A.K.A.- The Spear Thrower
During classes such as Way of the Hunter and Advanced Skills Training, we learn about, make and practice ancestral hunting tools such as the atlatl.
The atlatl and dart existed long before the bow and arrow, however they do have close similarities. The atlatl itself is simply, a stick with a handle on one end and a hook on the other. It acts to extend the length of ones arm to get a much more powerful throw. It can be different lengths, typically around two feet, made from different materials and range dramatically in design. The dart, or spear, is very much like an arrow except that it is multiple times larger. The hook on the atlatl nocks into a socket on the back of the dart, where a string would nock if the dart were an arrow. The dart is launched from the atlatl when the arm is drawn forward in a specific motion, almost like cracking a whip. With practice, this can be a very effective hunting weapon. It was used in every continent except Antarctica and allowed all of our distant and not-so-distant ancestors to successfully hunt animals to feed themselves and their families.