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Volume 24 - Page 13 of 16 May 2001
ABANA Anvil Firing Controversy
Photo (c) 2001 Randal Guess, The Shot heard around the world!
LOGIC FAILS to support the actions of the ABANA board. They have taken a phylosophical stand and tried to support it with excuses rather than logic.

DANGER - They state that it is a dangerous activity. However, they do not ban other dangerous activities. Common ones that are often found at a blacksmithing conference.

  • Firing black powder arms, long rifles and cannons.
  • Operating Little Giant Power hammers without a spring guard.
  • Traditional Fireworks
  • Operating an iron foundry
  • Hot Cutting with or without a hardy (I have horror stories to tell. . .)
Other possibilities (dumb things men do):
  • Shoeing wild horses
  • Rattlesnake Roundup
  • Jousting, sword fights (demonstrations)
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Car racing
The fact that they have picked on ONE activity shows that there is no real concern for possible hazzards. A ban on dangerous activities duplicating the list provided by the an insurance company would be logical. A ban on all activities involving gunpowder, black powder, explosives and fireworks world be logical. But banning ONE activity with no concern about others is not logical.

This takes us back to it being a phylosophical stand.

"We don't do horeshoes, and we don't shoot anvils"

MISSION - repeatedly Doug Learn and others of the board have stated that anvil shoots are not part of ABANA's "mission". This may be true if you read the ABANA by-laws literaly they state:

The Corporation is organized exclusively for educational purposes, including the following: to encourage and facilitate the establishment of training programs for aspiring smiths; to disseminate information about sources of material and equipment; to expose the art of blacksmithing to the public; to serve as a center of information about blacksmithing for architects, interior designers, other interested groups and the general public.
There is no mention of preserving the traditions or history of blacksmithing. Those are not part of ABANA's "mission".

However, "traditional methods" has been the motto and drum beat at the core of everything ABANA has done. ABANA has continoiusly made those that use "non-traditional" methods such as arc welding feel that they are unwanted in the organization. Several years ago an article by the late Francis Whitaker stired up a huge amount of resentment when it stated that those that didn't forge weld were not "real blacksmiths".

ABANA's support of its "Journeyman Program" is another program supporting traditional methods while it itself is a long forgotten tradition.

So, ABANA DOES support traditional methods and traditional systems even though they are NOT part of the "mission" but will not support other "traditions".

CONTROL - Control of the chapters or freedom of the chapters to do as they see fit has been pointed as the crux of the problem. As mentioned above, the insurance company wanted ABANA to have more control over the chapters.

In this regard there are many problems. The structure of many of the chapters is that they are independent corporate entities that are setup as non-profit organizations. They are seperate entities that are members of the larger group. Most chapters do not recieve funding from ABANA nor other direct support.

So what ABANA is saying is that for "membership" in the larger group they give up freedom to make all their own rules. In fact that is a condition of being an ABANA Chapter.

BYLAWS: Section 2 (f) A statement, signed by the chapter president, that the chapter agrees to abide by the applicable ABANA by-laws and other structured operating procedures.
So, Chapters give up certain rights for membership AND the title of "ABANA Chapter". THAT is logical and fair. How the board of directors treats the chapters is another thing but they have the right to ask chapters to follow their rules. Since following those rules is a requirement to be a chapter then the board has the right to remove chapters from the rolls that do not follow those rules.

In fact, individual members have more rights than do the chapters.

However, SERBC is not an ABANA Chapter. Their events are not advertised as ABANA events nor supported by ABANA. The SERBC Board may be made up of people that are members of ABANA or ABANA chapters but this still does not make it an ABANA event any more than it makes it a Boy Scout or NOMMA event.

Concluded on Page 14

ABANA chapters policy forum (public)

ABANA By-laws
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May 2001 Edition
Comments to: Jock Dempsey
Copyright © 2001 by Jock Dempsey
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