An Atlatl is a weapon used to launch a dart (aka spear) with more accuracy, faster speed, and greater distance than with just your hand and arm. It has no fancy shmancy moving parts like a sling-shot or bow and arrow yet it still is a powerful weapon that is capable of a lot of damage (I've already put three holes in my house. Oops!). While I am not a historian, nor am I a hobby dude that spends his life making these, I was successfully able to make a version that looks okay and works very good. There is a lot of room for customization so please feel free to post your final product as it would be cool to see what other people did with this. Have a great time making it (by the way, I am not responsible for any injuries that occur throughout this process.)
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Stuff You Need
This really requires not much besides a good eye for finding perfectly shaped branches for the actual atlatl (perfect being about a foot and a half in length, relatively straight, nice handle on one side and a hook on another). Also don't feel constricted by these guidelines, I have seen atlatl's made from paint stirry thingys.
-A tree (or a branch shaped like the one in the picture)
-Some dowels (These are your darts) (as long as possible, and not too thin but not too thick. remember you want this thing to FLY)
- Some duct-tape (wouldn't be an instructable without it!)
-Paracord (another thing needed for every instructable)
-Nails(if you want your arrow to have a spike)
-And whatever else that floats your boat
Image is from http://www.kshs.org/teachers/trunks/graphics/atlatl.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anth160
Step 2: Atlatl How-to
First things first, you can't use your darts if you don't have the atlatl. So leave your computer, go outside, and find a tree that has many branches low to the ground. After locating a branch that might be the "one" cut it off with your saw with plenty of room (you can take away but you can't put back). I recommend having a couple of candidates to choose from. Remember, about a foot and a half long, handle, and hook. After finding your pieces, remove the bark on your top choice (the "one") if you want it to look barkless. Sand it down and make the hook have a finer point so you will be able to knock your spear onto it. You can make a paracord handle if you feel it needs it.
-A hardwood like oak looks great and works great
-Don't take to much away
-Be patient when searching for the perfect atlatl branch with so many options there is always a perfect one
Step 3: The Spears
So these sort of look like something made in a second grade history class, but they fly great. Make sure they are top heavy (meaning they pointy side is the heavy side). This way they will be way more controllable. So take a dowel, drill a hole in the end of one side to be able to knock your spear onto your atlatl. Then with a knife sharpen the other side. This is where the duct tape comes in handy. Tape some on the end of the dart to act as a feather type object (I don't know the name) and then add some on the front to act as a weight. This is where you can add the nails (Be careful!).
Step 4: Finished
Because this is my first completed instructable, I would like some feedback on how I did. Also, if you actually made them it would be awesome to see a picture! Have fun!