Making your own atlatl or spear thrower and darts is a satisfying experience plus it saves you money! We make great atlatl and dart kits here at Thunderbird Atlatl. Our kits have been featured in Make Magazine.
Now, thanks to the efforts of our webmaster and videographer Peter Berg, we have posted our atlatl kit instructions to our website. We are also uploading instructional videos on each of the kits to You Tube and posting them on our website. The first video on making your own dart kit is now available.
Below is an example of a dart and a Wyalusing atlatl made by one of our customers. The second picture shows participants in one of our workshops making their own darts. This workshop takes place every year at the Chimney Point Historic Site in Vergennes, VT.
Wyalusing Atlatl and dart made by William Moss.
Workshop at Chimney Point
In this short video, Bob Berg shows why using an atlatl is an improvement over throwing spears with your bare hand. See the difference in speed and penetration!
Back in the early ’90s when I first started designing atlatls, I was working a carpentry job in Wyalusing, PA. At the time, I was experimenting with atlatls with rests, and ended up creating one of the first original Atlatl designs in a thousand years, and the first official Thunderbird atlatl. I decided to name it the “Wyalusing” after the town I was working in — it was a word of Indian origin, and it had a nice ring to it.
“Wyalusing” comes from Native American words: “Wigalusing” meaning, “the good hunting ground” and “M’chwihilusing” meaning “the place of the hoary veteran.” M’chwihilusing which was the original name of Wyalusing, prior to European settlement.
Over the next year, I designed several other Atlatls and decided to keep with the theme of naming them after local Indian names — towns, rivers, lakes and such. Soon, the Wappasening, the Tioga, the Hiawatha, the Catatonk, and several other designs were born.
We’ve kept up with this trend for the past twenty years, and several other atlatl manufacturers that came after Thunderbird Atlatl seem to have liked this idea as well, and followed suit.
Here’s a map with all of these places plotted out on a map. The red dot in the middle is our shop, and you can see that all of the Indian-named places nearby were our inspiration. Most of them come from Iroquois names – the 6 tribes that made up the Iroquois Confederation were centered around modern day New York State.
View Larger Map
Every Winter Solstice, we have a tradition of throwing a flaming atlatl dart to start our campfire at our Winter Solstice Party. It’s a great way to ring in the Christmas season and the new year on the shortest day of the year.
Here’s a video this year’s flaming dart throw(s). Bob Berg of Thunderbird Atlatl does the honors:
From all of us at Thunderbird Atlatl, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We’ve been trying to do some short videos showing how to use our various atlatls. Check out Thunderbird Atlatl’s You Tube channel to see the videos. One of them is posted below. We will be posting more over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, we are trying to gear up for holiday orders. Order early to get the best options for your holiday gift giving.
We had a busy season traveling and are glad to be back at the shop. As usual we met a lot of great people on the road and it’s always great to see old friends and fellow atlatlists in our travels.
The photo below is from a workshop Bob Berg did in May through the Primitive Pursuits program in Ithaca, NY.