Author Topic: War Darts w/ Throwing String  (Read 3811 times)

Offline iam4liberty

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War Darts w/ Throwing String
« on: February 25, 2018, 08:01:34 PM »
The 5 foot war dart is a wonderfully effective primitive weapon.  And the tests are showing throwing strings like used by Irish are as effective as an atlatl handle of similar length; extending range by about 50%. Videos:

Part I: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJotBsrqbwI

Part II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLx0ZRqHYPI

Offline archer

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2018, 03:56:56 PM »
rather cool

Offline David in MN

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2018, 04:33:20 PM »
I'm always dubious of Medieval weaponry (and I almost had a Medieval history minor and make chainmail). I mean the vast majority of these type of spear weapons fall short of the basic bow and arrow. Most of the weapons depicted in art were the more stylish rather than effective (you'll see more halberds than fauchards). In fact many weapons of the time were intentionally stylized to look more impressive than practical.

Even the tip is suspect. These are people who would have known the superior Roman pilum tip for a spear rather than a giant ornate tip. And any general would have known that carrying 5 lbs of spears would equate to 200 arrows.

Cool concept but the practicality is a little desiring. I'm going to throw a spear +-10 yards? I could hit either side of the line. I'm more inclined to believe that armed guards carrying massive spears with stylized heads were part of the pomp and circumstance of state events. Still to this day Hollywood uses a Desert Eagle or "golden gun" rather than the SHTF Glock 19.

Cool video and a channel I frequent but I suspect this is a thinly used weapon. Maybe he's right that it was used in naval battles but that's the limit for me.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2018, 05:11:23 PM »
I'm always dubious of Medieval weaponry (and I almost had a Medieval history minor and make chainmail). I mean the vast majority of these type of spear weapons fall short of the basic bow and arrow. Most of the weapons depicted in art were the more stylish rather than effective (you'll see more halberds than fauchards). In fact many weapons of the time were intentionally stylized to look more impressive than practical.

Even the tip is suspect. These are people who would have known the superior Roman pilum tip for a spear rather than a giant ornate tip. And any general would have known that carrying 5 lbs of spears would equate to 200 arrows.

Cool concept but the practicality is a little desiring. I'm going to throw a spear +-10 yards? I could hit either side of the line. I'm more inclined to believe that armed guards carrying massive spears with stylized heads were part of the pomp and circumstance of state events. Still to this day Hollywood uses a Desert Eagle or "golden gun" rather than the SHTF Glock 19.

Cool video and a channel I frequent but I suspect this is a thinly used weapon. Maybe he's right that it was used in naval battles but that's the limit for me.

Sir Niel O'Neill was the military leader of the Jacobite Dragoons so that is pretty compelling to me.



The tip is pretty typical but a wide variety of types were used depending on intended use.


Offline iam4liberty

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2018, 06:36:02 PM »

Offline David in MN

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2018, 05:43:30 AM »
O'Neill is also standing over Samurai armor. Actually everything in the painting is symbolic and not literal. And I do not trust Romantic art in general.

This is my criticism. It may well be a real weapon used in some small part where tactically advantageous. But the ability of artists and storytellers to create a legend of the great spear throwers who could hurdle a javelin 100 yards is a little too tempting. And the idea that the average guy carried 5 long spears through dense forests is a stretch.

At the end of the day we are faced with the hard choice and can only concede "maybe". Maybe this was a real weapon. Or maybe it was a good way to lionize certain fighters and ignore that they really used fauchards which were banned in combat by the Pope. European arms went through rapid and radical changes so there's likely no way to know how often such a niche weapon was used.

I'd still like to try throwing one.  ;)

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2018, 07:00:27 AM »
O'Neill is also standing over Samurai armor. Actually everything in the painting is symbolic and not literal.

Good eye.  The Jacobites were supported by the shoguns of Japan over this time.  They sent ceromonial armor as gifts to key figures.  You can see one of the sets given to James I in the tower of london:(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Saris).  So in that sense it is symbolic.

The Kern soldier was indeed a real type of soldier.  From wikipedia here are their tactics:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kern_(soldier)

Kerns were light troops who relied on speed and mobility, often utilising lightning strike tactics as a force-multiplier to engage much larger formations. In the words of one writer, they were, "lighter and lustier than [English soldiers] in travail and footmanship".[6] The dart was the weapon of choice for the kern, the bow never achieving popularity in the country. Kerns were of great use in the warfare that revolved around cattle raiding in Ireland at the time. Their role was to herd captured cattle away from the enemy territory and to support heavier troops such as the gallowglass. When confronted by English style regiments, the kern would follow enemy troops on their march route, firing on them with darts, javelins, and stones from slings. Occasionally, provided the terrain and timing was right, kerns would move in for close combat. If their opponents broke and ran, they could easily be run down by the swift kern; if the enemy soldiers stood firm they would simply retreat into difficult terrain to renew their harassment later. On occasions where they were pursued into the more difficult terrain of bogs or woods, the hunters risked becoming the hunted as the kern could double back and eliminate isolated groups.



a. Irishman in mantle. Cap is of a type worn by Irish irregulars in Europe, b. Kern with "Skean", shield and darts. Tunic is simpler than the Ulster version shown in Derrick's prints. Note type of surcoat. c. Kern, early 17th Century. He wears a very short, loose coat of blue and tight hose (pinkish-red seems to be the usual color). He holds his sword under his right arm (the Irish are often shown holding sheathed swords, rather than having them slung from belts). In his left hand is a javelin, in this case having actual flights, like a modern dart. He wears dark leather brogues, d. Irish chieftain, 17th Century. He holds a black, gold mounted javelin in his right hand, and a shield (a large oval affair, covered in red leather and decorated with studs) in his left. His conical cap is of tooled red leather. He wears a slashed doublet with halt sleeves, the traditional fringed cloak and red hose, and a decorated "Erse apron",

Offline David in MN

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2018, 07:57:15 AM »
Good eye. 

If I'd have done what I wanted in college I would have been a weapons historian. But that would have taken 10 years of school with little job prospects.  :-\

Makes sense as a hilltop skirmisher weapon. Take advantage of the height and use something that has a terror aspect to it. And why you'd want flights to stabilize.

Interesting bit of niche weaponry. Looks like it would be fun to toss.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2018, 06:46:45 PM »
Interesting bit of niche weaponry. Looks like it would be fun to toss.

I was most interested in how throwing string compared to an atlatl arm.

I might take a trip to Missouri to watch the atlatl club competitions.  They are growing in popularity as a sport and hunting tool.

https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/missouri/2017/10/08/atlatl-hunter-1st-modern-missouri-woman-take-deer-ancient-hunting-tool/737262001/

Atlatl hunter is 1st modern Missouri woman to take deer with ancient hunting tool

Offline David in MN

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2018, 07:09:21 PM »
I was most interested in how throwing string compared to an atlatl arm.

I might take a trip to Missouri to watch the atlatl club competitions.  They are growing in popularity as a sport and hunting tool.

https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/missouri/2017/10/08/atlatl-hunter-1st-modern-missouri-woman-take-deer-ancient-hunting-tool/737262001/

Atlatl hunter is 1st modern Missouri woman to take deer with ancient hunting tool

I grew up with a bunch of hunters who insisted on "making their own weapons". That meant spearing bear, using homemade archery, and even taking deer with throwing axes. One of my best friends as a boy held the WI state record for a bear shot with a muzzleloader he made. I still have a throwing axe from a Michigan maker I'd buy more from.

If you get the opportunity to try an atlatl you'll find it a tool that while challenging is fun. I did a lot as a kid with a sling which is deadly in the right hands and useless in others.

I think the skill of ancient weapons is fun to learn. Good luck pursuing them. It's a good time.

Offline Hurricane

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Re: War Darts w/ Throwing String
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2018, 03:31:47 PM »
here is a link to the article containing the above picture and caption

http://myarmoury.com/feature_armies_irish.html