ANN ARBOR ATLATL LEAGUE
JOIN US EVERY THIRD TUESDAY OF THE MONTH
beat the heat and bugs
7 to 9pm
Keith McClary enjoys his first (X).
Keith McClary suggests we form teams. Sounds good to me, let's do it. Also
this month we will have each flight (team) casting at one target per round
instead of spreading out like last month. Depending on the turnout, this
change could mean all teams throw simultaneously. This should ease
scorekeeping and increase the critical CPH. (Casts per hour.)
Thanks for being at Wilderness Archery and exposing me to this superfun activity. It was nice to meet new people and try my hand at the atlatl. By the way, I owe you one for the one I broke--sorry--but they seem fairly easy to make. I have some deer hyde and sinue to create a decent one. I have a feeling that my arm will be sore in the morning but it was worth it. When I got home I told everyone about this high-powered oversized, deadly darts we call the atlatl and how much fun it was to try. My brother Len is intrigued and I told him to go to your website. I'll make sure to bring my brother along the next time you come to Pete's place. Thanks again, Robert Emerick.
We had the first monthly Michigan Atlatl Association (MAA) League last night at Wilderness Archery (an indoor archery range) in Ann Arbor, MI. My son Steven and I both attended and threw. We had a GREAT time! The league throws both open and ISAC (rating) rounds. There were over a dozen people there for this first league night, and quite a few visitors checking out this "unusual sport". Wilderness Archery was a great host, and is anxious to help foster more atlatl throwing at their location. Throwing indoors was definitely a unique experience. When throwing the far targets (around 30 meters or so), style made a lot of difference. The place has a pretty high industrial warehouse ceiling, but at those distances the ceiling still limits the use of slow, arcing "dive-bomb" throws. Several of us (including myself), caught the flat roof's rafter rod matrix at least once. I had to increase my throwing force/velocity a bit to create a flatter curve, but that's OK. In the long run it'll be good for accuracy anyway to develop that style, and in the wild it would make for faster and better prey strike penetration.
Some of the more experienced people there (like Jim Gilligan, Pres of MAA <email@example.com>) were zinging their 6 foot atlatl darts at the targets with flat throws in what SEEMED like the velocity of standard 14-17 gram mini game darts thrown at your local bar! (Wow...)
The other interesting thing to note was the range used thick foam blocks for the target backings. Atlatl darts penetrateWELL into foam. This wasn't a problem for most dart designs, but those that used modern cap tips with brads inserted sideways to hold the cap on tended to hang into the blocks. Like a barbed hunting tip, they often either seized up and/or tried to tear the blocks slightly upon removal. Occasionally I was afraid of breaking a dart upon removal, but luckily the shafts were pretty sturdy. It did occasionally require a third hand to get a dart out safely.
Interestingly enough, the darts that used natural or synthetic sinew hafting didn't have as much of a removal problem. I theorize that those whose lashings penetrated the blocks didn't tear up the lashings because the sinew's waxiness lubricated the insertion hole slightly, and the slight compressibility of the hafting lashings also assisted in removal. Darts with fore shaft designs also seemed to be able to be removed much easier, because the primary lashings never entered the block at all.
Lessons learned when using atlatl darts with foam block targets:
- Make sure you have a VERY smooth tip design to prevent block hang-up and tearing;
- Avoid side brad tip hafting (they tear the blocks)
- Fore shaft and sinew hafting are both very good.
There were a lot of interesting designs for both the atlatl darts and throwing sticks. No two throwers were even CLOSE to being alike, and both primitive and modern darts were present. One thrower was simply a 1" dowel of raw bamboo, with a simple slice out of one side, leaving a triangular point at the dart end of the channel to engage he dart. One person had flat steel "hunting tips" on their darts, that inserted and removed very well.
One unique atlatl thrower design to note was the one used by Eve Dawes from southern Ohio, who came up for the league night.
Her atlatl had a "V" prop wedge at the handle end, lined with leather that held the dart instead of depending on the normal index finger and thumb grip. She also had a number of carved dowel "teardrops" strategically located and angled along the sides instead of leather finger loops. This allowed for both the dart to be self supporting on the atlatl, and a better multifingered grip of the handle. That in turn made her shots strong, VERY repeatable, and well scoring.
One has to be careful of the initial holding angle as only gravity holds the dart in the launcher, but that leather V lining obviously gave her enough friction to keep the dart from coming out. I never saw her lose a dart before the throw, or a misthrow during the launch. Eve is fairly petite, but her darts were just as fast as (and more effective than) most darts thrown by some 6 foot linebacker built guys that were there. Impressive.
For future reference, the MAA Atlatl league meets every third Tuesday at Wilderness Archery in Ann Arbor, MI at 7 PM.
I hope to see more of you there next month!
- Keith Mc.
Asst. Scoutmaster, Great Sauk Trail Troop 111, AA MI
"All right... Who on our atlatl league team wants to be Goalie??"
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