Hurling Ravens Take First and Third in New England’s Longest Running Atlatl Competition

Oct 1, 2015

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Atlatl Team

Franklin Pierce University's Atlatl Team, aka the Hurling Ravens, one of the few college atlatl teams in the nation, took first and third place for distance in both the women's and men's division, and second place for accuracy in the women's division at the 20th Annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship in Addison, VT on Sept. 19.

The regional competition brings together atlatl enthusiasts, historians and contestants from around the world. Since 2007 the University’s Atlatl Club has kept the skill of using the ancient hunting tool alive.

President of Anthropology Club, Kate Pontbriand ’16, took home a silver medal for finishing second in the women’s division.

“Atlatl throwers are more competitive than people would think," said Alexandra Thornton ‘17, "I’m proud to be part of the Hurling Ravens and look forward to more competitions and exposing more people to both atlatl and the history of the weapon and the people who used it.”

The atlatl was a huge development in early human technology when it was developed about 30,000 years ago. It is an ancient spear-thrower used around the world before the bow and arrow. The competition is similar to archery, where contestants throw a six-foot-long dart up to 100 yards. Contestants are challenged in tests of accuracy, distance, and the International Standards Accuracy competition.

Robert G. Goodby, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Franklin Pierce University, lectured for years about the hunting tool and then realized it would be much more fun to hold a demonstration of atlatl throwing for students. The students loved the atlatl and formed their own team.

“For more than a decade Franklin Pierce students have kept this ancient skill alive, succeeding in competitions and educating thousands at science fairs and museums from California to Boston,” says Goodby. “It’s a great fit with our anthropology program that emphasizes hands-on experience, including ethnographic study, museum internships, and archaeological field excavation.”

The Franklin Pierce atlatl team traditionally attends two events in October. Along with competing at the Annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship in Vermont every year, the team also demonstrates the atlatl at the annual Archeology Fair at the Museum of Science in Boston.

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