The Backwoods Hunting Weapon You Can Make In 1 Hour (No, It’s Not A Bow)

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The Backwoods Hunting Weapon You Can Make In 1 Hour (No, It’s Not A Bow)

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When suddenly confronted with a wilderness survival situation, finding or building shelter from the elements should be your first priority. However, once you have either located or constructed suitable shelter and found a source of fresh water, obtaining enough food to maintain your heath is of paramount importance — and obtaining sufficient protein is essential. Thus, knowing how to construct and use primitive hunting tools, such as a sling or an atlatl and darts, is extremely beneficial, since they require very little construction time and can be easily made from the materials at hand.

Many if not most survivalists would say a self-bow — any simple bow made from a single piece of wood – should be constructed first. But this requires a significant amount of time to make, because you first have to find a straight sapling of an appropriate species and cut it down, and then you have to remove the bark and wait for the wood to dry before carving it to shape. Also, there is the issue of finding appropriate material from which to construct a bow string that does not stretch.

Consequently, constructing an atlatl (a “spear thrower”) and darts is often a far better strategy, because an atlatl can be built with as little as an hour’s work, and atlatl darts need not be nearly as sophisticated as arrows for a bow; atlatl darts are not subjected to the same stresses that firing an arrow from a bow produces. This is the weapon used by our ancestors to kill small animals, long before there were bows.

Let’s Get Started

In order to make an atlatl, start by finding a straight sapling, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter and preferably one that is of a very lightweight species of wood, such as poplar. Cut a section from it, approximately 24-28 inches in length. Use your camp knife and a baton to split the sapling down the middle, into two halves. You will need to choose the thicker of the two halves and proceed to use your bushcraft knife to flatten and smooth the split surface while leaving the other side half-round. Next, find an appropriate tree limb with a symmetrical fork, and then cut the fork from the limb, leaving approximately two inches below the fork and then cut each fork to a length of approximately one inch. Then cut a peg, approximately two inches in length.

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Next, drill one hole in the end of the flattened section of sapling using an auger or bow drill with sand for an abrasive and, once the hole is drilled, insert the peg firmly into the hole so that it extends approximately one inch above the flattened surface. Carve a handle on the other end of the sapling section by first rounding the edges and then carving shallow groves in either side for your index finger and thumb to help you retain your grasp on the atlatl when using it to launch a dart. Once you have the grip and finger grooves carved, drill a second hole in the flattened side, approximately one inch above the point where your thumb and index fingers meet when grasping the handle section of the atlatl, and then firmly insert the fork into that hole and you will have a completed (although very primitive), fully functional, atlatl.

Ultimate Tactical Self-Defense And Hunting Weapon That Doesn’t Require A Firearms License!

Now you need to make atlatl darts. They can be made as simple as cutting a reasonably straight section of sapling to approximately 36 inches in length, removing the bark, sharpening one end, and then cutting a nock in the other end that will mate with the peg on your atlatl. Then, to launch your dart at a prospective target, all you have to do is place the dart’s nock against the atlatl’s peg and then lay the shaft into the fork and hold it in place by positioning your thumb and index fingers over the dart’s shaft. Raise the atlatl over your shoulder, point the dart at your intended target, and then move the atlatl forward in an arc while releasing the dart’s shaft from your fingers. This will cause the dart to launch with great speed and momentum. If you’re confused, then watch the video below.

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With more time to work with, you can make much finer atlatl darts by cutting an appropriate sized sapling to length, removing the bark, and then straightening the shaft by suspending the dart over a fire for a short period in order to cause the moisture contained within the wood to heat. Also, you can harden the tip of the shaft by placing it in the coals of a fire for a short period and removing it. Then, sharpen it with your bushcraft knife.

So, although an atlatl and darts may not be as sophisticated a hunting tool as a bow, it requires significantly less time and effort to make it – and yet is every bit as effective at harvesting both small and large game animals. The range over which they can be cast is mainly dependent on the strength of the hunter, but the average person can easily cast a dart 50 yards using an atlatl and, with a little more effort, 100 yards.

What advice would you add on making an atlatl and darts? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Run Out Of Ammo, What Would You Do? Learn How To Make Your Own! Read More Here.

Wilderness Survival Part 2/4

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Video By T Jack Survival
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Transcription provided by American Preppers Network

Number of speakers: 3 (Heath, Tyler & Kirsten )
Duration:  11 mins 26 sec

Wilderness Survival Skills Pt 2/4: Flint Knapping & Atlatl

Heath:” Hi, my name is Heath and today I am going to be giving a short demonstration on flint knapping. Basically taking hammer stone and striking them against some obsidian, or some other type of crypto crystal and quartz like jasper. Hopefully making a blade of some sort. A tool that we can use to make some other piece of equipment we might use in the field.”

“People have been flint knapping ever since there were people. Just about everything that our natives used to survive with had to do with sharp rocks needed to make for hunting food, make tools for farming, for skinning animals, to processing meat, to making cordage, to making fire sets, to making back packs to making t-pees. Everything they did had to do with how much of this sharp rock was in their area.”

“Flint knapping was something that man has done for a long, long time. Basically you take a round stone that fits in your hand really well. You strike it against a bigger piece of obsidian like this here. Trying to knock of edges, flakes to shape into simple tools like a knife or arrow head.”

“They also use animal hides as safety equipment. I wouldn’t want to just put this thing on my leg and start banging on it because it could cut me and could still cut me. This stuff is really, really sharp. It is just like glass. It basically is natural glass.”

“So what I am looking for is a platform. A platform is two faces of the rock that make less than 90 degrees. So either 90 degrees of less. So I see an angle that is less than 90 degrees and there is a flat top on the rock I call that a platform.”

“So what we’re doing is not just banging on the rock. There is actually a lot going on here. A lot of hand eye coordination is involved, the speed of the hit, how far back you hit, how hard you hit. One thing I like to show people that are learning is to try on your hand first. Just getting the feel where my arm is in relation to where my hand is and the rock in my hand. I am just hitting the edge of my hand. I’m trying to keep my upper arm in the same spot and using my lower arm like a pendulum. Letting the rock fall, letting gravity do most of the work. But this is just letting my hand guide that rock into the right spot. This is the big challenge for me and any flint knapper is making those really, really nice flakes. Which comes from really, really nice swing consistent swings, hitting the spot you want to hit and getting the result that you want to get.”

“Shattered it. Would have been a pretty good one but it broke into a bunch of little bitty pieces. That’s breaking rock. It doesn’t always go as planned but the key is to get at least something out of the chunk of rock.”

“Alright, just a while ago I had it down to a flake about this big around and sort of an oblong round shape. I just sort of started shaping it with pressure flaking which is basically just putting the projectile point on top of your hand with a leather pad. Finding the little high points and just lightly, with not very much force at all, taking off little bitty flakes to fine tune this edge.”


“There are a couple of thick spots earlier on that had to remove, that I actually had to go back to some percussion stuff. Back and forth and I was knocking off larger flakes like this size right here. The shape I want is basically sort of a tear drop or sort of a triangular shape. Very thin at the bottom on the corners and what that allows you to do is put notches in there for hatching on an arrow shaft. Just have to cut more of a grind in the arrow shaft. Extend that further up and just latch it down with some sinew. Then you will have fletching made for turkey feathers. This is just to give you an idea of what an arrow head is used for. “



Kirsten: “We’re gonna look at some Atlatls and some darts. The Atlatl so far as Ive been able to tell is the oldest hunting tool used on all continents and pre dates the bow and arroe. Basically what it is is a leverage device where a spur fits into the knock of my 6ish ft dart. As it leaves it adds extra power and force so I have some blanks for us, I have some turkey feathers and we’re gonna go harvest a quicky atlatl and make this using the awesome bark river go locks knife. In general the atlatl in length should be about from your arm pit to a little past your wrist. The biggest deal is also that you want the bottom of it to end where it is comfortable in your palm. If it gets to low it gets caught on my wrist.”

“So we’re gonna go grab some willow by the creek but instead we came across this beautiful service berry tree. A great wood to make arrows and darts out of when you can find straight limbs but we found something that will work well for a quickie atlatl. I am gonna go ahead and harvest it.”

“The field expedient version this can be done in a matter of minutes. All I went ahead and did is billowed it out at a 45 degree angle and cut about a third of a way into the wood. Then very carefully without wrecking this sharp tip right here, the knock and the spur fit together that way so you don’t want to wreck that tip.”

“One difference you’ll note between these two is this one actually has a bit of a dip where as this one is flat. It is a faster load of my dart to have that extra bit taken out. This one I have to fidget around a bit to actually get it to lock in. So it is mostly a timing thing.”

“Other things to note are sometimes you’ll see bone or different type of stone attachment for your spurs and they can come out at different angles.”

“Alright, atlatl is done.”

Tyler: “Now I just need a rabbit.”

Kirsten: “Let’s make a dart.”


“So Tyler is gonna go ahead and make a 2 feather fletch on the top of his dart. One thing to know when making an atlatl dart is actually the fat end is the point that is going into the animal you’re hunting whereas the skinny end is where we are gonna put the atlatl attachment.”

“The first thing we are gonna do is find 2 feathers that are of the same wing. In other words they both have their mass and curve in one direction.”






“First thing to do is shave off the back of it. So the next thing we need to do is remove some of the feather from the top of this so we have the spine to actually bind around.”

“Alright. Before we actually go ahead and fletch what I’d like you to do is use your knife to carve out the tip of this so that your atlatl has a place to rest into. Not a lot. A little hole.”



“Take some of our fake sinew. This piece of cord. What I want you to do is make a loop. You’re going to want to go all the way to the feather.”

“For the tips, you actually have a lot of options. What I’ve done on the end of this one is actually add a piece of bamboo that is just a tad wider in diameter. A little bit bigger than the actually dart itself, bound it a few times. It is hollow on the inside. Then I have the opportunity to switch tips. I have something like this I can throw into hay bales for practice. I can make a proper sharp point to go hunting with. Or I can shove a bunch of sticks in side and have a fishing prong style tip.”



“Alright should we go throw darts?”

Tyler: “Let’s go do it.”



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