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Spear-throwing event at Deer Lodge

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Spear-throwing event at Deer Lodge
Jim Ray of Tiger Butte prepares to throw a dart using an atlatl during competition held near Deer Lodge several years ago. Pat Hansen / for The Montana Standard.

DEER LODGE — Participants from the World Atlatl Association will meet at the Old Montana Prison is Deer Lodge at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday for the "Fall Hunt" atlatl throw competition.

Atlatl is an Aztec word for "spear thrower" and dates from prehistoric times. The atlatl throws a light-weight spear called a dart with considerable force. Archeologists believe that humans have used the atlatl for more than 40,000 years.

Today, people are rediscovering the atlatl for recreational competition and hunting. Some competitions are restricted to use of primitive materials while others allow use of modern high tech materials and construction methods. The world record for long distance atlatl throwing is held by Dave Ingvall of St. Joseph, Mo., at 848.56 feet using a carbon fiber atlatl with an aluminum dart.

The atlatl competition in Deer Lodge will consist of a European round where contestants will throw at targets from 9 to 28 yards. An International Scoring and Accuracy Contest round will follow. A learning workshop will be available on both days for beginners to try their hand. A tomahawk throw and flint-knapping demonstrations will round out events on both days.

The atlatl competition is open to all museum members and the general public purchasing a regular visitor pass.

For details, call 846-3111.

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