Tactical Tailor

Blast From The Past – The Master-at-Arms Discontinued BSA Merit Badge

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
-Ju Jitsu
-Quarterstaff Fencing

Kirk Lawson has introduced a reproduction of the original merit badge pamphlet. The drawings come from this manual and you can buy a print version here and download an ebook here.

Interestingly, the pamphlet is dated 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?

6 Responses to “Blast From The Past – The Master-at-Arms Discontinued BSA Merit Badge”

  1. The Hobbit says:

    Very interesting. My only question was if it was popular?

  2. Mike says:

    In 2010, on the 100th anniversary of scouting, BSA brought back four of the original merit badges that had been discontinued: Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaller, and Tracking.


    Interestingly, “Tracking” was originally called “Stalker” but that now means something a little different, so they renamed it.

  3. Daggertx says:

    single stick, boxing and jiu jitstu is the way to go.

  4. Wookie says:

    This still frustrates me. I pulled my boys out of BOY scouts when a “SCOUT” troop in Valparaiso Indiana became a girl only troop. WTFO? It cannot be a boy only troop but it can be a girl only troop?

  5. AbnMedOps says:

    Back when Boys were Men!

  6. Also Mike says:

    @Mike, maybe they need one called “Tracking stalkers” 🙂