The atlatl is a rod about two feet long, with a handgrip at one end and a hook or projection at the other end. The projection is a point that fits into a socket at the feathered end of a four to six foot long dart. The dart is held by the tips of the fingers at the handgrip. It is then launched through a sweeping arm and wrist motion.
(drawing by Jon Gibson)
Atlatls were probably in use as early as 10,000BC and were replaced by the bow around 700AD.
The photos of atlatls on this site are from the the collection of Lloyd Pine. In 1995 he developed the International Standard Accuracy Contest for the atlatl. This contest enables throwers from all over the world to compete equally due to the specific set of contest rules, safety rules, the special target set in ranges of 15 and 20 meters and an official score sheet. Five throws are required at each of the ranges.
An excellent website explaining this tool is: http://www.atlatl.com
Photos of an atlatl constructed from cane available in region
Selections from collection