Posts Tagged ‘Arrow’

An Evil Reptilian Bow…

Monday, September 28th, 2009

It’s been a while since I posted about any projectile weapons, so when I saw this, I thought: “Well it’s was about time!”. Allow me to present… The Deathstrike bow!

Deathstrike Medieval Bow

Deathstrike Medieval Bow

A rather ornate, interesting design, no? Now this is a bow that likes attention! This design appears to be a variation of the traditional asiatic composite bow, a form of recurve bow. When strung, the limbs curve away from the shooter towards the ends, and then back towards the shooter closer to the grip, often called the reflex-deflex design.

When traditionally made, this design is very powerful, as the more reflex (or is it deflex?) you can build into the limbs, the more energy they can store, compared to a straight bow, for a given length of limb. Most folks may be familiar with the design from Mongolian lore, as they feature prominently in movies and history books, but the design was used by many other well known cultures, such as the Chinese, the Huns, Greeks, and the Turks.

Of the lot, my personal favorite composite bow design, at least where aesthetics are concerned, comes from one of the not so well known cultures; the Scythians. But this is a topic I will have to treat in another post.

Today, however we have a replica of the venerable recurve composite bow, with a unique twist. This bow is made of a single piece of wood, as opposed to the multiple layers of wood, horn and sinew that a traditional composite bow, so it will be no where near as powerful, and probably not last very long if you tried to use it. But it certainly looks… homicidal. Methinks, especially if you break it while it’s strung 🙂 Yeah. My advice? Don’t do that. With ANY bow.  But I digress.

This bow, unlike most others, has talons… yes, talons protruding from the back of the bow, which has then been covered in skin from some poor exotic reptile who was just minding it’s own  business when some heartless loon decided it’s back would look better on a poor replica of a compound bow. Such is life. Oh, and did I mention that it comes with 3 similarly finished arrows?

GASP Wow! a whole THREE ARROWS!!. I could kill an ARMY of trolls with those three arrows…! What do they expect me to do with three arrows eh? Shoot them, then run into the battlefield and retrieve them from the bodies of my victims, then run back out and shoot them again? lol… I might as well run into battle with a hearty battle cry, an arrow in each hand, and one between my teeth, and just stab peeps with the arrows as I run by… ROFLMAO…

OK, ok, I kid, I kid… 😛 the arrows are obviously just accessories. I still just found it a little humorous. I mean look at the name. The DeathStrike bow! Just a wee bit over the top, no? Like you could annihilate an army of Orcs with it. But then they give you only 3 arrows…OK… I admit I am waay too easily amused… Just ignore me. 🙂

Anyway, not to disparage this fine weapon, but to me, besides the fact that I cannot think of any practical advantage those talons might impart to the smooth operation of the bow itself, (besides making it look mean), I think this is a bow might just want to be something else. A lizard maybe? Perhaps a gecko? Not that it matters, it wasn’t really designed for daily use anyway.

Either way, reptilian bows are a cool idea. I’d like to see one made that would actually be fully functional. With perhaps with just a single talon at each end for stringing. In black of course. Yeah.

Deathstrike Medieval Bow – [NorthStar Collectibles]

Atlatls and Spear Chuckers and Bows, Oh My…

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

As requested, (CapnPervy, this one’s for you… 🙂 ) today I’m going to talk a little about a very old and not so well known projectile weapon called the Atlatl. Yes, A-T-L-A-T-L. No, it’s not a slang name for a happenin’ town in the stated of Georgia, in the good ‘ol  U. S. of A. Nor is it a giant, four legged, imperial armored transport from Star Wars. Nope. It’s actually a really cool weapon that just happens to have a funny name:

An Atlatl

An Atlatl

This here weapon is called an “at-lattle”. Or something like that. Yes, I know that’s not how to write phoenetic pronunciation… Eh? Look gimme a break here, I’m a Balrog, not an English teacher. Just for that smart alecky comment, I’ve decided to drown you in technical atlatl minutae. Yes… What?

Ok, yes, you’re right, that’s a baldfaced lie, I was gonna drown you in atlatl trivia regardless. What can I say. I tend to get long winded when I am talking about things that i find interesting, so I need every excuse I can get to justify my rambling. Just humor me, OK? It’ll be fun. Really. Go grab a cup of coffee, tea, whatever your slow poison of choice is, and get comfortable…  Mua ha ha ha ha ha ha… *wheeze*… heh…. Here we go…

More Atlatl Information

More Atlatl Information

An atlatl is essentially just a stick, usually around 2′ in length, with a peg, or pin at the rear end, sometimes set in a pocket, designed to hold and cast darts that can be anywhere from 4′ to 6′ in length. Some modern atlatls are also made with dart rests, integrated finger slots, unique grip designs and so on, like the ones below, however these are all contemporary designs that did not exist in traditional atlatl.

Atlatls with a dart rests

Atlatls with a dart rests

A custom atlatl with dart rest - showing unique grip style

A custom atlatl with dart rest - showing unique grip style

The atlatl is sometimes called a spear chucker, however I don’t think this is technically accurate, since, as far as I can tell, Atlatls do not actually cast spears. Almost every atlatl projectile I have seen are technically darts, or over sized arrows. And while it may seem like an inconsequential detail, there’s actually one very important difference  between a dart and a spear. Yes. Seriously. And if you just hold your horses for one second I’ll tell you what the difference is. Yes. Thank you. Let’s continue.

Preparing to throw an atlatl.

Preparing to throw an atlatl.

What really sets a spear apart from an arrow or dart is that a spear has no tail fletching or fins. All arrows and darts have fins/vanes/fletching to aid in aerial stabilization. Spears do not. This is why an atlatl is technically not a spear chucker. In fact, spears have more in common with crossbow bolts than either arrows or darts, as bolts are also generally stiffer than arrows. But I digress, as usual.

An Atlatl Dart

An Atlatl Dart

Many traditional atlatl darts also had a very unique point feature. unlike arrow tips that were usually permanently tied in place, atlatl tips were removable. The employed an interesting double socket design, with the hard atlatl tip attached to a secondary wood atlatl tip dowel, (sometimes called a foreshaft) using a tongue and groove design. The tip assembly was then mated to the atlatl dart by hollowing out the front of the dart, wrapping it with cord, and press fitting the foreshaft and tip assembly in place like a plug. Rather ingenious.

Atlatl Dart Tip Design - Double Slot

Atlatl Dart Tip Design - Double Slot

Atlatl Tip Design - Fully Assembled

Atlatl Tip Design - Fully Assembled

Alternate Atlatl Tip Designs

Alternate Atlatl Tip Designs

An atlatl can be used to cast a dart much farther than it could be thrown by hand. Some have finger straps, slots or voids in/on the grip to aid in retention, and many others have stone weights attached, about which there is a lot of debate. More on that later.

Parts of an atlatl

Parts of an atlatl

The atlatl works by extending the effective range of motion of your arm, from the wrist joint outwards. This allows you to use a much larger throwing arc than you would have been able to using your arm and hand alone, and you are able to impart much more energy to the projectile as a result. FORE!!

Using an Atlatl

Using an Atlatl

As I mentioned earlier, the atlatl and dart has a lot in common with the bow and arrow. However the similarities do not end with the fletching of the dart. An interesting property of properly constructed atlatl darts, are that they are designed to flex, and can be tuned, much like an arrow, for specific amounts of spine (flex) during launch, so that they straighten just before the socket leaves the peg, thus transferring all of that stored energy to driving the point towards the target

Atlatl Dart Flex

Atlatl Dart Flex

I also mentioned before that many traditional atlatl designs have weights attached to them. The purpose of these weights is a point of great contention. Many historians claim they are purely cosmetic, or religious/ritualistic in nature. However there are also those who argue that they are there to aid in the tuning of the atlatl.

Atlatl Weights

Atlatl Weights

The idea being that traditional weighted atlatls are designed to flex a little during launch, much like a bow, and that the weights are there to help fine tune the amount of flex and when return occurs. theoretically this would mean that one could tune both the Atlatl and the dart to flex, and release their energy at exactly the same time, in order to maximize the amount of stored energy that gets transferred to the dart, propelling it downrange.

Atlatl Flex

Atlatl Flex

I am personally inclined to believe that these weights do serve to help fine tune the atlatl for better throws, and this has been verified by actual atlatl record holders, however exactly what they are doing has not been definitively proven. However there is a lot of good information about them from veteran atlatl expert William Robert Perkins (aka “Atlatl Bob”), who was able to show scientifically, that these weights did in fact affect the balance, noise levels, and flexion characteristics of the atlatl.

Atlatl with stealth weight

Atlatl with stealth (aka Banner Stone) weight

Atlatl stealth weight noise levels comparison

Atlatl stealth weight noise levels comparison

Science applied towards the analysis and improvement of medieval weaponry. My kind of weapons expert. 🙂

Some Beautiful Contemporary Atlatls - Richard Lyons

Some Beautiful Contemporary Atlatls - Richard Lyons

The atlatl is just an absolutely fascinating weapon. So elegant and simple, and yet, as we’ve seen, there are so many complex facets to it’s operation. Amazing really. Quite an interesting read if you’re a weapons nerd like me. Otherwise you are probably nodding off about now. Which is OK because I’m pretty much done with the atlatl waterboarding session.

More Beautiful Contemporary Atlatls - The Takoch's

More Beautiful Contemporary Atlatls - The Takoch's

I’ve included some links below for those of you who have not yet drowned in my deluge of atlatl info. Sorry, there are no life rafts or flotation devices aboard this vessel. You will just have to swim for it.

Cheerio!

Atlatls n More
List of atlatl manufacturers – [Flight Toys]
Atlatl Design – [World Atlatl Association]
Atlatl weight and function – [BPS Engineering]
Tools of the Stone Age – Atlatls – [Dons Maps]
Walnut and Rosewood Atlatls – [Ray’s Atlatls and Darts]

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