I've talked a little bit about the range game here and there, but I haven't really broken it down. Sir Kenneth has a great write up, but it is buried deep in the dark abyss of the Bel boards. If I can find a link, I'll put it here.
Lets start with the basics, your range. Your own range will eventually be second nature to you, especially after using the same weapon for a long time. However, a few key points:
1. Your maximum range is when your arm is at full extension parallel to the ground
2. You can increase your range by moving your center of mass towards the target. This includes lowering it for legs shots.
3. The position of your shoulders affects range. In line with the target brings you closer. Squared up loses range.
4. Footwork is vital to controlling range. Stepping towards the target during a swing adds a substantial amount of range.
With a static target (guinea pig), from your normal stance, hold your weapon strait out towards them. Step forward until you can just barely touch. Now point your sword down towards the leg. No where close to being in range. Now bend your knees, shift your weight forward, and twist your shoulder towards the leg. Notice how much extra range you just gained, without even stepping in.
Once we know are own effective range, lets look at our opponent. Start with the target's torso just out of reach with your weapon extended. Now have them do the same. Notice
that either of you are in range of each other's arm. This should be a good reminder of how your opponent's range changes based on what targets you present. Also illustrates the danger inherent in swinging at targets outside of your range.
Now of course, weapon choices vary greatly from person to person and place to place. You and your opponent might have a drastic difference in range. Lets look at the ranges each of you can be at:
1. Both out of range and safe by a few steps. (like the maneuver phase of a line fight)
2. Long range: neither are in range, but two steps gets you in target.
3. Mid-long range: easily within a step of being in range, both are now at risk of being rushed. (stalemate phase of a line battle)
4a. Mid Range: You have a longer reach and are the only one that can strike.
4b. Mid range: your opponent has a longer reach and is the only one that can strike.
5. Short range: Both are in range to swing freely.
6. Too close: both are so close that neither can swing effectively. (maybe wrap shots)
There are a couple more, but they are specific to polearms and other large weapons, more on that later. As we can see, 4b is a terrible place to be. Spot 5 can be pretty rough too, especially against a skilled opponent. Foot work must be used to get yourself out of bad spots and into a more favorable position. In the case of 4b, you have to move through the range to strike, or constantly move back.
I'll talk a little more about moving in and out of range in a future post, but this is largely the foundation I learned as a new guy. It is at least a good place to start if you haven't considered much about range before. If nothing else, Kenny would be happy to teach you through negative reinforcement using his longsword.