Author Topic: Anyone used an Atlatl?  (Read 10806 times)

FarmerJim

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Anyone used an Atlatl?
« on: February 19, 2015, 09:23:07 PM »
Today the weekly beer buddies conversation turned to primitive weapons and their modern use/effectiveness. My friend mentioned the Atlatl and admittedly none of us had ever used one. Anyone here experienced one firsthand? I've seen that Netflix series that featured it but was wondering if anyone has personal experience with construction or use.

Offline Gulo gulo

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2015, 09:49:10 PM »
Once at the alaska native heritage center and I totally missed the target. Chief advantage in a survival situation is that it would take much less materials and effort to make than a bow, while still giving one a mechanical advantage over just a spear. Bows still have more power and accuracy, when properly made.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2015, 10:03:41 PM »
I knocked together a makeshift one a few years ago.  Not particularly accurate, but then it wasn't well made nor was I skillful with it.  Used a dowel for the dart, some sort of small chisel for the head, and in about 15 minutes was blasting the point through 1/2" pine boards pretty easily.  It was dead easy to make and they are very effective.

Here's an old thread on the topic: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=38044.0

Offline archer

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2015, 10:55:41 PM »
I tried one at a primitive skills training class. very effective at throwing far distances, but with my lack of training i missed the barn.. barely managed to hit the earth. ;)

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2015, 06:57:43 AM »
.. barely managed to hit the earth. ;)
That would've been quite a trick if you'd managed it.  "Hello?  NASA?  And you're offering me how much?  Well, Richard Branson called earlier with a much more generous offer, so thanks anyway, g'bye."

Offline David in MN

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2015, 10:57:47 AM »
I had a buddy in college who grew up in Papua New Guinea who had one and was deadly accurate. I was not. Heaps of fun, though.

Offline Black November

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2015, 04:32:39 PM »
I am a fan of the atlatl, but I find that noking an arrow on sling shot tubing is way more accurate and practical.

I usually just keep a coiled up replacement slingshot band in a zip lock and put it in my hiking bag. I don't even use a the slingshot handle. I just grip the bands in my fist and shoot arrows off the top of my fist.

Modern technology.

Offline Knecht

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2015, 02:42:32 PM »
I tried it once while doing some experimentary archaeology, didn't really seem difficult to hit a stationary target at reasonable distances. We tried to hit each other while moving, used blunt arrows. Much harder of course, especialy since the blunt arrows did fly a lot slower.

Offline Storm

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2015, 03:57:24 PM »
We've messed around with them off an on. We've made those (with varying degrees of success) and plumbatae, very cool. I really like them and it's definitely something that takes some getting used to, but if you can use an amentum, it's basically the same principle. I'd think it would have been terrifying to see dozens of those darts flying at you followed by a  bunch of dudes to get into melee.

Offline Knecht

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2015, 08:15:13 PM »
I'm just about to introduce the plumbatae to my production line of historical gear. Collected a nice bunch of original photos.

Offline stash

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2015, 12:16:28 AM »
I just used an atlatl quite a bit for the first time at wintercount (www.backtracks.net)just this past week 2/15/15-2/21/15. they had an atlatl and archery tournament out there and soooo much more. It was such a good time!!!

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2015, 05:23:26 PM »
Atlatls can do two things well: they can increase the range of the dart, or they can increase the power / penetration at closer ranges. As atlatl darts were usually smaller and lighter than spears, I believe the prime use was to increase penetration. Here in the Ohio region, hourglass shaped weights were attached to the atlatl's shaft to increase the power behind the throw. A stone weight near the head would also make the atlatl an effective club for up close and personal work against critters of both the four-legged and two legged variety.

soup

Offline Storm

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2015, 07:49:50 PM »
I'm just about to introduce the plumbatae to my production line of historical gear. Collected a nice bunch of original photos.

That's awesome, they're great. Low-cost and damaging weapon for the late Roman/Byzantines. If you build some, throw some pics up, I'd like to take a look.


Atlatls can do two things well: they can increase the range of the dart, or they can increase the power / penetration at closer ranges. As atlatl darts were usually smaller and lighter than spears, I believe the prime use was to increase penetration. Here in the Ohio region, hourglass shaped weights were attached to the atlatl's shaft to increase the power behind the throw. A stone weight near the head would also make the atlatl an effective club for up close and personal work against critters of both the four-legged and two legged variety.

soup

It did both pretty well. One interesting thing that grew out of that kind of warfare was that while most of the darts could pierce the chainmail and quilting that the Spanish wore (but not the plate armor), the Aztecs (at least the richer/more experienced warriors) used a type of armor like a European gambeson that was effective against them to a pretty high degree. So effective, that many of the Spanish adopted its use as well.

Offline Lostjagged

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Re: Anyone used an Atlatl?
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2015, 05:40:28 PM »
I remember taking a early high school (late middle school) field trip where we learned how to use Atlatls. If I remember correctly it took about an hour to figure out how to get an accurate throw out of them, but once you did you could probably take deer sized game from 20 yards or less with ease.