Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spear Throwing

I recently attended a Brown Bag lecture at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum on spear throwing. You'll find the pictures on my Flickr page.

The lecture was presented by Paul Campbell. Paul has a fascination with all things old, particularly those relating to the Native Americans in California. Through research and trial and error, he's rebuilt many artifacts California Native Americans used in their daily lives, including the spears and atlatls (spear throwers) demonstrated during the lecture. The best part? After the lecture those of us who were interested in learning to throw spears got hands-on experience!

My photos show how much fun everyone had. I was surprised with how quickly adults and children learned to throw. And throw far! The photos also show many different types of spears (also called darts), atlatls, quivers (one from straw, the other from a coyote pelt).

Here are some miscellaneous facts I gleaned from the lecture (any mistakes are my own):

- You can throw very far with an atlatl. Range depends on where you hold the atlatl.

- Think of your arm as a catapult when throwing.

- Spear tips are fire-hardened. Stones are used to make the point.

- Few ancient spears and atlatls are found because they were made of wood and wood disintegrates.

- Spears were made of wood or cane.

- A "male" atlatl has a spur protrusion. A "female" atlatl has a groove.

- A cane dart (spear) has more momentum than a .357 Magnum.

- A flexible atlatl creates a whip effect and can make a dart sail.

- This Alaskan spear (reddish brown with string around it) is designed so that the point stays in the target. The string keeps the point with the spear, and the spear floats. This makes it easy to retrieve weapon and prey.

- The most common quivers were made of coyote pelt.

Paul Campbell also has two books out:

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