FN Herstal

(Updated) Discontinued BSA Merit Badges : Master-at-Arms

This photo is said to be of Boy Scouts participating in the short-lived Master-at-Arms badge. It was one of the original 14 merit badges which debuted in the 1910 version of the Boy Scout Handbook and unfortunately, this one lasted just a year. The badge was missing from the 1911 version of the manual when it was released.


To earn the badge, a Scout had to master three of the following combat skills (the surviving manual says two):
-Single Stick
-Boxing
-Ju Jitsu
-Wrestling
-Gymnastics
-Quarterstaff Fencing

Update – Kirk Lawson has introduced a reproduction of the original merit badge pamphlet. The drawings come from this manual and you can download it here.

Interestingly, the pamphlet is adted 1925 but it would not be unheard of for a merit badge pamphlet to continue to be published even after it was no longer a merit badge because they were printed by private publishers at the time, and not by BSA.


Can you imagine such a merit badge today?

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25 Responses to “(Updated) Discontinued BSA Merit Badges : Master-at-Arms”

  1. Marcus says:

    In certain parts of the country it would fly. In other parts closer to the city detractors would have the ACLU sue on their behalf for “promoting violence” AKA to most people as learning to protect yourself.

    I remember at one time we had Scout organized turkey shoots and .22 matches. I’m not sure if that still goes on nowadays.

    • SSD says:

      The ACLU wouldn’t do that kind of suing. They’re interested in civil liberties. But always remember, your right to keep and bear arms is a civil liberty.

      Here in Tidewater Council we have a pretty good shooting sports program which includes an annual family campout weekend where families can bring firearms, including center fire rifles.

      • Marc says:

        Man, I wish our Council would have a program like that. Our Execs are too scared to push a full blown shooting sports program. It’s not politically correct.

        • RobCollins says:

          I’m not certain if it’s a council thing, but, on the troop level, that sort of program can be done. Our council starts Tiger cubs (7 year olds) out with rock throwing, sling shots, archery, and bb guns. My son, at age 7, has fired a .22, 17 HMR, and Sig 556. On going to camp last summer, he began to realize how much he’s done and taken for granted. (and how good Dad is at throwing rocks and shooting slingshots, I won a few ice cream cones that day, that my son, subsequently, ate…)

          Luckily, in Colorado, there are places in National Forests that recreational shooting can happen. Look into doing it on a smaller level, Marc, Den/Patrol level. Ideally with a 1:1 ratio of Dads:Scouts and a few range bosses. That way, consequences can be established appropriately, break the rules, no range time. My boys have done great with this, and no grabastic behavior happens. I’ll be waiting until Boy Scouts before leading group anything like this myself, but, with my son, he’s already done it. How he should. With his dad..

    • John Smith says:

      Cities….well put.

  2. FormerDirtDart says:

    Surprised you didn’t reference last years “Discontinued Merit Badges : Master-at-Arms” post, other than just stating (Updated)
    http://soldiersystems.net/2015/10/27/discontinued-merit-badges-master-at-arms/

  3. defensor fortismo says:

    honestly, I think I would be happy if they just brought back singlestick.

  4. chuck says:

    It sure would cut back on the bullying problem.

  5. Dellis says:

    Sadly a sign of times. No longer is kickball, dodgeball or most school yard games allowed anymore as the nanny patrol fears it will incite “bullying”.

    Hell I am not sure kids even have recess anymore?

    Let’s have really fats kids that are just slightly smarter, if that, and then send them home to sit and play xbox while updating Facebook!

  6. JKifer says:

    this should be brought back.

  7. Jon, OPT says:

    I don’t see this any different than numerous martial arts guns that cater to all ages. It’s not being forced on anyone, I strongly doubt it would have pushback at all.

  8. james says:

    We have all heard the phrase ‘we grew up in different times’ and unfortunately those times included teaching our children to defend themselves… not to fight, but rather to know when to stand up for themselves and to have the skill set to do so…

    Scouting taught me many things, the greatest was supporting a strong moral compass… no video game or internet video will provide such an important part of growing up.

    • SShink says:

      Kids who stand up for themselves also might stand up to the gubmint, and we can’t have that – hence, the pussification of generations.
      I’m with you on Scouting bringing a strong moral compass – that’s few and far in-between with today’s 20-somethings. They’re mostly confused.

      • RobCollins says:

        SShink says:
        October 31, 2016 at 13:15
        “….hence, the pussification of generations.
        ….today’s 20-somethings. They’re mostly confused.”
        You either:
        1. read too much of the wrong media
        2. are around a lot of pussified kids
        I avoid both, and do what I can to mold my Cubs. (granted, 8 year olds) I’m really lucky, I have 15 in my Wolf Den, and dads ALL want to be involved. (and have a few Eagle Scouts among us, and a few backpack hunters besides myself to boot)

        Our country kicks ass at raising strong young men and worthless mass media….

        • SShink says:

          I’m glad to hear that somewhere there is a bastion of hope. In the northeast and west coasts, there is a big problem. Sounds like you’ve never been to a kids sporting event where everyone gets a trophy or seen gym class where nobody wins at kickball.

          You probably live in a bright red state AND either:
          1. read too much?
          2. are in a career position where you don’t hire people or have direct reports that come from the general population.
          In my professional experience, I’ve hired a few Eagle Scouts (thought they were qualified) and they turned out to be some of the biggest card-carrying liberals I’ve ever come in contact with – they see the constitution as a nuisance and think work is a place you go to pass time. They simply don’t understand the value transaction that comes with getting a paycheck.

          • SSD says:

            I’m sorry to hear about that experience. I can really only be responsible for my own kids. These days Scouting is rife with helicopter parents.

  9. james says:

    sorry, fortunately those times…

  10. FormerActionGuy says:

    The BSA once taught young boys to be men. Now they turn out perfect little PC wussies.

  11. Wade says:

    It would have to also be offered with a “Crying” badge.

  12. Aaron says:

    That would be an awesome merit badge to have!!!