One Hour Atlatl





Introduction: One Hour Atlatl

One Hour Atlatl.

This is old before I discovered instructables, we went to the Pequot Indian Museum in CT with the scouts and I saw one of these in the museum. We even got to use one, and figured I could make that. On that trip I made a tee-pee and at camp and 3 scouts slept in it (14 ft poles, 10 ft diameter). I am going back with a new group of scouts (this is about 4 years ago) and will try to document the Tee-pee.

For those who don’t know ‘ is feet ‘’ is inches.


2’ of a broken broomstick or 1inch dowel
2-3‘ of  ¼ or 3/8 inch clothes line.
3’ of twine.
2 ¼ ‘ ‘   ¼’’ dowel (scrap)
Wood glue.

4’ fiberglass winter driveway marker (it was cheaper than a 4 ft dowel).
Craft Foam.
Hot glue

Hand Saw
Sand Paper
1/16 ¼  inch drill bits

Step 1: Atlatl Build

Cut the broomstick to length, drill a ¼ ‘ drill bit drill a ¾ inch depth hole at 45 degree angle about 1’’ from the end of the broomstick.. Take the  ¼’’ dowel  coat the end of the dowel with wood glue and put it into the hole as far as it will go, about 1 ½ ‘’ should be protruding. Use a knife to round the end slightly, use sand paper to finish it.

Finishing the Atlatl take the twine ant tie a clove hitch about ½’’ from where the dowel meets the broomstick towards the end.. Loop the long end around the shaft and up the dowel about ½ way up keeping it tight finish it off by wrapping it again around the broomstick ending in another clove hitch.

Take some wood glue and smother the twine, set it aside to let it dry/cure.

Once dry take the rope and tie a clove hitch such that the knot is in the center of the rope about 6’’ from the hand end. Make a 6-7’’ loop using a square knot, this will go over your wrist to make sure you don’t throw the Atlatl with the dart.

Step 2: Dart Build:

Drill a small hole in the center of the flat end of the driveway marker (1/16 drill bit) about ¼’’ deep. This is your pilot hole fir the ¼’’ bit to follow, use the 1/4’’ bit to form a concave place for the dowel to fit into.

Cut 3 2’’ x 5 ‘’  pieces of craft foam , cut the ends at a 20 degree angle to form the feathers. Using a glue gun adhere the feathers about 3 ½’’ from the end of the dart, at equal spacing using plenty of glue.

On the front page is one I made with a dowel, and the end of an old cheap flag , this one has less bend and goes further.

Step 3: Testing:

See pictures for grip and throw. The throwing pictures are my son, they are old he is now 17 and 6’ 195lbs and can carry me around the yard like a football.

From the pictures you can see the fiberglass dart bend, as it flies it wavers back and forth. Some people have claimed that the dart springs off the end of the Atlatl that is false , the energy stored in the arrow bending does not contribute in any way. Hey it looks cool though when you toss it. 

We went up to the high school and we could easily toss darts 50 yards.

This is just a quickie pulling some old photos together hope you like it. 



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    27 Discussions

    Do you think bamboo could be used for the projectile and or the throwing stick? I have a pretty good stand of bamboo from about 3/8" to 1" diameter.

    5 replies

    I was a child in Africa and the dart was made of bamboo and where the 'rib' is close to the flight you take a length of string tie a large knot in the end then wrap the string around the rib around knot and hold the string taut over the knot down to the dart tip and lengthen your arm behind you and sling the arrow over your head to your can travel over 100 feet. The string releases once it passes over your head because it slackens off and the string falls down.

    so your knot and wrap would be close to where the fletching would be? and it is launched kind of like a top?

    I used to use bamboo canes years ago, with folded paper flights bound into slots cut in the end.

    It should work, though the wind may catch it. Cut the dart close to a "rib" or whatever they call it, this will make a place for the atlatl point to fit in. In bamboo these ribs are concave and should fit nicely.

    You should make video of it launching

    Kids fun things for the summer. Be sure to take note and tell children how to make this dart.

    Be careful with this. I grew up when Lawn Darts were a thing, and I think I still have a few squirrelled away somewhere.

    There is a reason they don't make them any more.

    9 replies

    I thought they were made illegal? Was that to sell or use? Ah, I looked it up. SALE is banned in the US and Canada.

    My warning was strictly physical.

    In the US doing most dangerous things is legal, as long as you're only endangering yourself. As it should be. We tend to assume this is also the case everywhere.

    The reason that they are no longer made, is that some careless and unlucky people ended up with Lawn Darts sprouting from various bodily locations, like their heads!

    Here is a short report by the US National Institutes of Health about it:

    Besides, I think this would not legally qualify as a Lawn Dart. Probably a type of spear or javelin. The main difference being that no one is selling those as an outdoor game for parties etc.

    its not a lawn dart, its actually just like an ancient hunting tool like the bow and arrow but usually used longer arrows and took lots of skill to use correctly

    All the more reason to use it with care, and not use it as a toy.

    With practice, and with what was actually a copper grounding rod, I was able to penetrate half-way through a telephone pole and a steel door.

    Shocked the heck out of me. And that was just launching it off of my finger (you could tell if it would work during the throw, you could feel how the rod was an extension of your arm and finger). No tools necessary.

    My brother-in-law is the keeper of the family law darts, my mother-in-law (RIP) loved this game and acted like the NRA when someone told her they were illegal.

    I will publish a DIY for this in the near future, I already figured it out and it won't involve any welding and I will try to keep the tools to a minimum.

    I hope they don't find out about my Pneumatic, Hairspray (stopped using it due to you cannot control the air/fuel mixture) or Carbide cannons!

    Look in the back of any Boy's Life from the 60s and you will know why it was better to be a kid back then you could buy things that you cannot buy today (no parental approval needed): Carbide Cannons, BB Guns, Sling Shots, Smoke Bombs, Alligators and even a live Monkey (for ~$17).

    You are so right (and making me very nostalgic to boot) though I grew up with Boy's Life in the 50's. Was it Boy's Life or Popular Science that ran the how-to article on carbide cannons? Not only did I build one, I was able to have a can of calcium carbide shipped to me, a 17-year-old, no questions asked! The can must've weighed about 2 pounds and could've generated enough acetylene to blow the roof off my Dad's garage where I'd hidden it!

    it probably was better back then, maybe that's why almost all children today are so stupid they don't have access to all the cool stuff ,a new era

    I made some Japanese-style stilts a while ago and used the wood-glue over twine trick. Unfortunately, eventually the glued twine became became brittle and the twine would just crumble. This happened very fast (less than half a year) when the stilts were stored outdoors and exposed to UV (i.e., sunlight), but I think I may have had a failure before when they were stored in the garage, too.

    One option be to try using Shoe Goo instead of wood glue.

    By the way, apparently bamboo garden stakes make great darts.

    I do remember something about the dart needing to be flexible, but I cna't remember why. It might have been something to do with accuracy, much like the "spine" of an arrow