Discussion in 'Marksmanship Arts' started by arnisador, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    There was a story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (subscription required to access it online) entitled Throwing Sticks of the Stone Age about the atlatl. This is a wooden device used for hurling a spear (hence also known as a spearthrower) or dart in a manner somewhat reminscent of jai alai. ("It's like throwing a stick with a stick," the article quotes a practitioner as saying.) The word itself is Aztec in origin, and it was used against the Spanish conquistadors, but is a much older weapon than that.

    Pennsylvania is considering legalizing it as a hunting weapon. On 24 January of this year the state's gaming commission is to decide whether to allow it to be used to hunt animals;a final vote would be taken in April. They are currently leaning against legalizing it, according to a non-binding recommendation from the commission's staff. The concern is that the average hunter would be unlikely to get a clean kill as opposed to merely wounding the animal. Atlatl hunting is legal in Alabama.

    Apparently, ''The Daily Show with Jon Stewart'' did a segment on this story recently. Mr. Stewart visited Pennsylvania to see the sport in practice and speak with enthusiasts.

    There is a World Atlatl Association that regulates the sport aspect of the atlatl. This year's world championship competition is to be held in September in Collinsville, IL, at a Native American historical site. The WSJ story mentions at least one professional atlatl maker: Bob Perkins of Manhattan, Montana.

    Some links (the last one has a good picture):
    Game commission staff advises against ancient atlatl

    Spare deer from spears, state panel urges

    Enthusiast for ancient weapon disappointed by Game Commission staff recommendation
  2. lonecoyote

    lonecoyote New Member

    I'm a little familiar with the atlatl from my time at Eastern New Mexico University, just a few miles from the "Clovis Man" site. There is some serious anthropology going on there, because of Clovis Man, how he hunted and what he hunted with (the atlatl) are part of this. It's been a while since I've taken an anthro class, but there's a great little museum down there devoted to the whole scene, and you can visit the blackwater draw site. Anyway, about the atlatl, clovis man used it to hunt with, and even took down mammoth, yes, mammoth, with it. He used a Clovis point, which is an ingenious, and wicked looking tip for the spear, made of volcanic glass, which can actually be sharper than surgical steel. The anthropology graduate department used to have an atlatl throwing contest, never seen it, but from what I've heard, the atlatl is tough to use well, just takes a lot of time and effort and practice. I've no doubt clean kills would be tough, but I think it just as likely that it won't be so much of a problem, as your average hunter wouldn't take the time to learn to use a weapon requiring this much effort, in other words, if you'd even think about using it to hunt with, then you're serious, because you'd have to have spent a lot of time with it. I think the more effort involved in hunting the better. Not sure if something you can do from hundreds of yards away while half bombed should be called a sport, and hunting with an atlatl would definitely not be like that.
  3. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Where's the museum? We want to do more local sight-seeing, and this sounds interesting!
  4. lonecoyote

    lonecoyote New Member

    It's in Portales, New Mexico, it's quite a ways from the Duke City, and it's different scenery wise, it's where the mountains give way to the plains, and then further south, the semi desert. If you're coming to Eastern New Mexico this way, also might as well head on south as you go, down to Roswell, the UFO museum sounds like a tourist trap but its not, its pretty cool, very sincere guides and great souvenirs. the Billy the kid museums ( in Fort Sumner) are tourist traps you can check out the grave for free. Then head on down to Carlsbad Caverns, one of the natural wonders of the world, you'll never forget it.
  5. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    We do intend to do the caverns, so who knows!
  6. grimfang

    grimfang Junior Member

    Well.. i had a long post typed up.. but the system chose to log me out when i hit the reply key, so now we get the short version..sorry..

    A large part of my anthropology field work in college involved creating and using traditional hunting weapons. The atlatl was a pain in the ass to use. If I were forced to depend on that for hunting, I would become a vegetarian. I simply had no real accuracy with it, overshooting or undershooting my target by a large margin.
    I had the chance to build and work with the two most common vatieties of atlatl. The most common type is the ‘forked stick’ variety, which is simply a stick of about 30 inches with a small fork sticking out, and the darts (which are really arrows, not tiny little darts) are flung from the tip of the fork on top. Its pretty easy to find a stick to make a suitable atlatl. Its much harder to learn to use it.
    The second variety is the ‘slotted’ atlatl, which has a longer forked side than the other type. The fork is used as the handle with this type, and the dart rests in a groove or slot carved along the length of the long portion (similar to how a crossbow bolt rests in the groove of the crossbow shaft.) I found this style to be much more accurate, but it lost a bit of distance and took a lot more effort to make.
    I used darts that were around 30 inches long. The darts used by my professor were much longer and resembled javelins (with no fletching on them at all.) Those were pretty impressive to see thrown.
    The primary advantage to using an atlatl is the fact that it can generate the force of a spear, without the complications presented by the length of the spear. Atlatl darts are shorter and thus more portable, a person can carry a larger number of them, and their length makes it much easier to find appropriate materials to make them. And its really easy to find an appropriate piece of wood to use as a basic ‘forked’ atlatl.
    The force generated from an atlatl is scary. I prefer it much more as a mid-range hunting tool than a long-range option. At a range of 25-30 yards, a good sized dart hurled from an atlatl could really do a number on a bear or a large cat. I’m sure someone who grew up hunting with them would have a much greater effective range.
    The real drawback to an atlatl as a hunting tool is Trees. In a densely populated forest, it would be difficult to find a line-of-sight long enough to make it a really effective tool. In an open field, it would be much better. I would assume that hunters threw rocks and sticks to drive the prey into open areas, where hunters armed with atlatls could then attack.

    Like I said.. short version.. to frustrated to retype to full thing over again right now…
  7. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Ah, I was hoping you'd weigh in! Sorry to hear about the lost long post.

    Is there a technical distinction between a dart, javelin, and spear (and arrow/bolt)? I hear the atlatl described as a spear-thrower loosely, but dart-thrower seems to be more precise. Does the spear generate more force simply because of its weight?

    Edit: Abusing my power to edit my own posts long after the time-out for editing has occurred...I see the pronunciation given as (roughly) at-lat-uhl at most sites, sounding similar to Atlanta, with 3 syllables, but as "battle-battle" without the b's in the WSJ article, giving 4 syllables. Do you know which is right?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2006
  8. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    A (Tentative) Victory for the Atlatlists!

    Final approval would come in April. Another story on this:
  9. grimfang

    grimfang Junior Member

    Yeah, the differences between them are all technical details. At a certain point it just becomes splitting hairs, particularly when distinguishing between a dart and an arrow.
    Darts are typically the smaller of the bunch, anywhere from 18-30 inches. But technically you can have a ‘dart’ that is 3 feet long or longer. Darts are typically fletched… meaning they have feathers on the end, like an arrow. Darts are not delivered directly from the hand, but are flung from a delivery device such as an atlatl or blowgun. Darts can be found with or without an arrowhead attached, depending on where it comes from.
    Arrows are the same as darts. The only difference is the delivery system. By definition, an arrow is delivered via a stringed weapon, usually a bow. Because of the method of delivery arrows can usually be identified by a notch at the butt end, where the string rests against them.
    A javelin is usually the longest of the group. Javelins used for sports such as the Olympics can be up to 8 feet long. For hunting purposes, 4-6 feet is more practical and common. It is intended for the long-range throw. A javelin traditionally has no fletching, and is thrown from the hand. The size and weight of a javelin make them deadly when they land. Historically they have been used as a devastating ‘first strike’ weapon in combat by Greek and Roman armies, who are believed to have thrown 2 or 3 volleys of javelins before closing in for melee. Footsoldiers probably used javelins rather than bows simply because its easier to create and maintain a javelin, while bows were reserved for soldiers who were trained specifically in their use. (Odd historical footnote: While bows were difficult to produce and maintain, arrows were relatively easy to mass produce… Egyptians abandoned the javelin in favor of the bow at a very early point in history, while the rest of the world took much longer to make the change.)
    A spear is just a stick with a sharp point attached to it. Length depends on its intended use. A spear for throwing will usually be longer, anywhere from 6-8 feet. The rock (or iron, in later cases) attached to a spear can be sharpened much more than the point of a javelin, and can often be harder than the wood its attached to. The stone tip also adds a bit more weight to the end of the spear, increasing its force on impact. The length and weight of the spear are the primary factors in determining the increased force they provide. Not all spears were intended to be used as projectiles. The increased reach provided by a spear makes it effective for keeping an enemy/large prey out of reach in combat, and makes usefull fishing tool.

    As far as the linguistics question... I would assume that pronunciation would vary depending on where the speaker comes from, but your guess is as good as mine..
  10. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    I watched an episode of Conquest tonight, on "Stone-Age Weapons". It included a brief discussion and demonstration of the atlatl (which they pronounced as "battle-battle" without the bs). They claimed it increased the power as much as 5x, but admitted it took some time to perfect it!
  11. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Does anyone know if this happened?
  12. Carol

    Carol <font color = blue><b>Technical Administrator</b><

    The minutes of the meeting are painful to read.

    They voted to stall.

    The vote was to refer the matter back to the law enforcement comiittee.
  13. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Sheesh. Politics!
  14. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Early warfare
    Girls on top

  15. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Catching Up on Javelins

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times,Serif]The Latest in the High-Tech, but Most Decidedly Not High-Profile, Sport[/FONT]

  16. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    The "Maya Armageddon" episode of Warriors on the History Channel has lots of good atlatl footage! It also has some stickwork with what reminds me of an Hawaiian- style oar with sharp barbs on the blades, and other weapons.

    (I really enjoy this show, by the way.)
  17. pguinto

    pguinto New Member

    The same reasons to prevent legalization could apply to bowhunting, or even gunhunting as well. All good hunters practice as often as possible. My brother is an avid bowhunter and he practices shooting bow/rifles all the time. Hunters have to buy the hunting tags, and pay for equipment and other expenses; and if they dont practice, they they wont down their prey, and their money/time is wasted.

    It's not fair that the skills of the n00b are what may prevent the skilled from being able to engage in probably an excellent and highly rewarding activity.
  18. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Atlatl competitions.

    Our Towns: A College Team Takes Aim


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