANA related event shall be deemed to have thereby offered their resignation from office and from the ABANA Board of Directors. They will immediately step down from their ABANA Board position. That person/those persons will be barred from sitting on the ABANA Board for a period of five years from the time of the offense or removal.
Both were tabled for later discussion. Neither were voted on. There are many questions about the legality of the resolutions. ABANA's insurance company refused to renew their policy stating that ABANA needs to "control its chapters". However, there is no specifics about anvil shoots in the denial.

Meanwhile winter passed and the spring conference season started to warm up. At the SERBC board meetings:

. . . seven ABANA chapter sponsors of the Madison conference were given the option of objecting to an anvil shoot being conducted at the conference. If any chapter objected, the shoot would not be held. The Madison conference (Southeastern Regional Blacksmith Conference, Inc.) board approved this at its preconference meeting on March 10, 2001. LeeAnn Mitchell attended the meeting and presented the board with a letter from Doug Learn reiterating his position that the 1997 anvil shoot policy applied to the Madison conference and suggesting that bad things would happen to errant chapters. One of the board members commented,
"Well we are going to miss ya'll honey"
The board members present at the meeting voted unanimously to conduct the shoot, but since three of the seven chapters were not present at the meeting the opt out provision was provided. None of the other three objected.
Now this was not entirely true. Mark Linn AFC President sent a letter to the SERBC board stating that their membership had voted (closely) to follow the rules set by the ABANA board. The letter was sent as an attachment in MS Word format. Now, this is a problem. People easily forget that not everyone uses MS products (I'm one that doesn't). The fact that the letter couldn't be opened wasn't communicated to Mark and he assumed his message had gotten through.

At the conference two of the remaining three chapters brought their vote to support the shoot if there was sufficient insurance coverage to support the event. There was, and that brought the vote to 6 to 1. A poll was distributed among the attendees of the conference and a vast majority voted for the shoot. At the auction the night before the shoot it was announced that there would in fact BE a shoot.

LeeAnn Mitchell the ABANA executive secretary removed her display and promotional material and left the conference the following day. The SERBC did not ask her to leave. This was a decision made by LeeAnn and/or ABANA. She asked the Alabama Forge Council to pull out of the conference which was quite disturbing. The Alabama Forge Council did not support the anvil shoot and its officers stayed away from the area where it was conducted, confining themselves to their tent during the shoot. The AFC had a job to do at the conference and did it well. Asking them to abandon the conference was improper conduct on the part of ABANA. ABANA's also requested that anyone on their demonstrator list pack up and leave at any meeting where there is going to be an anvil shoot. The demonstrators were polled to make sure they would not leave and SERBC was assured they were committed to demonstrate regardless of the anvil shoot.

Continued on Page 12 

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May 2001 Edition
Comments to: Jock Dempsey
Copyright © 2001 by Jock Dempsey
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