Making a Bola

About: I like mycology, primitive technology and primitive, survival, edible and medicinal plants, primitive fire starting, snares, traps, making twine flintknapping and other things that I can't remember right now...

The bola (Spanish for ball) is a throwing weapon that generally consists of three weights on the end of three ropes (that's a good one on one correspondence example for all you people taking pre-algebra). The purpose of the bola is designed to rap around the animals legs and make them trip and fall, this weapon is most famous in Argentina. To make the bola wrap around the animals legs better, one of the weights is smaller and/or lighter.

Many of you have probable seen the move 'Kangaroo Jack' were they try to catch the kangaroo using bolas. If you're like me you would have been amazed and thought about how you could make one.

In this instructable, I will show you how to make a monkey's fist bola.

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Step 1: Tying the Knot

Due to the marriage protection act you can only tie knots with the opposite sex, but monkeys fists (except in a few very rare cases) naturally have no gender, so everything works out......

Now that your all hiped up saying " I'm gona make a bola!" I'll have to break it to you, this bola requires a bit of skill in knot tying. This is because monkey's fist bolas, well.....require monkey's fists!

To make the monkey's fists you need rope, I recommend using about 3/8" rope, and having about 25 feet for this project. One of the annoying things that can happen when you are making a monkey's fist, is when you are about to finish, when you run out of rope. When you tighten the monkey's fist, it goes to the end of the rope, so it's not a problem if the untightened monkey's fist is not on the tip of the rope. I used sisal rope because I like the natural look and feel. You will also need three weights, If you want to be primitive, you can use two golf ball sized stones, and one smaller and/or lighter weight stone. I live in Florida, the land with no rocks, so I used golf balls. I used two golf balls of the same weight, and one lighter weight, practice golf ball.

I will separate the steps in making a monkey's fist into different step sections for better clarity.

1.1 Wrap the rope around your fingers (see picture) I am right handed, so I am wrapping with my right hand.

Step 2: Tying the Knots 1.2

1.2 After you wrapped the rope so that there are five (Please ignore that the second picture has only four rings, I'm an idiot like that sometimes!) "rings" of rope, wrap once around your ring finger.

Step 3: Tying the Knot 1.3

1.3 After you have wrapped the rope around your ring finger, wrap the rope around the previous wraps (see pictures) repeat this until you have five rings there also. But wait! When you get two or three wraps, insert the weight.

Step 4: Tying the Knot 1.4

1.4 After you insert the weight, continue to wrap the rope like step 1.3 described. (Admire mushroom)

Step 5: Tying the Knot 1.5

1.5 After you have wrapped the rope like the previous steps described start wrapping in the third direction (see pictures). The third direction should be around the ball in the direction that you haven't wrapped around before, you might want to think of the three directions as x, y, and z.

Step 6: Tying the Knot 1.6

1.6 After you have wrapped in the third direction the right number of times, tuck the tip of the rope under the other section that runs over the current section, this is the section that you would wrap under if you were going to wrap more. (see picture)

Step 7: Tying the Knot 1.7

1.7 Now that you have tucked the tip under the perpendicular section, press down on it with you thumb. Then begin tightening. To tighten, pull on the loose areas and thread through the knot, this should form a loop.

Step 8: Tying the Knot 1.8

1.10 Now after you have made the monkey's fist cut it to the right length. I figured that different sized people would need different sized bola ropes, so I cut the rope (with the monkey's fist on it) to be from my hand to the middle of my chest, after I tied all of the ropes together, this shortened it to my shoulder, this seamed a reasonable length.

Step 9: Tying the Knot 1.9

1.11 Make two more bola weights like the one you just made.

Now that your hands are nice and tired, lets move on to the next step.

Step 10: Tying the Weights Together

Now for the easiest step. Tie all of the weights together by their ropes. Do this by using an overhand knot. Make sure it's tight, or the bola weights might separate from each other and hurt your friends when you showing of you mad skills.

Step 11: Using the Bola

Now that you have an awesome bola it's time to use it. Unlike in the movie "Kangaroo Jack" where as far as I can remember they held it by the the central knot. With this bola you hold it by one of the monkeys fists (I like to hold it by the lightweight fist). Then swing it over your head and let go at the right time during the rotation to hit your target. It takes a bit of practice but after a while (I didn't say a short one) you might get to be as good as the Argentinians (that's meant to be optimistic).

Also, the weights can be made from tennis balls, then you can throw them at you friends.

Good luck! I am a beginner so suggestions are welcome.

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    43 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    ps I meant "after tying the three arms together", not "after tying the monkeys fists". Sorry.


    Question 1 year ago on Step 10

    I have a couple of questions:

    1: how much did your lighter ball weigh? I don't play golf, so how much did a proper ball weigh, please? if I know both weights I can work out what ratio to use.

    2: how long are the bold arms after tying? Is there any ratio between this length and the length of one's arm?



    4 years ago on Step 8

    These work really well. I made one as a child of maybe 8 or 10 after reading a book on Argentina. Made my younger brother run across the yard, and took him down like a redwood tree! He wouldn't let me try it again, unfortunately.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Instructable, mate. As a side note, I'm from Argentina, and I'd never heard about boleadoras being used by our ancestors. I'm actually pretty sure that the gauchos used swords, and, when they became available, guns. By the way, this thing is quite fun, especially when thrown at bothersome dogs :)

    4 replies

    My Grandfather used/made them in Portugal, Shiraz. Could that be where he got his incorrect info from? He used it from everything from Working Cattle, to Hunting, to deal with obstinate kids.... lol


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I was born in Entre Ríos, Dpto Tala. I grew up in the field, and I remember when doing the tasks of preparing the field, they found usually stone balls that were slightly flattened, grooved in its equator. That is a clear sign that had been used in boleadoras (rounders). In the field of my father was the Battle of Las Guachas, 13 jun 1820, where they fought Pancho Ramirez and Jose G. Artigas.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I am form a Argentina too, i sugest you study your history. Native argentinaeans use boleadoras to hunt and inmovilize animals, then the gauchos use them too.


    5 years ago

    the two shorter string weights need to be heavier because these are the weight and force necessary for impact, the longer string must be lighter because it is the tail in flight, acting like a guide, and upon impact, will wrap around the targets legs and body.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am definitely going to do this, but, due to laziness, I am simply going to drill holes through the golf balls to secure the cord, and use paracord. This makes the whole thing smoother, which, in theory, makes it go farther.

    I made something quite like this a while ago, and it was fun, until it went wild and dented my fence. These things can fly a bit oddly until you get the hang of it. I recommend spinning it only once prior to throwing, not multiple times. This makes it more accurate, and the extra spinning grants no extra power.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I made one of these with a couple segments of rope and three tennis balls. I never got enough practice to be all that good with it. I tried using it on a friend of mine and the ball just whacked him in a back. I later dismantled it and made a toy vaguely similar to an Astrojax to practice double glowsticking.

    3 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Look up glowstringing on youtube and imagine having both sticks on one string.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    hey its wal11 thanks for telling me what double glowstringing is and sorry i hadn't checked my email in a while


    8 years ago on Introduction

    It would be good for practice,I made a set a couple years ago and knocked the hell outa myself a few time learning to throw.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I just made one, and and six tries later, I successfully roped the flag pole in my yard! These are awesome! But, unfortunately, I only had enough rope to do three wraps, so the golf balls show a lot. But it still works fine!


    9 years ago on Step 11

    Most creative and economic way to make them, wouldnt think of monkeyfists by my self.
    Way to go.