George Cramer is a blacksmith by trade.
But it was his building of his website that led him to a winning appearance on the new Discovery Channel show “Master of Arms.”
“They actually contacted me through my website,” Cramer, who owns The Village Blacksmith in Gloucester Courthouse, said of officials from the show. “I spent countless hours building my web presence because you can be the best blacksmith in the world, but if nobody knows you’re there, you can’t really sell anything.”
Cramer’s winning episode aired Dec. 14, but he said the process began in February of last year. After officials contacted him, he went through several Skype interviews and psychological evaluations before he was chosen.
Filming, which took place in the Lehigh Valley, Allentown and Bethlehem areas of Pennsylvania, spanned an 11-day period in April.
“It came together pretty quickly,” he said.
However, he couldn’t tell anyone, except his wife, about the results until the show aired. He said about 200 people attended a viewing party at Your Pie, a pizza restaurant in Gloucester.
“It was pretty hard,” he said of keeping his success a secret. “Especially when people would come into my shop and say, ‘Have you seen that show?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, Yeah.’”
In each episode, three craftsmen compete as they design and build two weapons. Cramer’s first task was a steel bow. After arriving on set and being shown around the shop, Cramer thought he would have a day or so to plan that first build.
“Nope,” he said. “You find out what you’re doing and you build it right then and there.”
He and his competitors had six hours to design and build their first weapon. The only hiccup he had was when he burned the string while working on another part of the bow. He said he noticed it when he put his bow down on the table.
“I just nicked (the string) a little bit,” he said.
It didn’t matter as his bow performed well, and he was one of two people to advance to the final competition, where the task was building an arbalest, a steel crossbow used in Europe in the 12th century.
For that, he worked four 10-hour days.
Again, he was happy with his build, but his arrow didn’t hit the target. However, his opponent’s broke, and Cramer, 36, earned the fame and $10,000.
“It was an interesting experience, to say the least,” he said, but noted he did have one problem. “I had to wear the same shirt six days in a row for continuity of filming purposes.”
By the end of the competition, there was a big hole on the front of that shirt, which has been framed and is hanging in his shop.
That continuity, as well as what he said was great work by the editors and producers, even had him on the edge of his seat when watching it on TV.
“The way they shot it, it had me in suspense,” he said. “They were doing such a good job I didn’t know if I was going to win.”