Category Archives: How To

Aztec Atlatl Battle Instructions

Aztec Atlatl Battle is a field game that pits two teams consisting of eight atlatlists against each other. Each team will have one person designated “Chief” and one person designated “Shaman”, all other players are designated “warriors”.

The 12 yard by 80 yard playing field represents a section of causeway that once linked the Aztec city of Tenochchitlan with the mainland. Each atlatlist must have an atlatl and three darts. In addition each contestant must be represented by a target made from ethelfoam or similar material that is 24″ square and two inches thick. Radiating concentrically from the center, the targets must have a 6″ inner circle of blue, around that is a twelve inch circle of red , and outside that is the final ring of 20 ” in yellow. The targets are held off the ground by hardwood tripods three feet high. The tripods should be of a design to be able to be easily moved with “feet” that allow them to be planted sturdily into the ground yet hold the target center 3 feet from the ground.

The field of play is cordoned off with rope or tape in a rectangle 12 yards by 80 yards inside a safety zone 50 yards by 120 yards. The playing field is divided into eight 10 yard sections called zones.

The play occurs in rounds. In each round each person shoots the amount of darts allotted to him or her from directly behind his or her respective target.

Each person starts with 3 darts. Regardless of the order of shooting everyone gets to shoot all of his allotted darts for that round. For safety’s sake only one shooter is allowed on the field at a time. The order of shooting is of no importance and may be determined by the Judge. Everyone must be ready to take his or her turn as it comes to keep the game moving.

After everyone has shot, the round is over and the “dead” are removed from the field. The wounded give up one or two of their darts.

  • Those hit in the yellow ring give up one dart and those hit in the red must give up two darts. Anyone hit in the blue is considered dead.
  • The Shaman reside in their respective end zones. Shaman are not allowed to move to any other zone but they may move to any location in the end zone that they desire.
  • Chiefs are allowed to move to any zone except their opponents end zone, at the end of a round. No one may move beyond or into a zone occupied by a “live” opponent. In other words a person may not move past the “war front”. However after a round where all opposing soldiers are killed in a particular zone the zone may be occupied by any one who is in position, when the round is over.
  • Warriors may be in any zone except the end zones, however they must move only one zone at a time between rounds.

At the beginning of the game the Chief and Shaman start in the end zone and two warriors start in each of the other zones at their respective ends of the field, so two contestants will occupy each of the zones at first. The Shaman may allow the Chief to shoot his three darts if he so desires, as long as the chief is alive. The Chief may shoot the Shaman’s darts from behind his own target regardless of his location on the field.

It is the duty of the Chief to direct his team, be he dead or alive.

At the beginning of the game the chief determines the placement of his team members targets. A very important part of the game is the strategy and game plan. Each team should be constantly trying to devise a plan to foil their opponent.

It is recommended that each team provide their own tent on opposite sides of the field for shade from the sun. It will also make it safer than to have people roaming around if people stay in the general area of their tent.

A field judge shall be chosen who is familiar with the rules of the game and general safety rules of the sport. All decisions of the Judge are final as to scoring. In addition to this the Judge has the right to dismiss anyone violating safety rules from the field. The Judge may appoint a Safety Assistant to watch the field for safety problems. Both the Judge and his Assistant shall have a whistle, which when blown shall stop all shooting. After the safety issue has been resolved, the Judge may resume play with a verbal signal.

This is a preliminary draft of the rules of this game. The rules may need to be changed as necessary to assure the safety first of all and the fairness of play.

This game is authored by Robert S. Berg of Thunderbird Atlatl, Copyright 2000.