Atlatl contests can take many forms. An Ithaca College student and Park Scholar, Peter Berg, has produced a reality television show called “The Race” which is patterned after the popular CBS television show “The Amazing Race”. “The Race”, unlike the national show, took place over a four day period in upstate New York. “The Race” involved six teams of two people each from Ithaca College, located in Ithaca, NY.
An atlatl challenge was one of the many challenges the participants were able to tackle during their four days of competition. The atlatl challenge was set up at the Waterman Conservation Center in Apalachin, NY on Friday, Oct. 20. The five remaining teams had to complete this challenge before receiving a clue to go on to the next phase of the race.
Bob Berg gave each team rudimentary instructions on the use of the atlatl and set them up with equipment. Their task was to shoot at the target which was placed about 12 yards away and place two darts within each of the five successively smaller rings ending with the gold bull’s eye. Complicating this was the fact that the day had been cold and rainy. The ground was at first slippery grass which quickly turned into slippery mud as the activity progressed. The action was fast and furious as the participants had to retrieve darts after each round as fast as they could on the slick surface. The contestants were all college students with varying degrees of natural talent for throwing darts with an atlatl.
Atlatls were used in another leg of the race as contestants had to locate one of five atlatls that were hidden on Hiawatha Island. Hiawatha Island is an island on the Susquehanna River near Owego, NY. Contestants had the choice of going to Hiawatha Island before or after the atlatl challnege. The competitiors who went to the island first had no knowledge of atlatls had to guess what they were.
The contest ended at the Gazebo in the Courthouse Square in Owego, NY, followed by dinner and an overnight stay at the First Union Presbyterian Church, also in Owego.
The staff at Thunderbird Atlatl enjoyed the opportunity to help on this project and we look forward to airing of the show on Ithaca College Television in November. The show can also be downloaded from Ithaca College TV web page when it airs.