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Sturgeon's House

The Atlatl Thread

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I made another atlatl over last weekend, this one made out of some sort of green-barked shrub int my yard, where as the first was made of ash (I believe). This one was about 1.5 times as long as the first, and curved in the same way. I found that it was ridiculously less accurate, most of the time falling short of the target with the same type of throw as normal. Then I thought that an atlatl the same length as the first would perform better, and in fact it was. I used a simply knapped quartzite blade and a grind-polished hand-axe to cut the longer atlatl at the point where it began to curve, leaving a straight atlatl the same length as the first one. This one outperformed the very first ash atlatl pretty well, and I'm not sure whether the wood type or the curve had more influence on the increase in accuracy. I have a feeling it's the curve, but I'd like to hear the opinions of people who know more about the material qualities of varying types of wood. Could a different wood type have a substantial influence on the performance of an atlatl?

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30 minutes ago, Belesarius said:

Either of the above.


Maybe use steam to straighten your atlatl shafts? And make sure to use a hard wood that doesn't flex.


So I think we should specify here.


I'm assuming that 'atlatl' is referring to the spear thrower, in which case flex is not a good thing. You might also want to look into weights.


If its referring to the darts then you need to spine them like an arrow. You also need to make sure that the weight of each dart varies by very little - 5% or less.

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10 hours ago, Mogensthegreat said:


As in just having a curve in the wood or bending during use?


As in the spear-throwing lever is flexible and is bending while you chuck darts with it.


Most atlatls from the archaeological record are wood, but a fair number are bone or ivory, and those are absolutely inflexible.  This shows to me that you want the thrower to be as rigid as possible, although there is substantial disagreement about whether the darts should flex.

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