All posts by Peter Berg

Flint Ridge KnapIn Labor Day Weekend

The Thunderbird Atlatl crew will be at the annual Flint Ridge KnapIn at the Flint Ridge Memorial Park in Brownsville, Ohio, this weekend. The event takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 4, 5 and 6. The event is hosted by the Flint Ridge Lithic Society.

For information on atlatl events at Flint Ridge, contact Steve Barnett 740-698-6553 or Ray Strischek 740-593-2365

After Thursday, you can reach us on our cell phone at 607-743-4379 or call our 800 number – 800-836-4520 and leave a message. We will be back in Candor on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Despite rain, the Old Stone Tool Show at Letchworth State Park was a fun event with many atlatlists showing up. Doug Bassett did an amazing job organizing the event.

Other Labor Day weekend atlatl events are listed below:
Sept. 4-6
21st Annual Montana Mammoth Hunt
at the First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park, near Ulm, Montana
ISAC all three days and European field round on Saturday and Sunday
Contact Robert Tompson at (406) 866-2219

Sept. 4-6
Tyoga Shoot-off
389 Simkin Rd. Elmira, New York
ISAC, IASAC, Hunters Animal Round, Distance throw, Individuals, Team competition, NYAA Qualifying. A New York Atlatl Association, Inc. sponsored and insured event.
Contact: Jack 570-888-8258 or Tom Goble; 607-215-9405

Sept. 5-6
Cool Blanket atlatl throw & ISAC. Cheyenne, Wyoming
Open to all, equipment and instruction cheerfully provided.
Sponsored by the Wyoming Atlatl and Social Club.
Contact: Gary/Regina Dodson (307-632-0766)
or Russell Richard (307-772-0550) for location and time.

Happy New Year!!

We’re looking forward to a year of atlatl adventures! Our shop is open through New Year’s Eve if you have any last minute orders, you want to get in- give us a call 800-836-4520 or

We hope to meet many more of you in our travels this year. Please feel free to give us a call about any atlatl questions or needs.

Holiday Orders! Gift Certificates Available too!

We’re in the last week for holiday orders in order to get them to you by Christmas delivery. We usually ship by US Priority mail which promises delivery in 2 to 3 days although at this time of year, it might be 3 to 4 days. The last day we will ship any orders via priority mail for delivery by December 25 is Saturday, December 20th. We can also check shipping via UPS or Fed Ex.

We can ship through the post office, UPS or Fed Ex via overnight to insure a guaranteed delivery. We will check overnight shipping to your location with the post office if your have an order that is going out anytime after Dec. 20th. Give us a call at 800-836-4520 and we will be happy to work with you!

Gift certificates are available through the mail or email for any amount. Just call or email us and we will be happy to send out a gift certificate for you.

Thank you all for purchasing our products. We enjoy getting to know our customers through phone calls, email and at the events we attend each year. We look forward to seeing many of you in 2009.

Video: Prelude to Traditional Fletching

Prelude to Traditional Fletching is a new video just completed by Thunderbird Atlatl. The video shows how to make traditional thread using hemp fiber. This is a great video for those wanting to learn the techniques for traditional fletching.

We’re planning to release new videos on this site so be sure to keep checking back.

Making Cane Atlatl Darts: Straightening Georgia’s World Record Setting Bamboo

Mark Bracken, Four Time Atlatl World Champion

By Mark Bracken
Four Time Atlatl World Champion

This tutorial by Mark Bracken was originally posted at our sister site, It’s one of the best overviews of how to make cane or bamboo darts.

Step One

You can do this by storing the cane in tied bundles of twelve or so. In the winter, I dry my cane in the house where it is warm and dry. In the summer, the attic is the place of choice. Drying the cane should take about three to six months. In my opinion, I usually use FULLY SEASON THE CANE before attempting to straighten it. The method you use should not be one that uses extreme heat, This might crack the cane unexpectedly.

Once it has been seasoned, it may have a green color to it; this is ok, exposure to the sun will brown them. Now that your cane is dry, sand or cut off the little buds at each node. Take caution in removing the buds from the skinny end, as not to gouge the shaft as the bud is removed. You could leave a little extra material here for added strength. The reason is this area is a weak point and can break when you’re straitening it.
This next step is for extremely dry cane only.

Now, trust me on this, soak your cane shafts in water for 12 to 24 hours before straitening them. This rehydrates them and makes the process almost “risk free” – as far as unexpected breakages. If you try to straiten dry cane with heat, they will scorch quickly and unexpectedly break! The added moisture will evaporate very quickly as you straiten them leaving them as dry as the were before! I soak my cane in a PVC pipe. Where you soak yours is up to your imagination. Trust me, this is the way to go!

The next day, take your cane out of the water and wipe it off with a cloth while it is still wet. This makes cleaning the cane a “snap”. Use dry heat not steam!. I use a propane heater turned down very low.

Step Two

First working on every other section between the nodes, (look at the picture below for my definitions of “nodes” and “segments”.) Then as it has cooled, do the remaining segments. (It really helps here to work on more than one shaft. This gives each shaft a chance to cool before you monkey with it – if it’s still warm, you will screw up what ever you just straitened.

Straightening Cane Darts

Step Three

Straighten every other node.

Step Four

Straighten the remaining nodes.

Step Five

This is the step where you’re fine tuning and hitting those stubborn spots again.



Now let’s get started. Start by working on the areas between the nodes. Lightly and evenly brown the crooked area with a twirling motion being careful not to scorch it. The cane will take on a rubbery consistency when enough heat has been applied. Carefully bend it over your thigh, gently work the bend out with a rolling motion, this will prevent kinking. Use a leather pad on your leg to prevent burning your leg (the cane will be that hot!) You can slightly over bend it and return the shaft to a strait position. This may help to keep a finished dart from returning to it’s original shape. Some bends are just to severe to do this, use your best judgment.

Now getting back to where we were. STRAIGHTEN BETWEEN THE NODES DOING EVERY OTHER ONE, don’t panic if it looks like a BANANA after the first step is finished… It should.

The reason for doing every other node is to prevent rebending a warm area, previously straitened. You must give the shaft time to cool before fooling with bends that are “too close” to the recently straitened area. A good tip is to work 3 or more shafts allowing each one time to cool between steps. IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO WORK ON THE SEGMENTS FIRST. IF YOU DO THE NODES FIRST,THEY WILL TEND TO BEND BACK AS YOU STRAIGHTEN THE ADJACENT SEGMENTS. TRUST ME ON THIS

As you reach step five, you can test your progress by holding the nock end and rolling the dart with your fingers. The dart should rotate with a balanced attribute. It should not “lope” as you turn it. Sorta like a cam shaft on a motor. They are not straight but they are balanced. You may not be able to get your first shafts perfect. You should be able to get a good “balance”. How perfect you get them is up to you, but remember that they must have balance.



  • It is best to start on your worst piece of cane. If you break it, keep it for practice and learn the limitations of the cane Don’t worry about small kinks in your finished darts, they generally have no affect on performance.
  • Huge bends that you are unable to get strait, you can correct by working the areas up or down from the problem spot to achieve a “balanced” dart.
  • Don’t scrape the natural wax coating off the dart. This offers good natural protection from the elements. The exception to this is the area to be fletched, I scrape it off and dip or spray this portion of the dart with a varnish or varathane to aid the fletching cement’s adhesion to the shaft. I use a cement called DUCO Household Cement. I think “wally world” or “came-apart” has it.
  • Your new darts do not have to be fore shafted. I glue in copper or stone points with five min. epoxy or “J-B Weld”.
  • The points do not have to fall on a node to be strong. I use unwaxed dental floss to wrap the shaft and the base of the point. I wrap them about 2 inches up the dart from the point, THIS PREVENTS THE SHAFT FROM CRACKING IN THE EVENT YOU HIT A CONCRETE WALL, AUTOMOBILE OR MASTODON SKULL.
  • Finally I coat the whole haft with epoxy.


– Mark Bracken