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Just before Christmas, I wrote a post about the atlatl, an ancient throwing stick that adds great speed and power to a dart. I soon heard from Brad Coutant, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Reclamation in Billings, who offered to take me out and let me try the atlatl someday. That day turned out to be Sunday afternoon, at the practice field behind Daylis Stadium. Brad said he bought his atlatl 10 or 12 years ago, mostly as a cool prop to break out during presentations to school kids.

He bought his atlatl from Bob Perkins of Manhattan, whose adventures with a weed-eating goat have been in the news lately. "Atlatl Bob," as he is known, has a very cool Web site that tells you all you could possibly want to know about atlatls.

I see, by looking at the site, that Brad owns a Great Basin atlatl. I got the hang of the thing fairly quickly, but I'm guessing there's a lot of room for improvement in terms of speed and accuracy. Here's a photo of me using the atlatl:

And here's a photo of my fearless editor, Tom Tollefson, giving the atlatl a try.

Here's Brad, showing the amateurs how it's done:

All photography by Pari Kemmick. No animals or human beings (that we know of) were injured during our outing. And now I'm going to have to get myself an atlatl. Thanks again, Brad.

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