The Atlatl, or Throwing Stick, A Recent Study of Atlatls in Use with Darts of Various Sizes

Author(s): Malcolm W Hill

Year: 1948


J. Whittaker: Importance of different grips. Could use one hand to hold back dart and add flexing force to throw if atlatl flexible, “grasping the handle of the atlatl with the left hand and the spur end, including the rear end of the dart, with the right hand.” Probably influenced invention of bow. He then says “sweeping movement is necessary to propel the dart.” But he claims the 2-hand method works in cramped quarters to “propel the dart with the wrist alone 40-50 feet.” [Absurd – I can’t believe that after experimentation he still suggested this.] Darts less than 30” didn’t work well. Small darts better up to 60 yards. Rigid atlatl gives longer throws than flexible. Recognizes limitations of his reproductions and skill [also small samples of throws]. Two atlatls tested with and without small weights near handle, “their value was definitely negative.” [Actually, it seems to improve distance for the light darts, but not for the medium or heavier, but as he only measured 6 shots for each of 12 trials, probably not statistically significant.]

Max throw 242 feet. [Illustrations show he tried a variety of atlatl forms.]

Cite this Record

The Atlatl, or Throwing Stick, A Recent Study of Atlatls in Use with Darts of Various Sizes. Malcolm W Hill. Tennessee Archaeologist. 4 (4): 37-44. 1948 ( tDAR id: 415618)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Atlatl Ethnoarchaeology Weapon

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager

Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 1870


Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.