Don’t Drop Yer Elbows, Folks

Recently I received a couple of emails from people just starting out with the atlatl and they complained of hitting the dirt in front of the target, or, low shots.

1. The most common source of hitting the dirt in front of the target is the result of lowering your elbow during the throwing motion. Your throwing elbow should start off shoulder high and remain shoulder high throughout the entire throwing motion. When you let your drop down during the throwing motion, your dart drops down with it.

2. If you lever the atlatl upward too soon during the throwing motion you raise the rear end of the dart above the point end of the dart, thus the dart is pointed down hill when you throw and that is exactly where the dart will go, down hill, hitting the dirt in front of the target.
At the start of the throwing motion, the atlatl and dart must be pulled forward horizontally until the atlatl handle is about a foot in front of your face before you start to lever the atlatl upward.

3. Bending over at the waist during the throwing motion will like wise lower your dart point. You might as well drop to your knees during the throwing motion because the effect will be the same,,,, loss of altitude, dart hits dirt in front of the target. Stand up straight and tall, don’t bend over during the throw.

So,
Don’t drop your elbow.
Pull, pull, pull the atlatl past your face before you lever.
Don’t bend over.

Ray Strischek
Athens Ohio

OAA April 2014 Newsletter

Download this PDF copy of the April_2014_OAA_Newsletter.

PDF contains these 2014 Ohio Atlatl Association Events 

(Events to be added when scheduled.)

Please check the WAA Events Calendar for Current Informationwww.atlatl.bravesites.com

Date Location Event Description
April 26 Leo Petroglyph

Ray, OH 45672

(US Rt. 35 to County Rd. 28, left in Leo on Township Rd. 224)

 

Rendezvous at the Rock – Exhibits and entertainment. OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. 9:00 – 5:00.

Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351.

 

June 7 Athens Public Library

Home Street

Athens, Ohio 45701

OAA will host atlatl accuracy contests – Ohio locals, ISAC, IASAC, World Atlatl Day team contests. 10:00 am – 5:00pm. Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351

 

June 13-15 Fort Firelands RV Park

5850 E. Harbor Rd.

Marblehead, OH 43440

OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals, Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.  Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351

 

June 28 Athens Public Library

Home Street

Athens, Ohio 45701

Atlatl Educational Day Camp. OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. 9:00 – 5:00.

Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351.

 

July 11-13 Flint Ridge State Park

Brownsville, OH

OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351.

 

August 8 Steve Barnett’s House near Albany, Ohio

 

 

 

That Dam ISAC – IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals.

5:00 pm – dark (or thereabouts).  Contact Ray Strischek (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351 or  Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553 more information.

 

August 9-10 Albany Riding Club

Albany, OH 45710

OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon.

Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553.

 

 

Aug 29 – 31 Flint Ridge State Park

Brownsville, OH

Flint Ridge Lithic Society Knap-In. – OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Lots of booths, flintknapping, crafts, etc. Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351 or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553.

 

Sept. 12 – 14 Lake Snowden

Rt. 32

Albany, OH

Sixteenth Annual Ohio PawPaw Festival – OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Lots of booths, crafts, pawpaw food and information. Friday evening (4:00) for atlatl, through Sunday afternoon. Admission fee per car.Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553.

 

Oct.  3 – 5 Indian Mounds Festival

Connett Rd.

The Plains, OH

Indian Mounds Festival, across the street from The Plains Elementary School.  OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. Contact Ray Strischek (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351, or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553 for more information.

 

For more information, contact Ray Strischek, ohioatlatl@hotmail.com  or Steve Barnett barz@juno.com

 

The Atlatl Weight as I Know It

I use atlatl weights or rather I use an atlatl weight on my atlatl.  I love it. I would never use an atlatl in a competition without one.

One day long ago, my father Martin Strischek showed up at my house with a bunch of stones he had gathered from a walk along Mill Creek near where he lived at the time.  He had taken the time and burned through a lot of drill bits to drill holes through these stones and insisted that I try them out.  So I did, starting with the light weights, throwing 20 or so darts, switching to a heavier weight, throwing 20 or so darts, and so on, all the way through a half dozen or so.

The effect was immediate, though it was not what I would have suspected having read up on all the theories at the time which were:

  1. The weight would increase the force of throw, thus gaining distance and/or penetration.
  2. The weight would act as a silencer.
  3. The weight would balance the dart on the atlatl so a thrower could stand at the ready for a longer period of time and not get tired.
  4. The weight was just a fetish, a good luck charm.

I found none of these things to be true.  Well ok, the bit about it being a good luck charm is impossible to prove one way or another.

What I found was that the weight aided accuracy because the weight provided centrifugal stability during the throwing motion.

Example:   take a piece of string 3 feet long, hold on to one end and whirl it around vertically.  The string just goes all over the place.  Now tie a weight to one end and whirl it around vertically, the string stretches out in a straight line and you can actually control the direction of the whirl.  That’s centrifugal stability.

The throwing motion using an atlatl is inherently jerky.  You are using your wrist joint, elbow joint, shoulder joint and all the muscles in between in a whacky momentum building dance to first pull forward and while pulling forward, levering upward, and then at the very end, briskly flicking the wrist downward to hopefully send a 6 foot long flexing dart in a straight lined, arcing flight to a small circle down range.

Now during the throwing motion, before the dart separates from the atlatl, the dart is already flexing and that flexing tends to have its way with the spur end of the atlatl which is about 18 or so inches away from where the hand is holding and trying to control the atlatl.  That flexing causes the spur end of the atlatl to wobble and not maintain a straight line travel throughout the entirety of the throwing motion. Exactly where off line the wobble has the spur when the dart separates from the atlatl determines how far off the intended direction the dart will venture.

The atlatl weight’s centrifugal stability counters the wobble caused by the flexing dart. And assuming you can get your wrist joint, elbow joint, shoulder joint and all the muscles in between to get with the whacky momentum building dance to first full forward and while pulling forward, levering upward, and then at the very end, briskly flicking the wrist downward to hopefully, and actually send the dart towards that small circle in the target down range in the right direction to begin with, you will stand a much better chance of actually hitting it.

Some of my friends use more than one atlatl weight.  Some have atlatl weights evenly distributed all along the atlatl shaft.  Most people get by pretty well with just one.  Some locate it right behind the handle, others mid way along the atlatl shaft. Others still, myself included, park the weight close to the spur.

I have no opinion on the number or placement of the atlatl weight on the atlatl shaft.  I will say that how much weight you use is a health issue you need to take very seriously. My own experiments have proved to me that too much weight will give one “atlatl elbow.”

I use a stone that is generally disc shape, round, and has had its edges rounded off by wave action so that it looks to be about 1 ½ inches long, by 1 ½ inches wide at its widest point, and about ¾ of an inch thick at the thickest point.  I don’t know how much the stones weigh because I never bothered to weigh one, but I reckon them to weigh about 2/3 that of my darts.

I have found these fairly flat round symmetrical stones in fast moving streams, along the beaches of Lake Erie, in piles at stone quarries everywhere, and used in landscaping around hotels and rest stop buildings.  So, they are not all that rare or hard to find.

I use waxed, fake sinew to lash my stones to the atlatl.  I put a small piece of leather between the atlatl shaft and the atlatl weight to be, wrap sinew around stone and atlatl shaft 20 or so times and then leave about two feet of sinew dangling from each side.  I then use a series of half hitches to cinch up the wrapped strands between the atlatl and the top of the weight on both sides.  This binds the wraps very tightly and I have never had a weight slip or slide.  I will use a double half hitch to end up with, and leave about an inch of sinew dangling on each side.

Because the sinew is fake and made from oil based products, I can use a lighter to start the dangling end burning and as it burns toward the last double half hitch I will blow out the flame which leaves a bubble that will not unwind.

In summary, the purpose of the atlatl weight is to provide centrifugal stability during the throwing motion and is thus an important aid to improving accuracy.  Too much weight will kill your elbow. All other theories about the function of the atlatl weight are bogus because they are not mine.  (Although, good luck charm, yeah maybe that one’s ok.)

Ray Strischek
Athens Ohio

Workshop Update 2014

Atlatl Ray’s been busy in the workshop.

[UPDATE: $80 Master Atlatls are done!]

$80 Master Atlatls

Contact me via my form if you’d like to buy one.

$80 Master Atlatls, Flexible and Weighted with dart rests, single finger hole style. Hardwood handles, hardwood flexible shafts, hardwood dart rests, oak spurs.

From bottom to top: Walnut handle with Osage flexible shaft. Next is Cherry Handle and Rose Wood flexible shaft. Middle is Elm handle with Rosewood Flexible Shaft. The top two are Walnut with Brazilian Cherry flexible shafts.

I am currently working on three of Walnut handle with Rosewood Flexible Shafts. I like Walnut and Cherry best. I like Rose Wood flexible shafts best. I have been using the same Walnut and Rose Wood atlatl for 10 years. Very dependable, very durable.

The weights are river smoothed cobbles and are lashed on (no glue) in such a way as to not slip. The rocks sit on a piece of leather and I wrap several winds of fake sinew around the stone and atlatl, leaving two feet of sinew dangling on both sides. I then use a repeated half hitch from stone to wood on both sides. This bunches the wrappings together making them even tighter than I can do by pulling with my hand. The weight I have on the atlatl I have been using for 10 years has never slipped. In fact, the bindings get tightened so much that on two occasions in the last 16 years the tightness gained from this method put so much pressure on the stone that it split the flexible shaft.

$40 Weighted, Flexible Atlatls — See pics below. A cross between beginner atlatls and master atlatls, a way to give someone an affordable opportunity to experience the flexible weighted atlatl.

$20 Beginner Atlatls — See pics below. A 1 inch diameter poplar shaft, oak dart rest and oak cross bar set at 5 1/2 inches from the front.  The spur is oak.  Atlatl is 22 inches long.

$20 Atlatl Darts —  See pics below. Approximately 7 feet long, with bamboo or river cane shafts, 3 feather tied on, not glued, water proof reinforced front and rear ends to  avoid splitting, and copper points also using water proof glue. All my darts have a 12 inch poplar foreshaft that holds the point and is permanently glued into the dart shaft. Upon request, I can make dart foreshafts that will hold a regular arrow insert so that a customer can buy hunting points from an archery store for use in hunting.

Beginner Atlatls
Beginner Atlatls
Fletching Style for Atlatl Darts
Fletching Style for Atlatl Darts
Beginner Atlatls
Beginner Atlatls
Atlatl Darts
Atlatl Darts

Until such time as such time as my son drags my 66 year old carcass kicking and screaming into the 21st Century all sales must be via check or money order.  Someday I will figure out pay pal but for now, while we still have one, lets use the US Post Office.

Please contact me via my form to let me know what you’re looking for…

2013 Ohio Atlatl Association Events Schedule

April 27 Leo Petroglyph
Ray, OH 45672
(US Rt. 35 to County Rd. 28, left in Leo on Township Rd. 224)
Rendezvous at the Rock – Exhibits and entertainment. OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. 9:00 – 5:00.
Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351.

June 1 Athens Public Library
Home Street
Athens, Ohio 45701 OAA will host atlatl accuracy contests – Ohio locals, ISAC, IASAC, World Atlatl Day team contests. 10:00 am – 5:00pm. Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351

June 7-9 Fort Firelands RV Park
5850 E. Harbor Rd.
Marblehead, OH 43440 OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals, Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351

June 22 Athens Public Library
Home Street
Athens, Ohio 45701 Atlatl Educational Day Camp. OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. 9:00 – 5:00.
Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351.

July 13-14 Flint Ridge State Park
Brownsville, OH OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.
Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351.

August 9 Steve Barnett’s House near Albany, Ohio

That Dam ISAC – IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals.
5:00 pm – dark (or thereabouts). Contact Ray Strischek (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351 or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553 more information.

August 10-11 Albany Riding Club
Albany, OH 45710 OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon.
Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553.

Aug 30-Sep 1 Flint Ridge State Park
Brownsville, OH Flint Ridge Lithic Society Knap-In. – OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Lots of booths, flintknapping, crafts, etc. Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351 or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553.

Sept. 13-15 Lake Snowden
Rt. 32
Albany, OH Fifteenth Annual Ohio PawPaw Festival – OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Lots of booths, crafts, pawpaw food and information. Friday evening (4:00) for atlatl, through Sunday afternoon. Admission fee per car.Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553.

October 4, 5 and 6 – Mound Festival
Connett Road, cross from the high school
The Plains, Ohio
Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351

October 25-26 Zaleski State Forest, Lake Hope State Park, Zaleski, Ohio Ohio ROAR Days

OAA will provide instruction and conduct atlatl accuracy contests. IASAC, ISAC, and Ohio locals. Lots of booths, crafts, pawpaw food and information. Friday evening (4:00) for atlatl, all day Saturday. Camping available.

Contact Ray Strischek for more information, (ohioatlatl@hotmail.com) 740-331-4351or Steve Barnett (barnz@juno.com) 740-698-6553.

2013 Ohio Atlatl Association Events
Events to be added when scheduled.
Please check the WAA Events Calendar for Current Information. www.atlatl.bravesites.com

 

REVIEW: “Prehistoric Indians of the Southeast: Archaeology of Alabama and the Middle South”, by John A. Walthall

A good book with lots of detail and great presentation. Books like these are not meant to be page turners, but this one is more readable than most.

Ray Strischek here:  In an early article I opined that the difference between Paleo and Archaic Americans is visible in flint point designs. Archaic points have defined stems while the hafting area of Paleo points are a continuation of the overall form. Minor modifications — dulled edges where hafting would take place protect sinew from abrasion and hold point to spear or foreshaft.  I found my opinion confirmed in the above mentioned book.

“Recent investigations of stratified rock shelters and open-air sites in eastern North America have indicated that the Archaic stage began  nearly 10,000 years ago and ended 7,000 years later. This long cultural sequence has been traditionally divided into three sequential periods. The first of these temporal segments, the early Archaic period is characterized by notched and stemmed projectile points.”

Of course, this book is not limited to any particular cultural epoch but rather spans Paleo to European contact the southeastern area of the United States.  Alabama is the center of focus, which includes mound builders and urn burial cultures.  The urn burial culture caught my attention.  Children were put in urns whole, while adult bodies were stripped of flesh. Only the bones were placed in the urns.  These urns were not specifically made for this purpose but rather were ordinary cooking pots pulled out of domestic use for the burial purpose.  A bowl shaped lid was fashioned after the fact to seal the urn.  The urn was then buried just deep enough to be covered over with the dirt taken from the hole.  This custom started in the Woodland stage (Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, Proto-historic, European Contact) and died out about the time of European Contact.

This book also provides recipes for processing acorn and hickory/walnuts.  Acorns: Shell the nuts, put the meat in a pot, leach out the tannic acid by boiling, changing the water each time the water becomes light brown.  The process takes about an hour.  (The book does not say how many times to change the boiling water.)

Hickory and Walnuts:   Smash both shell and meat together and boil in water.  The shells will sink to the bottom, allegedly.  The meat will float in the middle, supposedly.  The oil is supposed to rise to the top and can then be drawn off for cooking oil or body lotion by using a feather.  After the oil has been removed and the meat is soft, the meat can be dried in cakes, to be ground into bread meal or a breakfast mush later.

As in other books about sequences of Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, and Proto-history, in other parts of the country, the characteristics of each era is very nearly the same.  The Paleo’s footprint is light: some kill sites have been found but homesteads are so rare that some have sarcastically said Paleos lived nowhere and ate nothing.  They did however drop 13,000 Clovis points in 1,500 places all over the continental United States; a few in association with extinct Mammoths.  They went where they wanted to go, no borders.

The Archaic people settled down, moved into caves and rock shelters and otherwise put down roots in a migratory manner, here in the summer, there in the winter, and started gathering as much as they hunted.  They also started making celts and axes and other woodworking tools, and encouraged wild plants to produce more.

The Woodland people are the mound builders, pottery makers, and the users of bows and arrows, and the corn, beans, and squash agriculturalists. They are the ones who established regional religious ceremonial centers with relatively dense populations and long range trade networks.

And as elsewhere in the continental United States, for the same vague reasons, the peak of this Woodland social growth began to crash on its own just prior to European Contact, with the process of deterioration much speeded up after contact with European diseases, greed, and the mass immigration of Europeans looking for land and resources.

Who knows what would have replaced the Woodland phase if the indigenous people of the North American continent had they been left to their own devices.   It was obvious that the larger civilizations of Aztecs, Mayas, perhaps even the Incas were providing influences to the North American continent.  It is possible that something bigger and more developed than Hopewell, Cahokia, the Pueblos of the Southwest, and Mound City in Alabama probably would have happened.

But there it is.  It’s a good book with lots of detail and great presentation. Books like these are not meant to be page turners, but this one is more readable than most.

Ray Strischek

Editor, THE DART.

Archaic Stems

This is a review by Ray Strischek of the book Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points, by Noel D. Justice, and the differences between Paleo, Archaic, and Woodland spear and arrow point styles.

Conventional intellectual shorthand reduces the differences between Paleo, Archaic, and Woodland eras as follows:

  • Paleo: 18,000 BC to 7,000 BC, HUNTING!!! and gathering.
  • Archaic: 7,000 BC to 1,000 BC, HUNTING and Gathering.
  • Woodland: 1,000 BC to 1,250 AD, Hunting and GATHERING!!!

Researchers believe that, in Paleo times, hunting was the all-consuming activity.  People gathered to add spice to the meal or to ward off starvation when hunting was poor.

In Archaic times, hunting anything that walked, crawled, swam, or flew was still a priority, but gathering became a close second with an increase in labor away from hunting and directed towards teasing or encouraging  more productivity from existing forage resources. People intentionally eliminated competitor plants wherever desired food stuffs grew — tree nuts, berries, edible green leafy things, seeds, or root plants. Some called this “horticulture.”

The Woodlands era (except in Buffalo country) saw hunting reduced to a level more or less subservient to gathering, which becomes actual “agriculture,” notably an increase of time spent away from hunting and instead directed towards the planting of corn, squash, and beans in North America.  People continued to gather tree nuts, berries, seeds, green leafy things, and root plants.

Some writers like to point out that the difference between Paleo and Archaic is the introduction in Archaic times of the celt and ground stone axe. They claim that pottery in the Woodland era separated it from its prior.

Other milestones include:

  1. Paleo:  All the mega fauna go extinct and people exploit quality flint.
  2. Archaic: Population increases cause restriction of movement, birth territorialism, and  increase dependency on local flint sources.
  3. Woodlands: Religious or spiritual groups (mound builders), regional centers of influence and trade networks, specialization of tasks (flint point-making and pottery) with outlying areas somewhat to completely isolated from the trade networks and completely dependent upon local flint sources. (Have and have nots.)

Stoneage Spear and Arrow Points by Noel D Justice is one of the better Bibles for the collector out there. It is meticulously and chronologically detailed and wonderfully illustrated.  Through those details and illustrations, the author makes the differences between Paleo, Archaic, and Woodland era points immediately and visually perceptible.

  1. Paleo:  Absolutely exquisite overall craftsmanship, addiction to high-quality flint from far afield and hardly a stem to be found. OK, Scottsbluff has a stem, but that’s about all and it is considered late Paleo, even “Paleo Archaic.” In Paleo, the hafting section of the point is most often a continuation of the point form.  It’s slightly modified (thinned out at the base and dulled on the edges) with the use of flutes or heavy abrasion.  Apparently, hunting the big boys left plenty of time for Paleo Americans to sit around honing their craft, because exquisite examples far and away outnumber the crude.
  2. Archaic:  All that time redirected away from hunting and spent gathering,  the increase of population that led to restricted movement and increased dependency on local flint sources seems to have had an effect on the quality of craftsmanship overall.  In no way can the overall level of craftsmanship in the Archaic hold a candle to the Paleo.  In the Archaic, stems on points becomes the norm:  square stems, rounded stems, ovate stems, diamond shaped stems, dove tail, turkey tail, beaver tail, side notched, corner notched and that bifurcate thing that looks all the world like a pair of balls dangling from the bottom of the blade.  In the Archaic, the hafting element of the point becomes a distinctly separate design entity from the blade.  This does not mean that there are no flashy, well executed points. There are, but they are the exception to the rule.
  3. Woodlands:  Craftsmanship gets even worse except in those regional centers (like Cahokia or Hopewell) where stability through agriculture creates specialization.  However, it appears that quality flint sources fall under the distribution and control of these regional centers and leave the outlying and smaller communities stuck with crappy chert. If you are not part of the trade network, if you have nothing to trade, you get nothing. You certainly do not have access to quality flint.  And apparently, the necessity to spend much more time away from hunting and directed to gathering just to hustle up the day’s meal leaves little time to master the art of flint knapping. Simply paging through Justice’s book, you can see the de-evolution of Woodland Era — a time of crude, lumpy, shapeless, and stylistically impoverished examples of workmanship. There were apparently no truly innovative adaptations of design.  Points appear as poor distant cousin of previous eras, something flint knapping expert Charles Spear of Peru, Indiana, would call “survival points, better than nothing.”

“Atlatl Flex: Irrelevant”: A Review by Ray Strischek, Editor, The Dart

John Whittaker and Andrew Maginniss
The Atlatl 19(2):1-3 (April 2006)
See:   http://www.worldatlatl.org/Articles/Atl%20Flex%20for%20TheAtlatl_files/AtlFlexforTheAtlatl.pdf

The above article above is 10 pages in length, too long to reproduce here.  The entire text can be found at the above address.

Briefly, Whittaker and Maginniss take on a double rumor.  The first rumor is that a flexible atlatl adds more velocity to a throw than a rigid atlatl. The second is that there is some sort of raging argument about the issue out there in the community of practicing atlatlists.

The authors:

“With Whittaker as the atlatlist and Maginniss as the physicist, we hoped to shed some light on this question. We are in the process of working this up for a detailed publication, but since the results are interesting to other atlatlists, we will summarize them here without the details of the physics, which in the end are not so important anyway.”

They used math, digital cameras, strobe lights, and atlatls that varied in flexibility.  Their math suggested that a good flexible atlatl might provide up to 10% more velocity to the speed of the dart, but the results showed:

“In spite of our mathematical models, the results of our experiments forced us to the conclusion that atlatl flex has little or no effect on the velocity of the dart.”

The authors conclude that the atlatl remains flexed throughout the throwing motion and only after the dart has separated from the atlatl does the atlatl return to rigidity.  They claim that this change comes too late in the process to provide any stored up energy to the velocity of the dart.

So is there any usefulness for a flexible atlatl?

“One possible function of atlatl flex is that it could help to reduce error from human induced irregularities in the throw. It might buffer some of the jerkiness of a throw, producing smoother, more regular acceleration.

Editor’s note: I agree.  I have in previous articles explained the benefits of using a flexible atlatl. During the throwing motion, an atlatlist first pulls the atlatl and dart horizontally forward until the atlatl handle passes in front of his face, at which time he begins to lever the atlatl upward while still pulling forward.  The dart has already started flexing causing the “jerkiness” noted by the authors.  At a point during the throwing motion, when the atlatl has been levered into a vertical position, the strain of pushing the atlatl against the resisting flexing dart can be felt from wrist to elbow and even in the shoulder.  If the atlatl is a rigid atlatl, the strain can actually become somewhat painful after an all day long atlatl event.  With the flexible atlatl like a spring, the flexing atlatl acts like a shock absorber.  It reduces the strain and pain caused by the resistance of the flexing dart.  It provides a smooth transition from pulling and levering to pushing and levering.  It allows the throw to conclude with a brisk, downward wrist flick.

If you experience pain during the throwing motion, you are apt to flinch or in some other way deviate from the preferred throwing technique.  You’re trying to escape or somehow lessen the strain and pain.  Unfortunately, deviation opens you up to error of technique.

Similarly, if you no longer experience pain during the throwing motion, you can pay more attention to technique and, thus, achieve better accuracy.

The atlatlists I have encountered who have suffered most from shoulder/rotator cusp problems, chronic wrist pain, or atlatl elbow problems often used rigid atlatls with a hammer grip throwing technique. The atlatl elbow problem, however, seems more often related to using heavy atlatl weights.

In my opinion, a more visible debate rages over the purpose of the atlatl weight. Some suggesting that the weight provides more velocity.  I hold that the weight provides stability during the throwing motion for a smoother, more controlled arch, all of which aids in accuracy.

The authors also take up the rumors associated with darts.  Some claim that the flex of the dart adds to the velocity of the throw. The authors claim that the velocity of the dart comes from the muscle in the arm propelling the dart.  In regards to dart flex, they offer this:

 “Perhaps dart flex does help increase dart velocity, not through releasing its potential energy, but rather by its effects on the throwing motion. Our slow motion footage shows that for some of the more flexible darts filmed, the point of atlatl/dart release is further along in the rotation than with the less flexible darts. The less flexible wooden darts from Bob Berg, which were used in the atlatl flex experiments, would be released almost perfectly straight above the throwing hand or at 90 degrees of rotation. The more flexible cane darts that Whittaker normally throws were sometimes released as far as at 105 degrees of rotation.This extra 15 degrees might increase the velocity of the dart byadding to the time that the atlatl is actually accelerating the dart, and therefore the more flexible darts may be more efficient than the less flexible darts. “

 Editor’s note:  These rumors — that flexing atlatls provide more velocity, that flexing darts provide more velocity, and that atlatl weights provide more velocity — are old rumors.  The first to bandy them about (besides perhaps even the original inventors, of course) were trained archeologists nearly 50 years ago. Today, 21st century atlatlists competing in atlatl and dart accuracy contests around the world dig them up.

It seems to me that John Whittaker and Andrew Maginniss are on to something here and I look forward to finding the more detailed report they promised to make of this.

Ray Strischek, Editor, The Dart

Flint Ridge 2012 – Atlatl and Flint Knapping Event at Flint Ridge State Park in Ohio

WHAT: Flint Ridge 2012 is an extravaganza of Flint Knapping, primitive arts and crafts, and atlatl competitions. There are usually about 200 vendors selling flint, flint knapping kits, copper, gems, primitive bows, atlatls and darts, and all sorts of leather goods completed or in kits along with all sorts of arts and crafts supplies. Vendors start showing up as early as Tuesday to get a good spot and to do some early flint purchases and swaps. Some people bring trailers full of flint from as far away as Texas and New Hampshire. The cost to visitors is $5.00 per car per day.

WHEN: Memorial Day Weekend: Friday August 31, Saturday September 1, and Sunday September 2.

WHAT: Flint Ridge 2012 is an extravaganza of Flint Knapping, primitive arts and crafts, and atlatl competitions.  There are usually about 200 vendors selling flint, flint knapping kits, copper, gems, primitive bows, atlatls and darts, and all sorts of leather goods completed or in kits along with all sorts of arts and crafts supplies.  Vendors start showing up as early as Tuesday to get a good spot and to do some early flint purchases and swaps.  Some people bring trailers full of flint from as far away as Texas and New Hampshire.  The cost to visitors is $5.00 per car per day.

WHERE: Flint Ridge State Park Hopewell Township, Ohio


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WHAT ELSE: There is a mineral shop 1/4 east of the park where people can rent a bucket and shovel and go dig up Flint Ridge flint in the area adjacent to the park.  The park itself has a museum featuring flint and artifacts associated with the park and walking trails through the wooded areas where all the ancient flint mine pits and where Native Americans from 15000 BC to historical times excavated flint for spear and arrow points for personal use and trade.  Flint Ridge flint points spanning Clovis to Archaic times have been found as far west as Oregon, south to Florida, and east to New York.

WHO: If you want to learn to knapp flint, there will be hundreds of people there to learn from.  You just have to ask nicely. Remember, nobody is paid to be there or paid to teach anyone anything.  However, these folks really love what they do and love to share what they know to anyone who seems really interested in learning.

THE AUCTION: Saturday evening, there is a huge auction where vendors provide items to be auctioned in order for the organizing host, The Flint Ridge Runners, to raise money to pay expenses associated with putting on the event.

ATLATLS: The Ohio Atlatl Association sets up an atlatl range on the east side of the activities.  We have a place for beginners to learn and a range for competitions.  We supply atlatls and darts for the beginner.  Competitions consist of the Ohio Accuracy Competition which folks can do three times in a day, and the World Atlatl Association ISAC competition which in limited to once a day.  There are no set times for the competition  as it is much like golf … get at least 3 people, pick up a score sheet, and go for it whenever you are good and ready. The atlatl event is free of charge.

Doug Bassett, current WAA ISAC leader, will be there as will a couple of other former WAA champions.  The highest possible score for the ISAC is 100 with the ability to score 10 Xs.  The X is a small ring inside the bullseye.  Doug Bassett has scored above 90 in the ISAC an astounding 222 times. Doug Bassett has consistently taken home the OAA championship award every year for several years in the Masters event, as has is son Marlin in the Youth Championship.

So, if you never have operated the atlatl and dart and would like to learn, or have your own gear and want to get in on the competitions, or want to learn how to make arrow heads come to Flint Ridge State Park on Memorial Day.

DIRECTIONS TO FLINT RIDGE STATE PARK IN OHIO:

Flint Ridge Park is about 25 miles east of Columbus Ohio, north of I-70.  If you are coming from the direction of Columbus, get off at the Brownsville exit, drive into Brownsville and follow the Flint Ridge signs.  You will basically turn left at the main drag  (SR 40) in Brownsville, then hang and immediate right, drive 3 miles north on Brownsville Rd , and there you are.

If you are coming from the east, get off I-70 at the Gratiot exit before Brownsville, turn left on to SR 40, drive into Brownsville and hang a right on Brownsville Rd, drive north for 3 miles and there you are.

SR-40 is also known as the National Road which used to run between Washington and Columbus but there are only parts of it remaining.

Hope to see you there!

Ice Age Art Found in Florida

Is this evidence of the first “mammoth” (proboscidean) art found in the Americas?

Bone incision of proboscidean found in Florida

Could be a fake, maybe not.  Bone incised with image of mammoth found in Vero, Florida.  I read a book recently about Ice Age Vero, Florida, in which human remains/artifacts were found in association with pre0-Clovis critters.  There, like at Meadowcroft, the pre-Clovis age is heavily disputed by the non-believers.

Sources:

Redorbit
Frontiers of Anthropology
The research is published online June 12 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.