Friday, May 4, 2012

History of Shields

Types of shields
Used for thousands of years from all corners of the globe, shields have been a means of protection from attack by either stopping projectiles such as rocks arrows or bullets or by redirecting or slowing down a blunt hit from a sword, club mace or axe. Over time, shields became much more than a means of protection, and represented an allegiance or a social status. Although not as utilized as much in the modern world, shields still serve many cultural and practical purposes and hold major unnoticed roles in our day to day lives.

Early Shields

The oldest forms of shields were sometimes made of metal, but were usual constructed out of wood or animal hides. They often served not only in combat, but also as a means of shelter. Shields reached their height of importance during the early European Middle Ages, as shields were made out of small round sheets of metal. This immediate method of protection when linked together formed a wall of protection, and gave way to early forms of battlefield tactics.

Middle Age Shields

Over time, the simple small and circular shield was replaced by the kite shield, which led to the heater shield style which is often the prevailing image we have of middle aged shields. These shields were more durable and quite often these shields served as symbolic purposes, as they would hold the family crest or another symbolic image across the shield. The decline of the use of shields came with the entrance of gunpowder propelled objects. Although quite simple, and only capable of shooting one shot at a time, early rifles could pierce both shields and armor rendering them useless.

Modern Shields

Modern shields used today are professionally constructed and are usually intended for two purposes in the law enforcement industry. Riot control shields are made from metal and polymers, and offer protection from low velocity but heavy objects such as rocks, bottles and bricks. They are also an effective means for blocking or pushing back large crowds of people. The second purpose of the modern shield is for bullet protection purposes. These shields are much heavier and less mobile, and are made out of advanced synthetics that make them bulletproof or bullet resistant.

Non-Combat Shields

Excluding combat shields from the picture, shields are built and maintained to shield us from heat and harmful radiation. Nuclear power plants would not be able to exist with advanced shields to prevent harmful radioactive waves from entering our bodies. The same goes for lead shields used every day in dentists' offices and medical centers to reduce the long term damage X-rays have on the human body.

This article was contributed by Pro-Tec Equipment, manufacturers and distributors of trench shields and other trench shoring products.

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