A recent atlatl course at Revere High School was a real treat to be a part of.
It felt a little crazy planning an atlatl course for mid-February in northeast Colorado. What could have gone wrong? Come to think of it, we were statistically more likely to have a snow day than an ideal day for making and throwing ancient weapons. Whatdahey, we rolled the dice and took a chance. I’m not sure how wise we were for doing so, but Mother Nature showed us favor and we were blessed with a beautiful day with temps in the 60’s. Just like we planned it.
When I showed up to the Revere school I was quickly impressed by the school grounds and friendly staff. Within a few minutes I had located my old friend Mr. Marquez. We spent a few minutes catching up and then moved onto business. He told me we’d have 8 students taking part, and the history teacher, Mr. Michaels, would also be joining in.
After getting out on the baseball field a little early, I was pleased to meet the students who trickled onto the field. With brief introductions aside we got right into the lesson, with kids getting a chance to show off their throwing arms. Chandon showed off his baseball skills, and made this old teacher get on his horse to try and fetch the tennis ball.
Next, we walked and talked about the Stone Age. Students were a little shocked to find out how long this time period lasted for in comparison to human history. Cassie asked some good questions about why things changed and why we started planting crops. They were good questions because they are the kinds of questions historians are still asking.
After learning about the basics of the Stone Age, we talked about the atlatl and introduced the kids to Atlatl Bob. Suffice to say his unique personality was not lost on the kids. Atlatl Bob hates taxes, and therefore hates the bow and arrow. If this doesn’t make sense have the kids try and explain it to you.
With the book learnin behind us, the students picked up their tools and got busy creating their primitive weapons. Tad and Robert got busy shaping their handles right away. Bailey and Whitney also dove right in and soon had good things going. From a teacher’s point of view, it was fun to see the students solving their own problems minute-by-minute, and making their atlatls unique. These devices are not created in a step-by-step process, something I think people don’t necessarily get a lot of these days.
The building took nearly an hour, and then students were ready to throw. As with all things in life, some took to it faster than others. Landon and Nolan both picked it up pretty quick. Before long though, everyone was getting better each throw. We played a few games and tested their newfound skills. We kept score and Mr. Michaels dominated the field by the end of the Atlatl Olympics. Maybe he is a natural Caveman? My thoughts are his newfound “dad strength” is kicking in, and helped propel him to victory.
I want to say a special thanks to the kids who took part in the class. Their willingness to learn and their positive attitudes made it a great day! Hopefully they learned a good deal about the Stone Age and have a better appreciation for the time period. Also, thanks to Mr. Marquez for making it all come together. It was a great way to spend a unseasonably warm mid-February day!