Saturday, December 15, 2012

Atlatl? How do you even say that?

Ok so the other day I made a few points to haft to atlatl darts.  An atlatl (at-lat-l) is a tool still used in parts of the Amazon basin for both hunting and fishing.  The technology precedes the bow and arrow considerably and was a huge technological leap forward from regular thrusting spears.

The apparatus is wonderfully quiet, in fact, all you can hear is the feather fletching as it bow string pop, no cartridges...pretty simple and very efficient.  In just going for distance the darts sailed a good 75 yards.  When it came to accuracy I was able to hit a small hay bale at about 25 yards consistently, granted I've only had less than a year playing with these.  The cool thing about these is that you don't line up sights as you do with a rifle, and to a certain degree a bow.  This get up is more determined by your body movement and follow-through.

I wish I had more photos, I got too excited and forgot to take a bunch.

The shaft is made of cane, you want cane as it gives you a lot of flex.  As you throw the dart it flexes and then springs forward, this gives you a little extra zing.

The dart point is made from obsidian collected from Brown's Bench, Idaho by one of my committee members, Ted Goebel (thanks Ted).

As far as the point itself, I've become a fan of the San Pedro cluster of points.  A little about them- Late Archaic, about 3500 years ago at the earliest and was still made until about A.D. 300 (1,700 years ago).

 Why do I like these so much?  Well they're a great example of the cost:benefit ratio that seems to play a pretty major role in how tool kits look.  Not too hard to make, solid hafting element, easily resharpened, variable sizes still work's got it all!  Think of this in comparison to another, more costly, less reusable point, Snaketown points for example.  Fun to make, fun to shoot, not very practical for daily stuff.

Ok, enough, the points flew really well, maximum distance of 75 yards or so, with a little practice you could get accurate to 50 yards with good penetration.  Give the tek a try! Remember not to make your dart point too heavy or it'll nose dive.  If the shaft is too heavy it'll do a back flip in the air :(  The right combo should feel light and springy.  Here's some links!!!!

How to make an atlatl

How to make darts

HAhaha, Is this Kip from Napoleaon Dynamite throwing darts?

Australian version called a Woomera


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