Category Archives: How To

How to set up a One Tarp Tent (with a door and a floor)

And now for something completely different!

Bob Berg​ demonstrates how to make a simple tent (with a door and a floor) with just one tarp, one piece of rope, one pole, and four stakes. Total cost: About $15. Total time: 5-10 minutes. Save time and money the next time you go camping!

Materials needed:
-Tarp (12’x16′)
-10′ Rope
-8′ Pole
-4+ Stakes
-Hammer or a rock to pound in the stakes

*NOTE: The tarp’s dimensions must be a ratio of 4:3. If you would like to build a bigger or smaller tent, just scale all the dimensions appropriately. (eg: 15′ x 20′ tarp, with a 10′ pole and a 12-15′ rope).*

Atlatl Weights as a Counter Balance (Video)

What’s the purpose of an atlatl weight? Here’s a video of Bob Berg discussing his theory on why atlatl weights (boat stones) are a counterbalance for heavy darts. Bob doesn’t believe that weights are for adding more “power” or “speed” to your atlatl throw, as many have theorized, but actually to make holding a loaded dart more comfortable and balanced while hunting. Bob also explains why bannerstones are not atlatl weights.

Making the Conical Copper Atlatl Dart Point

copper points
The conical copper points that are found in the Great Lakes area of the United States were originally produced by people from The Old Copper Culture. The copper “culture” began as early as 7000 years ago by some estimates so it is likely to have embraced many cultures over dozens of centuries. The conical copper point was used for the entire time so it must have been a very successful design. Not only are they a good design but the color of the copper is beautiful.

My experiments using this style of copper point have proven to me that they are also a very successful modern atlatl dart point design as well. An interesting quality of copper is that it work hardens. As you create the point it makes it very hard and resistant to damage. The tips of copper points will often bend but it is very easy to straighten them out even while you are afield using a couple of rocks; one as a hammer and the other as an anvil.

I have experimented with natural copper nuggets several times but it is rare and expensive to get so I use modern copper sheets to produce the conical copper points I make. The thickness of the copper I start with is usually 1/16” or thicker. I start by cutting triangles of copper with a tin snip that are about 2 ½” long by the diameter of the dart times three and one half. The next step is to hammer the three edges so they taper down to almost paper thinness. The reason for this is that in forming the cone the two sides need to overlap. I use a ball peen hammer and an anvil. In addition to these tools I use a mandrill and a wooden block with a half cone shape carved out that matches the mandrill shape.

After hammering out the edges I anneal the copper in a fire or in the flame of a torch. I then use the mandrill and wood block to begin rolling the cone, and then finish it by hammering the cone around the mandrill. The ancient Old Copper Culture People used mandrills hammered from copper. I use iron mandrills that I make on my metal lathe. I have also used temporary mandrills made of hardwood like Osage or Hard Maple.

Conical points have an added advantage in that they have a very large glue surface area which means that you can use traditional pine resin glue to fasten them onto your dart shaft.

I have had a few darts last several years without the copper points coming off. When copper points are new the tips are so pointy that they will penetrate as well as stone points or broadheads and it is very likely that people of the Old Copper Culture used conical copper points for hunting and fishing.

By Bob Berg

Getting Your Atlatl Equipment Ready for the Season!

Okay atlatlists, spring is just around the corner! It’s time to get that equipment out and get ready to go to some atlatl events or just have some fun on your own!

Check your darts and get them ready. You can easily “fluff” out the feathers on your darts by holding them over a steaming kettle of water. It’s amazing how this simple procedure will put new life into your dart fletchings! Hold the dart over the steam and gently preen the feathers into shape.

Straightening your wood darts you have purchased from Thunderbird Atlatl, can be accomplished by gently bending the dart in the direction you wish to straighten it. For a more permanent fix or for a stubborn bend, apply heat to the dart with a flame such as a propane torch or kitchen range making it easier to bend the dart in the direction you want. After it cools the dart “sets” and will usually remain straight. If you have any questions, just give us a call at 800-836-4520 and we will be happy to help you!

FREE Atlatl Fever DVD with $200 or more in merchandise orders! Order $200 or more (not including shipping) of atlatl merchandise and we will send you a free copy of our Atlatl Fever DVD through midnight March 20 (Pacific Standard Time)

Here are a few photos of Bob Berg’s workshop in Micanopy, Florida with the Florida Outdoors Ministry program. Thanks to Frank Williams for hosting.

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