Tag Archives: atlatls

Harvesting Bamboo for Atlatl Darts in Georgia

Tying the bundles of cane.
Tying the bundles of cane.

Cutting cane on Gardenia Island and Tortuga Island is the high point of the year for me because it is an escape from the torture of Arctic air that we experience this time of the year up here in the snow belt of Upstate New York. It almost seems like spring time when we step onto our favorite island sanctuaries, where bamboo grows like giant stalks of grass waving in the soft warm winds of the Okeefenokee Swamp.

The bamboo grows strong and straight in those parts and makes outstanding dart shafts that fly like the Thunderbird. It takes a lot of hard and careful work to harvest, season, heat treat and straighten these shafts but the effort is worth it. It is always kind of a downer as we travel north through Pennsylvania on our way back and start seeing the snow again. Oh well, it’s back to winter.

bambooo Bob3

bamboo bob2

cane darts after heat straightening

Atlatl and Dart Sets, unique, memorable and practical gifts! Order Today!

Are you looking for a unique gift that will tie in history, sport, exercise, science and fun? Well, an atlatl and dart set combines all that and more! Plus atlatls and darts can be used by people of all ages!

Atlatls and darts are a great inter-generational sport. People from youth to elders and everybody in between enjoy atlatl competitions and games throughout the United States.

Thunderbird Atlatl is proud to offer our wide variety of atlatls, darts, atlatl kits and dart kits for holiday gift giving. Order now, before November 30 and beat the holiday crunch. We make atlatl sets that have been tailored to various kinds of atlatl users. We offer tried and true hunting equipment and fishing harpoons as well as target equipment designed for individuals at every level of atlatl competition from absolute beginners to advanced competitors. We also make equipment especially designed for group activities like Boy Scouts, 4H clubs or other youth and adult oriented organizations. Atlatl clubs and organizations abound including the World Atlatl Association and many regional groups. And you could always start your own group.

Our atlatls and darts are truly made in the United States from locally grown hardwood and materials. All of our atlatls have been designed by us and made in our shop. We pride ourselves on our over 20 years of service to the atlatl community.

Atlatls, a sister sport to archery are delightful gifts because they tie in so many interests together into one package from flintknapping, competitions, atlatl hunting, atlatl fishing, and survival skills. In the primitive skills arena, atlatls are often part of workshops that combine fire by friction, cordage making, flintknapping and fletching. Atlatls also have an interesting connection to history and pre-history.

Atlatls require a shorter range than archery and it is easy to set up a little competition area in a back yard or field near your home. Atlatl ranges can be set up in areas as small as alleys between buildings or inside larger buildings with 12 feet or more of ceiling height. You just have to make sure that an errant shot will not damage anything behind your target.

Thunderbird Atlatl Bob Berg’s expertise covers over twenty years of experimentation, learning and teaching throughout the atlatl world. Bob has taught hundreds of workshops throughout the United States and Europe.

Check out our various atlatls and give us a call at 800-836-4520 or email us at contact@thunderbirdatlatl.com with questions.

We look forward to hearing from you. Shown below are some of our atlatls and darts. Our darts come in five, six and seven foot sizes. Fletching colors vary depending on supply.

Thunderbird Atlatl offers a wide variety of atlatls.
Thunderbird Atlatl offers a wide variety of atlatls and darts.
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Getting Ready for Holiday Orders!

Happy Thanksgiving! The Thunderbird Atlatl shop is ready for the holiday ordering season. We will attempt to keep the online catalog updated with inventory supplies. While we are happy to do special orders, we cannot promise all special orders before Christimas. Give us a call at 800-836-4520 if you have a special request.

We usually can ship priority mail through the post office through December 20th and still have items arrive by Christmas. To guarantee service, you might want to try Express mail or go through Fed Ex or UPS.

It’s best to try to place your order before December 15 to assure Christmas delivery. We will also be offering Gift Certificates online. We can email the gift certificates or send them through regular mail service.

Happy Holidays!

Melting Ice Sheet Reveals 10,000 Year Old Atlatl Dart

Pictures and stories were all over this week of a 10,000 year-old atlatl dart which showed up after an ice sheet melted near Yellowstone National Park.

Craig Lee of the University of Colorado at Boulder discovered the dart. The three foot long dart was bent with a sharp kink in it when discovered. It had a projectile point on one end and a cup or dimple on the other end. It is a birch sapling. To read more about this find and to see a photo, check out this link: Atlatl Dart Discovered

If you are ready to check out some newer atlatl darts, Thunderbird Atlatl has wooden and cane darts available in sizes ranging from five foot to seven foot. Darts are sold individually or in bundles of seven darts. It’s best to order at least three darts as shipping is based on length rather than weight and it’s difficult to ship one dart.

You can order through our web page or give us a call at 800-836-4520 or try our cell phone at 607-743-4379.

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Some of the darts manufactured by Thunderbird Atlatl

Traditional Darts

Introduction to Atlatls

Welcome to our introduction to atlatls! This is a quick introduction to atlatls for absolute newbies.


Atlatls are devices used to throw darts (spears). These devices were developed throughout the world by such civilizations as the Aztecs, Aborigines of Australia and Indonesia, the Incas, Inuits and many more. It is unknown exactly where the atlatl originated but archeological evidence shows that it has been in use for at least fifteen thousand years. It is possible that it was invented and reinvented many times over hundreds of thousands of years by countless cultures. 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, which makes the darts able to fly much faster and with much more force, with less power provided by the thrower. Above is a picture of Robert Berg demonstrating the use of the atlatl.

The atlatl is usually about 15″ to 30″ long, and on one end has a hook of some sort, and the other end has some sort of hand hold. The hook on the end of the atlatl is typically made out of bone, wood or horn, and is designed to connect to the back end of the dart. Each dart has a small dimple at the end that fits the hook. The dart lays parallel to the atlatl, and at the handle end it is held in place by the fore finger and thumb. Some atlatls, such as the one in the picture above have rests for the dart, others don’t. The varieties and types of atlatls are almost endless, and each has different features.

The atlatl is held in the thrower’s preferred hand, with the dart parallel to the atlatl. The thrower points the dart at the intended target, steps into the direction of the shot, while the end of the atlatl swings around in a flipping motion, pushing the dart forward. As soon as the cast is started, the dart is released by the fingers holding it, while the atlatl itself is retained in the hand. Centrifugal force keeps the spur in contact with the knock dimple. Then, it is simply a matter of following through until the dart leaves the atlatl. Many different types of throwing styles have been developed by different atlatlists but they all are something like this.

One of the many atlatl designs available from Thunderbird Atlatl

Atlatls and darts vary in size, shape, material and quality. There are as many styles of atlatls and darts as there are atlatlists. The equipment of atlatlists varies from the simplest stick-like atlatls to elaborate, decorated atlatls that are pieces of art as well as deadly weapons. Weights are often used both to decorate atlatls and to improve their stability, balance, and accuracy. No atlatl is complete without a good set of matchinng darts. Darts range from 5 feet to 8 feet, but average about six feet long. Competition and hunting darts tend to be longer. Usually, the longer the dart, the more accurate it is — but the longer it is, the shorter the distance is that it can be cast. Atlatls, darts and parts to them have been made from many different kinds of materials including, wood, metal, stone, bone and cane. (Check out Thunderbird’s many different designs) Each has its purpose, form following the function of each of the various designs.

Atlatls are used by many enthusiasts for both target shooting and hunting. Atlatl hunting is legal in several states, including Missouri, Alabama, Nebraska and Alaska, but the majority of states do not yet allow it. Wild Boars are most often hunted, but many animals, from Fallow Deer to Caribou have been killed by the atlatl in recent times. Many Atlatl enthusiasts are lobbying their state governments to legalize atlatl hunting and fishing just like bow and firearm hunting is allowed. If you live in a place where atlatl hunting is illegal, contact your local state legislature and voice your support for legalizing atlatl hunting and fishing.

For those of you who are not into the hunting or fishing aspects of the atlatl, there are dozens of atlatl contests held throughout the world (See the shows section). There also is a World Atlatl Association, which we encourage you to join. Among the many benefits of the World Atlatl Association is the news letter that will help keep you abreast of the latest information about atlatls and events in the world. They also keep track of the top atlatl scores throughout the world in a contest called the International Standard Accuracy Contest (ISAC) that measures the skill level of each contestant, relitive to all the other contestants.With more and more atlatlists taking their first throws every day, and ever increasing interest being expressed , the sport is one of the fastest growing pastimes around.

Thank you for reading this introduction to atlatls!

Written by Peter Berg, 1999.