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Thread: How effective is your (primitive) weapon?

  1. #1
    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default How effective is your (primitive) weapon?

    Many of us like to mix up our choice of weapons for hunting. We all know and adhere to the mantra of "using enough weapon for a quick and humane kill" but sometimes it can be more satisfying to use a weapon that makes the hunt more challenging. Those of us who choose to hunt with "primitive" weapons have frequently been asked to justify our weapon choice and it helps to have some numbers to back up the assertion that "men have been killing mammoth and buffalo with spears for thousands of years." Besides the great number of bowhunters on this forum, I know there are several who hunt with spears and harpoons. So far, I have only killed grouse and rabbits with my atlatl and darts but I hope to go after bigger game soon.

    I found the following chart and some additional charts and interesting reading at I might like to have seen the empirical data presented with margin-of-error range but that is easy enough to visualize, or you can do your own calculations.

    *$%*@# site won't let me format the chart to make it readable in columns - understand that I tried

    In descending order
    Projectile Weight Velocity Kinetic Energy
    .30-06 Rifle 180 grains 2600 fps 2701 ft. lbs.
    .357 magnum Pistol 125 grains 1450 583
    Light Spear 2 pounds 73.5 167
    Heavy Spear 5 pounds 37 106
    Heavy Dart 6 ounces 103 62
    Modern Arrow 540 grains 220 58
    Light Dart 3 ounces 125 45
    Primitive Arrow 500 grains 165 29

    Spring is coming. We only have to endure a few more long and dark nights before it gets here.

  2. #2


    I remember seeing Tred Barta try to kill and elk with a flint tipped arrow. Not so good. The arrow penetrated a couple of inches and the elk ran off, never recovered. If I remember right it looked like a 30-40 yard shot. If he had done his research he would have found that the original users of flint tips never would have expected to kill an elk at that range. They used to get really close.
    Some interesting reading on the subject is found in "David Thompson's Narrative", an explorer and fur trader in western North America in the late 1700's.


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