How to Cast a Dart with an Atlatl

(Video is best at full-screen with volume up all the way.  Watch with amazement as Ray nails an old tree stump … Instructions assume you are right handed. Reverse instructions as appropriate if you are left handed.)


1. Stand up straight and tall, facing the target, feet spread shoulders width apart, left foot slightly in front of the right, left toes pointing at the target.

2. Hold the atlatl and dart horizontally close to and just slightly above your head, with the handle of the atlatl slightly behind your ear.

3. Aim the whole dart (not just the point) at an imaginary vertical line running up and down through the center of the target.

4. Raise the point end of the dart up at an angle appropriate to the amount of travel and drop the dart will experience over the distance to the target, due to your force of cast. You will need to cast (throw your elbow) into that angle.

5. Prepare to cast. Your right elbow should be as high as your shoulder. Your right elbow will need to stay as high as your shoulder all the way through the cast.

6. Rock back slightly, draw the atlatl and dart back slightly. Step off with your left foot, move your entire body forward. Pull the atlatl and dart forward, then start pushing and levering the atlatl upward and forward and keep your elbow above your shoulder as you go. Gather momentum as you go. At the end of the cast with your elbow still above your shoulder, quickly flick your wrist until the dart separates from the atlatl.

(Think: pull, push/lever, and flick)

What not to do:

1. Don’t bend over at the waist during the cast.

2. Don’t drop your elbow below your shoulder during the cast.

(Image from John Wittaker’s “Coaching the Atlatl”)