Rural System's

Atlatl Spearing

Pronounce it ott-lottle or at-ul-at-ul, The Spear-Throwing Sport


1. Experiment with atlatl.
2. Establish a local range.
3. Study expansion of the sport.

Information and Diagnoses

First discovered in use by Fulsom people over 10, 900 years ago. The atlatl is a throwing stick used to project a spear. It may have attached stone weights. The atlatl is a device that is used to lengthen the arm, adding a greater mechanical advantage than throwing a spear with one's bare hands. It can make the darts fly much faster and with much more force and with less power provided by the unaided person. The throwing device or thrower is shaped like a large 2 foot long crochet hook with finger loops at the handle end. The hook is inserted into a carved depression in the end of the spear and the spear is thrown with a motion similar to throwing a baseball. This extension of the arm creates 2 1/2 times the force and results in a person being able to throw the spear 2 1/2 times the distance allowing for hunting at a distance. It was one of the great inventions of humankind and preceded the bow and arrow. An atlatlist can throw a dart without an atlatl perhaps 30 yards. With an atlatl he or she can throw it three or four times that far.

This activity is planned as sport only, emphasizing history and successes of ancient people, but including exercise, hiking and active recreation, and its various uses in going after unique GPSence targets.

Like archery, this sport can be dangerous. Placement of targets and position of nearby people is critical. Warm-ups for throwing are recommended. There are laws prohibiting use of such weapons in hunting and spear-fishing. Only ethical hunting is tolerated and game taken by spear-throwing is done solely for consumption as food. Contact local authorities about regulations, laws, and limits.

Rural System promotes the sport, sets up courses, cooperates with existing related enterprises, and sponsors contests for distance and accuracy. It recommends low-technology by restricting competition to primitive (non-metalic, non-plastic) instruments. (High technology is the straight bow, then later guns. Reverting high-energy costs options to a primitive weapon is seen as silly. ) Demonstrations of other atlatls and their properties are encouraged as part of shows and events.

Relate to products of the Bamboo Group.

See links below.

Excellent general introduction.

See Everet Kelly's The Atlatl, Trade Paperback Publisher: Publishing Date Published: 04/2004 ISBN: 1589395603

See the World Atlatl Association

The World Atlatl Magazine


Possible contact: Pennsylvania Atlatl Association, Chuck Butorjac, PO Box 533. Ligonier, PA 15658, Phone: (412) 238-6878

Perhaps you will share ideas with Rural System staff about some of the topics above.

Revisions: Sept 5, 2004, October, 2005, December 23, 2009