A shire is the smallest sized Amtgard chapter. Under most contracts, the required number of active players per a six month period is five. This is also the general term for a new group, no matter its size.
Shires may grant a limited number of awards, and no ladder award may be given above rank 2 or 3, depending on which kingdom they are in. Most shires are not allowed to give any titles of nobility, though some kingdoms allow shires to grant a sheriff that stepped down after a successful term the title of Lord.
In most places, candidates declare their intent to run for office. Qualifying candidates are then voted on by either the dues paid populous or all in attendance, depending on the rules of the park.
The next step
Once a shire grows to an average of 20 people per week in a six month period, they qualify to become a barony.