Man has been using multifarious types of weapons for survival in sports, hunting, or even warfare to date. To wield these weapons effectively requires immense concentration and explicit instructions. Atlatls not only present much ancient history when these were used by Aztecs but in the modern era, they are equally helpful also. There is certain equipment that is needed in preparing atlatls specifically a sturdy branch, a sharp knife, sandpaper, bird feathers.
The atlatl or throwing stick was a weapon employed by Homo sapiens 30,000 years ago, employed by different cultures starting from the traditional Aztecs and native Australians to the Greeks and Romans.
While there are certainly better weapons you’ll craft or simply buy, knowing the way to build and use an atlatl may be a skill worth learning, especially during a survival situation where you would like some skills. Long-range weapon for hunting or defense.
If you would like an honest projectile weapon but do not have the materials to craft a bow, the atlatl may be a good alternative. In fact, atlatls are easy to make and maybe surprisingly effective and deadly despite their speed and ease of construction.
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Making the Atlatl
To construct an atlatl, you’ll need a sharp knife or similar cutting tool. In this article, we list a couple of ways you can go about this.
Method 1: In the Wild
For this method, it is assumed that you are in nature and that you will need to obtain materials from your environment.
These are the materials and equipment you will need:
- A sturdy branch, about 16 inches long and 2 inches in diameter
- A sharp knife
- Sandpaper (optional)
- Stick 3 feet long, ¾ inches in diameter for the “dart”
- Bird feathers
- 1 foot of small rope (fir roots, rope, fishing line, or inner strands of paracord)
To create an atlatl and a dart, do the following:
- Take the 16-inch branch and cut off all the twigs.
- Shave the bark and thin the sides of the stick.
- On the part of the stick with a natural curve, make it the top part where the “bowl” or “cradle” of the dart will be.
- Cut out the area that will serve as the base for the dart; make a “stop cut”, a clear slit where the back end of a dart will be placed.
- Do some touch-ups on the atlatl with sandpaper if desired.
- Get a long, thin stick to make a dart. You can make multiple darts, just make sure you have enough materials.
- Shave the bark with your knife, being careful not to break or damage any part of the tree. You can remove all of the bark or just the bark from each end of the stick if it is straight enough.
- f the stick is not straight enough, cut all the bark and heat it over the fire. Slowly straighten the twisted parts of the dart by bending them with your hands while the stick is still hot.
- Trim one end to a sharp point. Heat the freshly carved tip over a fire to temper it and make it less brittle if desired.
- Finally, the dart should have a tail that allows it to fly farther and straighter. Get some bird feathers and cut them into a wedge shape; Tie them at the other end with strings.
Method 2: Urban Scavenging
This alternative method is used when you are in an urban setting and you have the materials at home, or you can still get the materials from a store.
This is what you will need:
- 1 piece of PVC pipe, ½ inch diameter, 2 feet long
- or craft knife or a survival knife
- or toothpick (F-shaped)
- Small internal strands of rope or paracord (optional)
- Superglue (optional)
- Store-bought arrows
To make an atlatl from these common household items, follow these steps:
- Take the PVC pipe and, using a craft or survival knife, cut a small notch (for the part you will be making in the next step) 2 inches from one end.
- Take an F-shaped toothpick and cut the “arm” so that it has the “C” part that contains the floss.
- Carefully insert the “C” of the toothpick into the notch.
- Optionally, you can replace the cable if it wears out with the internal thread of a paracord; Just cut a short piece to replace the floss and secure it with glue.
- Use the commercially available arrows or create your own by following steps 6 to 10 of Method 1.
Using the Atlatl
Once you’ve got your atlatl and ammo, it is time to place them to the test and hone your throwing skills. Throwing a dart with an atlatl is simple and touch like employing a bow and arrow, but having the power to hit a target from a couple of feet away takes practice.
To deal with the atlatl, follow these steps:
- Place the dart on the bottom of the atlatl.
- Together with your dominant hand, grasp the atlatl opposite the “throwing side”, while squeezing the dart together with your thumb and forefinger.
- Bring the dart to eye level, looking directly at your target.
- Throw the dart at your target with a motion almost like that of a baseball and flicking your wrist just before releasing your thumb and forefinger.
The instructions to follow for the atlatls are here:
- When you need a projectile weapon quickly
- The materials or tools to make a bow are not available, and
- If hunting or protecting yourself with a spear is too difficult.
If you have the time and the material, you can certainly make a more complex atlatl by incorporating a spur and notching your darts.
Depending on the situation, you can choose to create quick and easy atlatls or more elaborate designs.