Posts Tagged ‘Spear’

A Quadruply Cool Trident.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

A while back I ran across some pics of a weapon I don’t see very often these days. A weapon that had it’s start in one of the most mundane of tasks. Spear fishing. A spear with three prongs, designed to improve a spear fishers chances of spearing a fish, with each prong barbed, in order to help prevent dinner from going free once impaled.

This weapon is almost certianly a greatly loved tool by spear fishermen, and a feared weapon by all fishdom 🙂 . However it seems that even humans found it more than just useful. Given the company it has keept through history, It must have been quite awe inspiring. I speak of course, of the Trident:

Shadow Strike Trident

Shadow Strike Trident

Clearly the photographer needed better lighting and a better backdrop to do this weapon justice, but I really like its design, so I thought I’d share the warm glow emitted by this beautiful facsimile of a great weapon. A weapon often depicted in the hands of mighty Roman Gladiators of old.

And as if being the favored weapon of a professional warrior wasn’t enough, the trident was a weapon of the Gods! It was, in fact, The Greek God Poseidons weapon of choice, as well as that of Neptune, the Roman God, and Shiva, the Hindu God. Great was the power of the trident!

Sadly, the picture is not particularly clear, and the place I originally found it no longer seems to have it. But from what I can see from the pic, it’s not hard to see why it was such a great weapon. From long black shaft, with a silver banded accents both at the pommel as well as half way up the grip, to the head of the weapon, it just screams for respect.

With the head of the trident, of course, demanding the most respect. From the ornate transition from black shaft, to the three, beautiful, double edged, barbed, spear headed prongs, it says nothing less than “I am trident. HEAR ME…” Roar? No.. Ping?  Naw… Clang…? Bah!

Ok, so I don’t know what sounds this trident would make. Perhaps a cool resonant metallic ring or something. But that’s besides the point. Or in this case, besides the three points. The point is that those three points always make an oftentimes barbed point to point out that they are pointy and are always quite pointed in thier passive declaration about how three points are better than a single point. (U C Whut I did thar? I just slay me… 🙂  he he he…  <crickets chirping> Ok, whatever…

Anyway, if you still don’t get the point, this particular trident has yet another trick up it’s long black sleeve. It actually has *4* points, and… a blade!  *gasp*! in addition to the three beautiful points at the head of the trident, this trident also comes apart in the middle of the shaft to reveal a hidden blade! This brings our point count to 4!

Ok, so I’m pushing the points a bit, and that whole “sword in a trident shaft” bit has to seriously weaken the shaft’s strength, but still, you can’t deny the coolness of this design. It is, by any measure, Fish, Men and/or Gods, an awesome weapon…

That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it…

Shadow Strike Trident – [Anime Castle]

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]

Elven swords and spears are just too cool…

Friday, May 29th, 2009

I recently ran across an interesting set of weapons, both from the movie “Hellboy II : The Golden Army”. Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Luke Goss. The original HellBoy movie had quite an array of interesting weapons and this latest incarnation is no exception. This time around, I’ll be talking about two weapons in particular, a spear and a sword, both the weapons of renegade elven Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss:

Prince Nuadas Weapons from the movie HellBoy II: The Golden Army

Prince Nuadas Weapons from the movie HellBoy II

If memory serves, both of these weapons were worn by Prince Nuada at various points in the movie. In the final challenge battle he gives the sword to Hellboy to challenge him with. Quite the honorable, if misguided fellow. Up until he tried to stab HellBoy in the back. Quite the angsty type. Though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand where his angst came from. But I’m rambling.

I found both weapons interesting for a several reasons. When I compared the design of each of the two weapons, I found their designs to be both conflicting and complementary. They both appear to display completely opposing levels of sophistication, and yet are furnished identically, almost as if designed by different people, then finished to match. In addition, each appears almost specifically designed to fulfill a role that the other cannot. I’ll start with the Sword:

Prince Nuadas Sword from the movie HellBoy II: The Golden Army

Prince Nuadas Sword from the movie HellBoy II

The sword is of an interesting, but rather limiting design. It is wide, heavy, of medium length, and has no point. Franky as Elven swords go, it is not of the characteristically edgy but beautiful design that elven swords are known for. It appears to be designed purely for cutting and cleaving, and possesses absolutely no thrusting capabilities whatsoever.

In fact, it almost appears to have none of the characteristics of traditional elven swords whatsoever, save for the hilt furniture. If I were to hazard a guess, I might speculate that the sword was not really of elven design, but may have been commissioned, only as an afterthought by the prince, to match the the spear, which was actually his favored weapon.

An interesting feature of the swords design, is that it carries a little notch at in the spine, just before the tip, (if you can even call it that). This notch could theoretically be used to capture and break other swords. It’s almost as though this sword was designed purely for very close quarters combat with other swords, and nothing else. As you will see, I think there is a purpose for that, which becomes a little more plausible once we’ve looked at Prince Nuada’s other weapon, (and probably his favorite) his elven spear:

Prince Nuadas Spear from the movie HellBoy II: The Golden Army

Prince Nuadas Spear from the movie HellBoy II

Now this spear, that is an elven weapon. So much more elegant than the sword. From the pommel to at least midway through the deceptively short shaft, it is identical to the sword, but from there on out it is a completely different story. Prince Nuada was perfectly capable of using the spear in it’s short form for melee combat, however its use would be restricted mainly to thrusts, with limited slashing capabilities provided by the relatively large (by spear head standards), but comparatively short (against a sword), broad and beautifully crafted spear head.

In the movie, the spear is imbued with eleven witchery and was capable of extending about 4 extra feet, to achieve the full spear length of around 6 feet. And what a beautiful 6 feet of black and gold elven rune etched spear they were!! We also see in the movie that the spear also has an auto-magically repairing tip. A very handy feature, especially given how beautiful that spear head is. No worrying about broken spear heads and all that.

Anyway, while the spear provided Prince Nuada with much greater reach, it would still have been limiting in close quarters battle, and against a skilled sword wielding opponents, using weapons whose entire edge could be used to inflict lethal cuts, he may have found it necessary to resort to using a sword. My hypothesis would be that, at this point there would be very few of the elven race left, and so the sword would have been forged by a non-elven smith, which would describe it’s crude nature.

Of course in reality, whoever designed these weapons may not have had anything of the sort in mind, but I thought those particular design choices were an interesting coincidence. Perhaps the sword was designed that way purely because the designer knew HellBoy would eventually be using it. In which case I’d say the design was spot on.

Anyway, I think that’ll be enough of me forging speculative logic for the design and function of fictional weapons for a fictional prince of a fictional race from a fantasy movie.

Oh, wait…

Actually this works. I am actually not real myself.

Never mind. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. 🙂

Prince Nuadas Sword – [True Swords]
Prince Nuadas Spear – [True Swords]

The Midnight Dragon Corps…

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

So a while back I ran across a rather interesting polearm:

Midnight Dragon Blade

Midnight Dragon Blade

[click to view full size]

Yes. The Midnight Dragon Blade. Dunno if it was intended for hunting dragons at midnight, or is the signature weapon of the secret sect called the Midnight Dragon Corps. Personally I’d much prefer the latter. anyway, I haven’t blogged about a polearm in a while, so when found this while looking through my archives, I thought it would make for an interesting post. Expecially since this is of a rather unusual design.

Like your average polearm, this one has a suitably lengthy shaft, in sweet blackness, tipped with a silver pommel cap sporting a design I had a hard time placing. On one hand it looks like a chain mail pattern covering some kind of flowerbud, and on the other, it could be scales on the outstretched talons of a dragon. Hm. My design-fu is weak today…

Either way, it thought it was cool. Three quarters of the way up the shaft we have a silver band, and just below the head, a dragon is depicted wrapped around the shaft, looking up towards the head. Now the head of this polearm is where it gets interesting.

The flat black head of this polearm is an eclectic collection of curves, arcs, and points, which I normally love to see, except in this case, there does not seem to be much purpose behind the arrangement. However, just for giggles, I’m going to try see if I can classify it based on it’s general features. 🙂

On one side we have what looks like the outstretched wing of a black dragon, which I thought looked very cool. It’s rearward orientation would suggest that this could be used in a bill hook fashion, however billhooks generally did not have an additional large blade on the opposite side as an accoutrement.

Opposite the wing hook we have a large beautiful crescent of black steel. Almost looks like an axe head, which would put it in Bardiche or pole cleaver category, except pole cleavers are usually single edged. Not to mention the little sub crescent in the top of the curve, besides being really annoying, really kills the axe head shape. Which is possibly why I find it annoying. But I digress.

There is also no real forward point to speak of, the top of the axe head curves too far in to make a good thrusting point, so this would probably be best used as a hacking, hooking or or cutting weapon. So we are left with the generic “random blade on a long stick” polearm, AKA – the Halberd.

Halberds perhaps come in the widest variety of blade shapes and sizes, but to be honest, they also generally all have a good useable thrusting point as well, which this doesn’t have. However, since there are versions of polearms with bill hooks on one side and large axe like blades on the other, I’m gonna stick with that, as two out of three isn’t bad.

Meh. Who am I kidding… This thing is unclassifiable. It’s a fantasy weapon. They threw me for a loop by omitting “fantasy” from the name, but the “Dragon” in the nomenclature should have given it away. You’d think i would have figured all this out by now. Live an learn I guess…

It’s still a cool looking polearm, though… 🙂

Midnight Dragon Blade – [King of Swords]

Fun With Damascus Steel

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Today, I have a special treat for you. You may or may not know this, since it does not come up particularly often, but one of my favorite blade materials is Damascus steel. For two reasons. First, barring unfinished or tarnished steels, it is one of the only true “dark” finished steels that I know of.

The next reason is that, even though I have a great love for all dark weapons, (to me they have more character than most) the truth is that, most dark weapons are not inherently dark, and require special finishes, most of which rarely do any more than provide an aesthetic touch to a blade.

Damascus steel on the other hand, has an inherent dark aesthetic beauty that requires no artificial colorings or preservatives. Ok, so maybe there are some forms of Damascus that have artificial colorings. Some shades of Damascus require chemical treatments or the usage of special alloys or metals to achieve the desired effect.

But in the grand scheme of things, these are no worse than the coatings used to enhance the appearance of monosteels. Nonetheless, it is still the only type of steel that I know of, whose aesthetics are also functional, and whose enhanced cutting power does not really require any special finishes / treatments / coatings. Damascus steel has an inherent beauty all it’s own.

But the cool thing is that, in the hands of true metalworking artists, using these various other methods, Damascus can be made into patterns and colors of amazing beauty. I was quite thrilled to find a site that featured such beautifully wrought Damascus blades, each one uniquely and excellently finished to a level of detail that, much like J. A. Harkins work, totally blew me away…

I present to you a taste of the blades of Kevin and Heather Harvey of Heavin Forge. First up:

<_>

The Zulu assegai – In Damascus

Zulu Assegai in Gaboon Viper Damascus

[view full size]

Now obviously, as one of my favorite African weapons, this Damascus Assegai caught my eye. Definitely a thing of beauty. Due in no small part to the very eye catching Gaboon Viper Damascus pattern on the blade:

Zulu Assegai – Close up of Blade

Zulu Assegai Blade Close Up

[view full size]

Now this is a very unique spear, first because of the shaft style, which appears to have been carved to appear like a dark horn grip at the bottom, and smooths out the rest of the way up. Very cool. And the head sports a cool damscus pattern they have appropriately called called “Gaboon Viper”, as it emulates the characteristic diamond pattern found on the back of the aforementioned reptile… I’ve got two words for the head on this spear: Absolutely Awesome…

<^>

Persian Fighting Blade!

Persian Fighting Blade

[view full size]

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, I needn’t explain to you why I like this blade… It’s all about the points and curves… (I’m sure you can figure it out… 🙂 ) And it doesn’t hurt that it has a Damascus blade. Which is actually appropriate since Damascus steel is reputed to have been developed in ye old Persia and was also called watered steel at the time. No surprise, as Damascus does look like Steel with waves in it…

<^>

Next we have a piece i like to think of as from the West. The Wild West. California gold rush and and all that jazz… It should be self explanatory why:

Gold Rush Bowie

Gold Rush Bowie

[view full size]

Yep, we have a bowie knife, perhaps almost the trademark of the wild west, (besides the ever ubiquitous revolver), in an amazing gold and almost cobalt blue Damascus hue… I’ve always like gold accents on black blades, but this just takes it to another level altogether…

Gold Rush Bowie – Close up of ricasso and top of hilt

Gold Rush Bowie - Ricasso and Hilt

[view full size]

There’s gold in that thar bowie!… I seen it with my own two eyes!!

<^>

Finally, but certainly not least, we find a weapon harking from the dark continent of Africa, an interesting little dagger that reminds me of an insect for some reason. A long wasp maybe? I dunno. But here is it, in all it’s insect like glory…

African Dagger

African Dagger

[view full size]

Now this particularly dark brand of Damascus is one of my favorites, perhaps the only true dark steel in existence. And this sample is particularly beautiful, complementing the overall theme of this dagger very well. Between the African styled hilt, and the really very cool horn sheath, it’s perhaps one of the most intriguing implementations of a Damascus dagger I’ve seen to date…

<^>

And that’s all I’ve got for today. You can see more of Kevin and Heathers’ work at Heavin Forge. Perhaps what really impressed me was not only the creative use of color in the steel, but also the overall attention to detail, fit and finish on every weapon. Absolutely beautiful. Make sure you swing by their page.

As much as they were all great works of art, after looking at them all, I discovered I had a favorite. Probably because I tend to gravitate towards more dark colors and organic shapes, I liked that last waspy dagger best. It just spoke to me. We had a grand old chat.

I think I’m gonna give it a name. I’m calling it the Black Stinger… Yeah… In fact I think i’m gonna have to make myself similar blade one of these days. It won’t be nearly as cool as this one, but If it has half the personality, I’ll be looking forward to quite a few great conversations with it…

P.S. I’d like to point out, for the record, that I am not insane. Just a *wee bit* loopy when it comes to certain blades… But I’m totally harmless, I assure you… No really… 😛

Kevin and Heathers Damascus Blades – [Heavin Forge]

Lost Password?

Please enter your username or e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.

Your Weapon Sir?
The Raiders Almanac
November 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  
Surf the Sands of Time:
Phyreblades Site of the Month!