Brief but Accurate History on
to add this page to my web site, just to give anyone that logs on a brief
description of the
weapons used by our ancestors in pre-history, for without them our survival would not have been possible.
I do not claim to be a weapons expert nor do I claim to be an anthropologist, but I have done extensive
Thought to be mans first weapon other than his or her hands.
A very dangerous weapon.
Due to the laws regarding possession & use, I do not manufacture these.
Single Ball Bola (Bola Perdida)
Believed to have been used by primitive man more than 50,000 years ago.
When a hunter discovered a rock could be cast farther with more accuracy
and more velocity than it could by hand, if it had a cord or thong tied to it.
Probably the predecessor to the mace. Made famous in later years by the
Ona Indians, of Tierra Del Fuego, who used them to crush the skulls of Puma.
But the Bola Perdida was and is used world wide.
2 Ball Bola (Avestruccero)
This bola comes in various weights and measurements, depending on the size of the game.
Probably used 50,000+ years ago in pre-history, as a weapon of entanglement.
After dropping his prey, the hunter would rush forward with a fire hardened spear to finish
the prey off.
It migrated with tribes. World wide the most factual history is with the Tehuehches,
of Argentina, who used it to hunt Rhea. It was made famous by the Gaucho's rounding
up horses. It is difficult to use, but my favorite of the primitive weapons.
Mine is 10' of leather & chain with 3" hardwood balls.
3 Ball Bola (Boleadora)
This bola was probably used some 50,000 years ago and also varies in weight and size
depending on the game. This self centering bola is the easiest to master.
Like all bolas, with the exception of the Bola Perdida, it is a weapon of entanglement.
The third ball, or Maneja, is slightly lighter than the other two.
Some Maneja are egg shaped and the one held in the hand. The slip joint always centers
it which creates the natural spread from the thrower to the target.
It was made famous by Gaucho's when hunting the Guanaco.
4,6,8 & 10+ Ball Bolas
These bolas were used throughout the world in pre-history.
They were lighter in weight than other bolas and were mainly used for water fowl or small game.
Many ducks and geese were entangled in these bolas.
Until the availability of shotguns, they were always carried by the Eskimo's who called
them Ka-Lum-Ik-Toun. They are still in use today in many parts of the world.
The Sling (David Sling)
The sling is a very old weapon.
It dates back 40,000+ years ago for hunting small game.
It is simple to make, but to be accurate it takes practice.
It was made famous by the biblical account of David and Goliath.
It was totally mastered by ancient Greek armies as a weapon of war.
For as armies met, the Greek's hailed thousands of egg shaped
projectiles on them, especially the opposing archers.
First the long range slings were used, then the mid-range followed by the short range.
Then both armies charged with Pikes and Swords.
Also used in Rome and Throughout Europe the construction is of leather or cordage.
The sling was also found in the tombs of Egypt, where its use as a hunting weapon is well known.
The Spearthrower and Darts
30,000 years ago the spearthrower is the weapon that changed the world.
With it a hunter could kill any large game, including Mammoth, from a safe distance.
No longer did he have to entangle his prey with a bola and rush in, dangerously close,
to finish it off with a spear.
The spearthrower is a fairly simple weapon.
In primitive times it was made from a tree branch about 1 1/2" thick and about 20-31" in length.
The remaining smaller branches were removed. If there was a protruding hook it was left on
to engage the blunt end of the dart that was recessed to engage the spear or dart shaft.
If there was not a natural hook, the hunter mad one from a piece of wood, bone or antler.
He then lashed it in place.
The finished spearthrower somewhat resembled a crochet hook.
Some spearthrowers utilized a socket in place of the hook.
The socket helped retain the dart.
The primitive hunter could cast the dart forward 100 times faster
than he could by simply throwing it by hand.
Spearthrowers were used almost world wide, but were made famous by the "Aztec".
Many accounts were made by the invading Spanish armies regarding the weapon
the Aztec called Atlatls. This name has stuck.
However, the Australian Aborigines called them Woomera,
the Eskimo's called them Nu Gag and The Latmul of New Guinea call them "Nau".
The spearthrower is still in use today.
There are several organizations world wide, most notably the WAA (see link page),
who, through effort from it's members, has legalized Boar hunting in several states
and I believe Deer hunting in a few states. Consult WAA for more information.
WAA membership is $10.00 per year and I do suggest joining.
This weapon dates back thousands of years, however the specific time of origin is unknown.
Although the blowgun was used (and still is) throughout the world, there is no actual
records of it's use by the Pygmies or Forest People of Africa.
I believe the blowgun originated in S.E. Asia, for there are records dealing with its use
throughout this area, including Malaysia, New Guinea and Borneo. It was probably taken
by migrating peoples to what is now Japan. There blowguns carved from ivory are still intact.
Blowguns are not used in warfare unless by the under strength insurgent groups,
such as in the Philippines during the Spanish American war.
Many an invader fell to the poisoned darts of the Jivaro and Warandi during the Spanish Inquisition.
And not to forget the recent Vietnam war. Poisoned darts were used by both the Viet Minah and the Viet Cong.
The most daring use was by the commandos, under the command of Nazi SS Col. Skornski,
whose men were issued cigarette size blowguns with mini darts coated with Ricin.
The construction workers of the Panama Canal also faced death by natives of the surrounding
jungles, who did not like the takeover of their land. The weapon used of course was the blowgun.
And last but not least were the Ninja of Japan.
It's hard telling how many foe fell to the Fugu tipped darts of their blowguns.
The blowgun is a very efficient weapon for hunting small game and is still used to date.
Blowguns come in many lengths and caliber's, each used for a different purpose.
It's much harder to shoot a dart vertically, so when hunting Monkey's,
Parrots, etc., a 8' to 10' blowgun is used to get the dart up 100' or more.
For small game a blowgun 3' to 6' is used.
My favorite is 3' to 3 1/2' long.
For warfare the cigarette size to 30" is best suited.
The small caliber blowguns with plastic cones and wires sold today are great for target use and are
unbeatable for physical therapy, but for hunting they are not recommended unless a proper dart is
constructed that makes a fairly good wound channel. Most blowguns used for hunting are 50 caliber or over.
I will soon have a book out giving the history of blowguns, their use and the construction of All types
The Staff Sling (Fustibalus)
This is a sling of heavier weight.
It was attached to a shaft 24" to 4' long in which the slinger could cast heavier stones.
The pouch was larger than a standard sling, with shorter straps.
One of the straps is attached about 8" below the top of the shaft.
The second is then slipped into a notch on the tip of the shaft.
Other types just had a loose loop over the top of the shaft.
When used the 2nd strap flies off thus releasing the projectile.
Staff Slings were used basically as a fortification weapon.
Today they are great for flushing out game.
The Shot Thrower
This basically is an extension to the arm.
It is a bamboo sling.
It is simple to use and with a little practice, I have found it to be fairly effective.
I use mine cut from bamboo. The shaft is 1 1/2" in diameter and about 30" long.
I cut right below a node then drill out the center hole to 9/16".
I then use a very thin layer of melted beeswax to burnish the bore.
To use simply load with pea gravel or small shot.
Use some tissue paper as a wad to keep shot in place.
Then cast with a whip motion, holding the thrower so barrel is to your head.
It is great on small game and with a little practice, fairly accurate.
For the beginner I suggest using 1/2" brite shot they sell for sling shots.
With it you can see where the shot is going.
Natives used this in the Philippines.
The Stone Thrower
Another sling of sorts and basically the same construction as the shot thrower, only larger in diameter.
I use bamboo 1 1/2" to 2" in diameter.
Then I cut from the bottom of the node and cross cut the bamboo down to the next node.
I then apply a good glue, such as Gorilla or Grizzly, to the node and let dry.
I try to get some around the lower portion of the fingers.
After the glue has dried I coat the inner fingers with a thin layer of melted beeswax and burnish it in.
To load fin a rounded rock of the right size and push it into the fingers as far as it will go.
The stone thrower is then cast in the same method as the shot thrower using a whip like action.
The thrower will release the projectile just below the shoulders, if done correctly.
Like the shot thrower, the stone thrower was used in the Philippines.
The Throwing Arrow
This weapon looks like a giant arrow and is great for hunting small game, either on foot or horseback.
The arrow is 5' to 6' long and 1" to 1 1/2" in diameter.
It has goose wing feathers for fletching and a sharpened steel spike.
The balance point of the throwing arrow is a rawhide grip attached with sinew.
This weapon was used by many tribes of the plains and still is to this day.
During pow wows, a ring is thrown in the air and a person on
horseback attempts to throw the arrow through the ring.
Several years ago a small boy was hit in the head with a throwing arrow.
Luckily he survived!
This is a extremely deadly weapon.
Make sure you check your local laws!
This weapon dates back centuries.
Natives could cast this with amazing accuracy at a distance of 30 to 50 yards.
The Greeks and Romans attached a leather thong to the center of their javelins.
It was called a "Amentum".
A warrior placed his forefinger in the amentum. This accelerated the speed of the cast.
The Melanesian islanders used a accelerator also, but this type remained in the throwers hand.
For without the "Ounkp", an enemy could not cast it back at him.
Ours is 5' to 6' long and features a bone blade.
I hope this has given you a brief history on our products.
Design, Layout & Revisions ©2010 Bob Booth's Primitive Weapons
Webmaster: Daniel L. Malone
Revised: January 2, 2010