--- Throwsticks.com Q+A Page ---
General Product Questions
1. How Durable Are Your Throwsticks?
To produce the toughest and most durable products available, we are using high impact polycarbonate plastic, which we are machining by hand ourselves to exacting standards. This high grade material is the same stuff used to manufacture bullet proof glass and high impact lenses. Its specific gravity is similar to the mulga wood once used in the heart of Australia for throwstick making, but it is much more durable than wood. Unlike desert mulga wood, which may possibly warp with age, the polycarbonate holds its tune forever unless forcibly warped under considerable force. Eventually, our line of models may expand to include both high end seasoned wood sticks, as well as other ultra high impact materials.
In four years of polycarbonate kylie making and research, making numerous kylies and subjecting them to much abuse, throwing regularly against fences and fence posts, heavy plywood, etc... we have seen minor dents and dings on the edges of the sticks occur, as well as several major dents or dings. Two very abused sticks which we warped repeatedly in a clamp, broke in half during hard use, throwing against solid objects.
Conducting testing in throwing very heavy 1lb kylies at large, solid boulders, at close range, at full force, we found we were able to break our sticks after repeated direct impacts on the boulders. They didn't break immediately, but we were able to break them after multiple throws at maximum power. Occasional impacts on hard objects do not seem to harm the throwsticks. We have heard reports that extreme cold weather below freezing can make the throwsticks more fragile when taking direct impacts on solid steel goalposts. We don't live in those conditions and have hit numerous goalposts without a single breakage. Dings and cuts to the edge of kylie can occur when thrown against sharp metal objects or sharp rocks. We have sticks we've heavily abused over several years which have numerous dings in them but still function as good as new.
Our conclusion is that polycarbonate throwsticks are difficult to break. In our experience, only repeated, direct impacts on extremely solid or sharp objects even pose a risk, but most of the time we've found that a polycarbonate kylie, if it takes any dent at all, will tend to cold form rather than shatter. Small edge dings can be hammered out on an anvil, if necessary, but they don't tend to develop easily or be a problem in normal or survival type usage. We are unable to offer a guarantee on whatever results you will experience with polycarbonate kylies, but we are very satisfied with the results we have seen after years of testing and hundreds of thousands of throws.
Note that the paint jobs on our throwsticks can scratch or wear if thrown in harsh or abrasive conditions such as pavement or rock. This may reveal the translucent polycarbonate underneath to some degree. Throwsticks can be left unpainted upon request. They are not as attractive this way, but they still do their job. We've found that darker colors show scratches and dirt a lot less than lighter colors such as orange. Orange is brighter to locate out in the field however.
Hardwood throwsticks should never be used for target practice against solid objects. They are prone to potential damage and breakage.
2. What Is The Difference Between A Throwstick And A Boomerang?
The throwstick is the father of the boomerang. Boomerangs were only used in some portions of Australia for amusement or as a decoy for hunting, but throwsticks or kylies were used much more extensively, including on other continents. Boomerangs are generally lighter in weight and they are designed to fly a curved flight path and return to where they were thrown from. Throwsticks, or kylies, are generally heavier in weight and are designed to fly straight for long distances in order to take game through the delivery of a hard blow. Many, including myself at one time or another, have mistakenly called throwsticks "straight flying boomerangs." This is rather confused and incorrect because boomerangs are internationally recognized to be returning winged objects, and they originated from throwsticks, not the other way around. The word "boomerang" was originally a misunderstanding, but now it has become one of a handful of universal words that are recognized in every language. Throwsticks by contrast, which are internationally known by the word "kylie", are something that most people are not familiar with. Because of this, many people call them boomerangs. This is technically not correct.
3. Please Explain Hand Tuning
Well a kylie is just like a fine musical instrument which is manufactured and then tuned afterwards. We make our kylies in our shop to exacting standards, but then each stick is individually tuned and tested on our throwing range until it produces a straight and level flight path out to the range we tune it at, using the most ideal throwing technique we can achieve. We do most of this tuning with a mere rasp and sandpaper, adjusting the lift that the wing gives, and its attitude in flight. We are able to adjust direction of travel in every direction and also adjust for level flight path as airspeed is lost to drag. Our tuning is nearly invisible to look at, giving us a highly consistent and beautiful finished product. Each throwstick is repeatedly tested at different ranges, and further adjustments made until our high standards are met.
Hand crafted and tuned products like this are something special to own. Each stick tests my arm as much as I test its flight. We can only produce so many throwsticks in a week due to the wear and tear that testing throwsticks takes on the body.
Tuning is velocity and spin rate specific. This means that once a throwstick is fine tuned, it is fine tuned to be thrown in the way that the throwstick tuner threw it. If thrown incorrectly by the end user, it will not operate as efficiently as it was certified to do. The end user must learn to adapt to the product in order to achieve the best results. Pay attention to proper technique and you will do really well with anything we make. Like any sport this takes practice to achieve the best results.
4. What Is The Difference Between A Hard Tuned And Soft Tuned Throwstick?
Kylies have a remarkable ability to compensate for a diversity of throwers while still performing fairly well. A soft throw with a low spin rate may stay aloft longer than one would expect, even on a hard tune throwstick which is designed to be thrown very rapidly with a high rate of spin. But they are still an airspeed dependent instrument and smaller or weaker individuals may not be able to throw as hard as I do, thus limiting their ability to comfortably or adequately throw a hard tuned throwstick.
We offer our Karli Model in a "soft tuned" version so that weaker or more casual throwers may throw at slower airspeeds and still achieve reasonable results. The soft tuned karli model is tuned to 55 meters at only a moderate throwing force. If thrown at full force by a strong individual, it would climb well above the target into the sky, but if thrown lightly, it will glide into the target straight. We expect that soft tuned sticks will not have much more straight flight range in them than the basic 55 meters we tune them for, but achieving this distance doesn't require a very hard throw and so soft tuned kylies, while being lower performance throwsticks, are more accessible for a wider range of people. Soft tuning is a somewhat subjective standard for us to achieve and so soft tuned sticks vary stick to stick from each other slightly.
"Hard tuning" is our standard tune that we put on most of our throwsticks unless someone asks for the stick to be soft tuned, but hard tuning varies stick to stick slightly. Hard tuning is defined as a straight flight to test range thrown at a repeatable and hard throw in perfect form, by myself. This is less than my (Benjamin Scott's) maximal throwing force, but close to it. I throw slightly harder, the longer my test range is placed away from my target, so a hard tuned 65 meter throwstick such as the Longhunter may be slightly softer than a hard tuned 75 meter stick, which in turn may be softer than a hard tuned 80 meter stick. As I push the limits outwards I must throw harder to achieve the ranges and in doing so, the airspeed increases and the kylie will rise slightly as a result. I tune this rising tendency out of the stick until the range is achieved.
Thus if I were to hard tune a karli model at 100 meters, it would require significant airspeed to keep it from losing altitude, but if thrown at adequate airspeed it would do 100 meters straight. Extreme range kylies are a gamble to sell because many people do not have the ability to throw them hard enough to keep them in flight. We choose ranges from 50-80 meters so that our kylies are accessible, easier to mass produce and still extremely impressive and fun to use.
Some models such as the Big Hunter Model are tuned at shorter ranges than they could be pushed out to, just so that they are more accessible and easier to throw despite their heavy weight. This is a form of soft tuning, but since the Big Hunter is so heavy, it still takes a similar amount of strength and energy to throw as the smaller, faster traveling throwsticks such as the Central Desert Hunter. This is a compromise. A Big Hunter hard tuned at 100 meters would require more strength than I am presently capable of throwing at and even attempting it would cause me to risk injuring my arm.
Our advice is that most athletic individuals of average size, who feel they have a good arm and solid wrist should purchase either heavy or hard tuned throwsticks and learn to adapt to them. But for weaker individuals who would prefer something that flies at a slower speed with less power and range, we recommend smaller soft tuned sticks such as the soft tuned karli.
For extremely powerful or athletic individuals such as baseball pitchers or advanced tennis players, they will adapt to a hard tuned throwstick by throwing it at somewhat less than their maximal force, since at their maximal force, the stick may rise at range. Their excess strength means that they should have an easier time achieving accuracy, but no advantage on power or range.
Whether a throwstick is tuned hard or soft, if it is thrown improperly without appropriate velocity, adequate spin, proper wrist alignment, or alignment with the target, it will not behave as it is programmed to and may rise above or fall short of the target. Learning proper throwstick technique is essential to achieving the ranges stated for each model.
Future research is being directed towards aerodynamic efficiency, such that longer ranges can be achieved without having to throw harder. This wil allow us to expand our test ranges without risking injury to my throwing arm.
5. Can I Play Fetch With My Dog With This?
We find that dogs would prefer something that goes slower to a shorter range, such as a frisbee. A dog can't adequately see far enough to go fetch a kylie. We may design shorter range dog fetching sticks in the future if there is enough interest, but we want to make sure they are safe. If this interests you, then let us know.
6. Can You Make Me Something Custom?
Yes we can, but additional charges will apply. We have perfected the models we carry in stock and specialize in mass producing them. Anything we make custom is non-refundable and subject to sometimes large additional charges to reflect the additional communication, designing, creating and testing of whatever you may have in mind. We are most interested in replicating true Aboriginal artifacts of fine specifications, but there are some techniques we do not prefer to use and/or cannot easily replicate, and so we may turn down some requests. Not all Aboriginal kylies historically performed as well as others, or as well as the ones we are making, which are based in some of the more advanced Aboriginal designs. Expectations on a custom product's performance should be lower than on those we have perfected ourselves and sell as our standard models.
7. Which Throwstick Is Right For Me?
We have created a range of throwsticks in order to make them accessible to a variety of people with a variety of purposes. We recommend that the the Soft Tuned Karli Model, the Wirlki Model and the Hopi Rabbit Stick are the three most accessible throwsticks for a majority of users. If you are left handed then order the Whale's Tail Kylie in left handed version. The Long Hunter is the easiest to throw of the bigger and faster throwsticks. The Big Hunter and the Central Desert Hunter are best suited for athletic individuals, or men of average to large sized frames. They may be too heavy for smaller individuals to handle effectively. The hard tuned Karli Model is not heavy but it requires a very fast throw to operate. It is thus accessible to smaller but athletic individuals, but possibly too fast and light for larger/slower individuals.
If you are really concerned that you cannot throw a throwstick with enough power to make it fly straight, then try a soft tuned Karli Model throwstick. We can make a stick which is thrown at a slower speed and still reaches out to 55 meters distance. The Hopi Rabbit sticks typically tuned almost as hard as some of our other throwsticks, despite its shorter range, but they are lightweight and easily accessible for that reason.
Do not forget that growing stronger is a part of any sport, and with some practice you may find yourself doing much better than you did when you started, eliminating your need for a softer tuned stick. Practice makes perfect.
We recommend for the majority of throwers that they start small and move up later after they get into the sport more seriously. The Karli Model is an amazing throwstick and our first choice for anyone wanting something advanced and high performing. It is light enough in weight that it is comfortable and convenient to use for smaller people, and still feels great to stronger individuals. Heavier throwsticks are fun to watch fly, but they are more challenging to throw.
8. What Do You Mean By Straight Flight Test Range?
The straight flight testing range of a given model of throwstick is the specified range we test it out to while observing that it's flights remain level and straight enough to potentially hit a target which it is thrown directly at. It is not the same thing as maximal range, which exceeds straight flight range, and sometimes significantly. Sometimes even the potential straight flight range of an individual stick may exceed our standards. Consider this a bonus. Because individual results vary, we can't guarantee that all throwers will have the same success that we have. We do guarantee that each and every throwstick we sell has first been flight tested and observed to have the ability to consistently fly straight to its stated test range, before we put our stamp on it and ship it out.
When we test and tune throwsticks, we first test each stick at 35 meters, and then move to 45 meters once we understand and correct the basic attitude. We then move out to either 50, 60, 65, 70, 75, or 80 meters and ensure that the flight path is still flat, straight and level, depending on whatever our final test range is stated to be for a given model. The longer the range the more intensive the tuning must be on the throwstick and generally the harder the tuning on the throwstick will be, thus requiring higher initial launch velocities to achieve extreme ranges.
The test range is not the same thing as the maximum range that the kylie will travel, nor even the maximal range it will continue to travel straight and level. Rather, it is the range that we have agreed to straight flight test and certify a specific model of kylie out to for a given price. Beyond this tuning range it may or may not continue to maintain its straight flight attitude, continue traveling in an altered attitude, or stall out. We are not aware of what it may do beyond our tuning range for every throwstick we make, but we've found that in most cases the kylie will continue to fly straight for at least a few meters beyond the range we have tuned it out to, and in some cases even more.
Our expectations for straight and level flight are really high and so while an 80 meter tested Karli model may be able to fly into a big soccer net at 95 meters distance, it probably won't be flying quite as straight and level as it was at 80 meters once it gets there. We choose our tuning ranges to be reasonable and consistently achievable goals for true straight flights. Can we fine tune beyond these ranges? Yes we can, but it takes additional time, energy, and wear and tear on my arm to iron out the details. Human error and fatigue begins to set in and cause additional judgment issues. A very hard tuned kylie is a dead kylie when your arm is tired or you're throwing with a backwind. They aren't necessarily worth their cost unless you are an extremely strong thrower and are looking to maximize your potential.
We are working on full sized throwsticks which are so aerodynamically efficient that they have straight flight ranges well beyond 100 meters. We did 125 meters with one of them late last year. We have not released these throwsticks yet, but when they are released they will be more pricey than the others due to the extra time needed to fine tune them.
Smaller, thinner throwsticks may be available in the future which may have flight ranges beyond 300-400 meters. These are easily lost btw.... If either of the above products interests you, let us know and we may focus more on these projects.
9. How Far Can Your Throwsticks Fly?
Our present straight flight range record on a full sized hunting throwstick is over 126 meters. This throw was achieved on Feb. 9, 2017. The kylie went into the side of a hill on the far side of the field we threw in and we were not able to equal this throw the rest of the day. We know this range can be beat, and as we have tim,e we'll do so, but maximum range is not the present focus of our business. We are focused on straight and level flight paths out to reasonable hunting ranges, thrown at less than maximal exertion. Maximal ranges between 85 and 115 meters are commonly achieved by athletic individuals with most of our models. When thrown at absolute maximal force by powerful throwers, most of our throwsticks will rise and climb somewhat in response. They are meant to be thrown at slightly slower speeds where accuracy and repeatable and enjoyable throwing is possible. Individual results always do vary and sometimes significantly. We do not guarantee flight range on our throwsticks. What we guarantee is that I, Benjamin Scott, have hand tested and certified every single throwstick I sell, at the range stated for that specific product, and found the flight path to be reasonably straight and level to that range. To achieve similar results the end user of any of our products will have to acquire similar throwing skills to the kylie tuner.
If people are interested in long ranges, small thin kylies can be made to achieve ranges in excess of 300-400 meters, where they are easily lost! We may begin to manufacture these in the future if the interest level is high. We can only assume that anyone who buys one will probably need a dozen after loosing them in the distance! 400 meters is almost half a kilometer!
10. Do You Make Left Handed Kylies?
Yes, absolutely, we can make you a left handed kylie. But only in a symmetrical centerbent model. At this point in time that means that any left handed throwers should order the Whale's Tail Kylie. It can be tuned and tested right or left handed. Any kylie with an off center bend must be tuned by a skilled left handed thrower in order to be able to certify that it is tuned correctly. Since we presently do not have access to such an individual, we must limit left handed sales to the centerbent models. If you are left handed and want more selection then let us know what you are looking for and we'll take your communication seriously.
In the meantime, The Whale's Tail Kylie is one of our finest mid to long range models. It is a very fine kylie and one of our absolute favorites. We are testing it out to 70 meters for straight flights and it sometimes does more than this.
History Science And Survival Questions
1. What Types Of Game Can Be Taken With A Throwstick?
Historically deer, kangaroo, and emu have all been taken by large throwsticks with leg shots or headshots. Throwsticks were ideal for rabbits and smaller game but could also take coyotes on leg shots or headshots. The strength of the thrower, the weight of the throwstick and the placement of the shot were all factors in what game could be taken. Throwsticks can take game on the run, and they are very instinctive to use. Long range accuracy is difficult to achieve and group hunting increases the odds of a hit significantly. Flocks of birds and particularly waterfowl are vulnerable to throwsticks, but careful throwing is necessary because throwsticks will sink in water.
2. What Advantages And Disadvantages Does The Throwstick Have Over Other Survival Hunting Weapons?
As a long term sustainable survival hunting weapon which is not dependent on modern manufacturing to maintain its effectiveness, the throwstick has many advantages over the bow, as well as other possible survival weapon choices. In an open country scenario against a group of animals, it has a longer effective hunting range than the modern compound bow. It's much more durable than arrows and with the proper knowledge at hand and some basic tools, it's easier to make than to make a good arrow, even with stone tools. It offers long term usage unless it is abused and thus broken or lost. It is deployed much more rapidly than a bow, even against moving targets, and is easier to keep in ready position for long periods of time, making opportunistic shots possible and eliminating the need for a tree stand. It flies on a straight trajectory making range to target trajectory/holdover calculations irrelevant. It is able to break legs, making the escape of game impossible compared to a shot with an arrow which kills slowly, allowing possible escape. It has other uses than as a hunting weapon including digging, hand to hand fighting, clearing brush, tending fires, clearing trails, etc.... It has a shotgun like effect when thrown at a flock of birds, allowing the taking of multiple animals in one single shot at extreme ranges. On a single day's hunt with a throwstick, it can be instantly deployed hundreds of times and retrieved afterwards. It is useful to hunt a variety of both small as well as large game. It is the last ditch weapon of opportunity when everything else has failed. It was one of a very few items the Aborigines carried to survive. It has disadvantages too. It is difficult to develop and maintain accuracy unless practiced with frequently. It is not good in thick brush where it gets hung up before it can even reach its target. It is only as powerful as the thrower can throw it to be. It is right or left hand specific. It can be lost if thrown in the wrong places, and it does not float in water. It is..., primitive. It is not nearly as easy as hunting with a rifle. Yet even against the modern rifle, as a survival weapon, the throwstick has some advantages to speak of as well. It is silent and stealthy, not scaring away surrounding game or attracting unwanted attention. It never runs out of bullets. It has no moving parts to fail or to keep clean or dry. It is much lighter in weight than a gun. It can replace other tools one might carry such as a shovel or machete. It is more quickly deployed than a gun at close range targets.
3. How Did Throwsticks Stand The Test Of Time? Most Ranged Weapons Use Disposable Ammunition.
In terms of disposable ammo, I think that's a common and understandable misconception. No hunting projectiles were ever truly considered completely disposable other than the modern bullets we use today at $1 a shot. In hunting, only one shot is usually available on a target before it escapes or is taken. Thus the main concern would be whether the non-disposable projectiles could be re-collected and used again or not. In warfare the concerns are completely different.
While the sling uses disposable ammo, it was never too much of a hunting weapon due to accuracy and rapid or stealth deployment issues. It could be used in a pinch and definitely was, but it could only kill on a head shot against large game, and historically it was used primarily by agricultural societies/empires to guard crops and animals. It was also practical for ranged warfare against an army. The bola is an exception to this in many ways, but is not considered disposable.
Good quality (accurate) arrows more than bows and even throwsticks were always the most difficult ranged weapons item to source and construct properly in all regions of the world. Even assuming suitable materials were available in a given region, a single arrow could take a huge amount of work to produce correctly, let alone a quiver full of arrows with matched spines and weights. Arrows were thus not particularly disposable items, despite their fragility. Shots had to be carefully chosen or costs would be high. This is one drawback that primitive peoples had to deal with whenever they released a bowstring. Speaking of which, bowstrings themselves were fragile as well, and generally needed dry weather conditions to be effective until they eventually would break and need replacing with specialized materials.
For large game hunting where the cost of an arrow was worth less than the game it would take, the bow was an effective choice for large game at ranges below about 20-35 meters max. But the valuable arrow was rarely worth the risk of a long shot that would probably miss, or a rabbit, even at close range. And even a heart shot on a large animal might still not take it fast enough to guarantee it wouldn't run away and die in a hidden place. The Hopi Indians knew these things and used throw sticks on rabbits at ranges out to 50 meters or more, where even if they missed, they just picked up their stick and kept trying. The American Indians did hunt large game at close range with the bow to some degree, but they also used numerous other clever methods which were more effective, including traps, etc....
The atlatl required suitable dart material, which was not available everywhere. And the high skill level needed to make matched spine darts for accurate shots is similar to that of matched spine arrows. Atlatl darts are also very fragile and break off in game. The spear thrower was more crude than the atlatl and had shorter ranges than many other range weapons but was deadly within its maximum range. The spears were collected again after each use. Manufacture of spears is relatively fast and easy, even if broken. Thus, the spear thrower is a great sustainable hunting weapon, yet it requires a specialized environment to allow for a close concealed stalk up on game, yet without numerous trees in the way which could tangle with the spears.
The Australian continent was isolated from the rest of the world and the ancient Aboriginal culture presumably did not have access to or knowledge of primitive ranged weapons other than the throw stick and the spear thrower. I am unsure as to whether they had access to suitable archery components anywhere on the Australian continent, whether they knew they did or not. Like the unique animals on their continent, they used unique weapons. They developed their throwsticks to the height of technological development found anywhere in the world, particularly in the central desert region of Australia where very long range shots were necessary since close stalking was impossible to do in the open. Also, very dense local hardwoods such as desert mulga provided a durable and deadly construction material which makes most oak feel light in weight by comparison.
Over ages the Aborigines refined and passed on very advanced information on the proper making and tuning of long range throw sticks. This practical development eventually gave them flight ranges beyond 100 meters. Where the bow shoots on an arched trajectory with a limited effective range, the throwstick flies straight and has an effective range at least 2 to 4 times longer, making close stalking skills less important. I think it could thus be effectively argued that the throwstick is a more effective desert hunting tool than the bow and arrow would have been, if the Aborigines would have had access to them both and had the option of choosing.
Out of all the variety of throwsticks used in Australia, the central desert throwstick represents perhaps the highest achievement of long range, straight flight technology on the Australian continent. These were traded in pairs across large regions of the continent to the outlying tribes, who valued them very highly.
Of all the hunting weapons mentioned above, none had ammo that was truly disposable, but only three had ammo that was truly durable. The bola, the spear thrower and the throw stick. In a survival hunting scenario where one is not being backed up by the manufacturing capabilities of an empire or at least a village, unless one has the skills to manufacture good arrows and darts, the bow and atlatl are poor weapons to use. But the throwstick never runs out of arrows/bullets and can always be retrieved again after a hunt is over. This makes the throwstick an ideal survival weapon against a variety of game, large and small, that wouldn't be even attempted with a bow. It stood the test of time for long generations until it encountered the firearm..., which was one of the great human tragedies of the modern age.
Up until the 1950's and to a limited degree beyond, there were still Australian Aborigines in the central part of Australia, uncontacted and using their bushcraft ancient weapons to put meat on their fires. The throwsticks and spear throwers provided the Aborigines with ample food supply until the Aborigines themselves were defeated and removed from their primitive lifestyle by the European colonists who used firearms. The throwstick is a great long range desert hunting tool but a poor weapon for long range warfare. The Aborigines rapidly lost the fight against guns. Their obsolete throwstick technology was collected and put onto the walls of Australian homesteads as decorations, and eventually into museums as another culture became dominant through their use of superior weapons technology. The ancient throwsticks that remain are now sometimes valued at thousands of dollars a piece, depending on the quality and age. Relics of an old way of life now vanished. But to the Aborigines they were not valued in terms of dollars but in terms of the food they provided. A simpler way to think.
Firearms will always be dominant in warfare, but the throwstick is dominant when the ammo is all gone or too heavy to carry, and empires are lost to history. If ever such a time should arise again, the throwstick will once again arise as the hunting tool of choice in many regions.
4. Why Did Throwstick Usage Die Out In Most Parts Of The World Other Than Australia?
In answer to this question there are numerous theories. In ancient times, different people groups and regions of the world would specialize in different weapons at different times. This was due to several reasons, such as the needs of their particular society, whether hunter/gatherer or agrarian, tribal or imperial, peaceful or violent. Also, availability of natural resources suitable for manufacture of particular weapons was another determining factor, as was the exposure during peace or war to various technological breakthroughs achieved in other regions.
Like the throwstick, the ancient sling is an example of an isolated weapon when considered in the context of the Andes mountains. The Inca, which were an agricultural empire who used the sling extensively. The abundance of suitable llama wool to manufacture slings, and the abundance of stones to use as projectiles were driving forces behind their choice of this weapon. On the other hand, they did not use bows and arrows because of their lack of supply of suitable wood for manufacture in their region. They developed sling braiding to a breathtaking complexity and beauty and they became deadly shots, as recorded by their conquistador invaders who claimed to have seen slingstones break swords and kill horses.
The history of the world and human culture is the history of weapons technology development and its eventual results. Since weapons technology gave an edge in warfare as well as in hunting, an "arms race" which came through the threat and reality of violence was inevitable globally, as it still is today. Certain weapons were so powerful and refined that they tended to actually work towards producing empires, and empires in turn produced these weapons as a means to further their empires.... One empire would tend to rule until the next used superior weapon's technology or tactics to conquer it.
Bows and arrows were a high level weapon technology for ancient man. Empires could divide labor, import materials, and specialize in making high quality arrows, bows, and strings the way global empires specialize in making fighter jets and nukes today.... But lone hunters and tribal peoples were generally not as good at this in most places of the world, and thus their ways of life tended towards being wiped out by the nearby empires which possessed superior ranged firepower. The bow attained warfare weapons dominance in most parts of the world due to its high velocity, range, organ piercing power, repeat shot capacity, and easy adaptability to horseback. On the other hand, the bow and arrow doesn't go hand in hand with hunter/gatherer cultures as much as we sometimes perceive that they do. Although there are exceptions, they were used in a well developed form much more by agriculturally based empires than by small hunter/gather groups.
The throwstick was never much of a weapons advantage for warfare. In hunting it was an amazing tool which could take game on the run, but warfare it was easy to dodge and generally non-lethal. Thus the highest refinements of weapons technology available in Australia left the continent at a relatively basic warfare technology stalemate among the different tribes. The rise of empire was not bolstered by the bow and arrow as it was elsewhere in the world. With no single group in Australia using the bow, it seems theoretically true that without empire, technological innovation reaches its upper limits at advanced bushcraft and goes no further. In theory, this self limiting technological development, whether geographical or due to preference or natural resources, preserved a more ancient way of life among the Aborigines and worked to prevent the formation of centralized empire and its resultant accelerated arms race. The throwstick was certainly not the only factor, just one possible ingredient in a list of them which transported the ancient Aboriginal cultures into the 20th century in primitive form, and into their eventual and bloody conflict with European colonization and the deadly modern weapons that came with that.
Regardless as to the answers to any debate on these subjects, the Aboriginal throwstick truly is a fascinating relic. For me it stands as a symbol of personal independence and a more simple world from a more simple time. Ironically, though something of "primitive" origin, it actually exhibits flight characteristics which make it seemingly defy the laws of gravity. Modern physicists cannot decode all of its secrets, and only a few people on the planet have learned how to properly make them. So the throwstick's true brilliance and complexities, passed down through the generations from father to son are a reminder to me as a researcher on this topic, that "primitive peoples' were not really primitive at all. It was the primitive thinking which classified them as "primitives" which led to their murder and even their being stuffed and placed in museums alongside their throwsticks. They were advanced thinkers who were set in different circumstances from the dominant ones of history. Throwsticks are now a great way to connect with the outdoors, and with the past.
5. Can A Throwstick Be Used For Self Defense?
Yes, in addition to other functions, throwsticks were historically used for hand to hand fighting by Aborigines. A polycarbonate throwstick is a fast and effective blunt force weapon, capable of blocking a straight on strike from a sword and delivering bone breaking blows in return. Throwsticks are best used in reverse position with the curved portion of the grip filling the palm for a more comfortable grip. The hooked throwstick or "wirlki" offers the added advantage of the powerful hook on the end which can deliver a tremendous blow or be used for trapping maneuvers.
We highly recommend the book,The Ultimate Guide to Weapons Use and Defense, by David Erath Jr. as a great reference on how to use throwsticks and similar weapons for self defense. We do not recommend throwing a throwstick for self defense in most scenarios, as this may do little more than arm your opponent, who may dodge out of the way of your throw. Except at close ranges, most humans can dodge out of the way of any hand thrown object.
1. How Do I Properly Throw My Throwstick?
The above, brief video covers all the basics you need to know. We highly recommend the hammer grip over the extended grip for anyone wanting to achieve long ranges. A kylie must spin rapidly in order for its mechanism to operate properly. This spin should feel natural when one throws with a stiff wrist and snaps the kylie into a crisp release. A focus on forward velocity and throwing with the arm as one would do when skipping a rock across a lake, will not work with a kylie. Kylies are thrown with a rotation of the torso, not with the arm alone. Throwing at high velocities at the expense of the spin on the kylie will inevitably be counterproductive to long range acheivements.
Wrist alignment is also important. If the wrist isn't aligned at release, then the kylie will tend to jump up or down, experiencing a brief moment of significant drag right out of the gate until it corrects its attitude and continues flying. Maximal range will be limited somewhat by this error in alignment, but a well made kylie has a remarkable ability to compensate for user error and still keep on going. We've even see kylies keep flying to their target after clipping small branches on their journey there.
Breezy conditions will significantly affect your results. Be aware of this. If you throw up wind your kylie will rise and climb, and if downwind, it will lose altitude. You can compensate for this by throwing with more or less force, but do not expect your kylie to behave in the breeze as it would in still conditions. Kylies are airpeed dependent instruments.
If you have other questions related to throwing technique, let us know and we will discuss them below.
2. How Do I Care For My Throwstick?
Not much is required given how tough these things are. Avoid leaving it on the dash of your car in high temperatures, yet polycarbonate it stable at a wide range of temperatures and can take a lot of abuse so don't worry too much. Don't throw your throwstick at sharp or hard objects on purpose. Don't aggressively try to warp or bend your throwstick or you may possibly change the tuning. Moderate bending won't harm it at all, so no worries there. If it develops a dent from a hard impact on a sharp/hard object, you may hammer this out to a degree on an anvil. Avoid using a rasp or sandpaper on your kylie or you may change the tuning. If the paint scratches or wears off, send it back to us and we'll repaint it for you for a reasonable price. Dot art repair is extra of course. Just use common sense and you should be good.
3. How Do You Suggest I Acquire Accuracy?
Relax, use consistent and comfortable form, and throw where you are aiming. If you focus only on form but not your target, you won't do as well as if you focus on your target more than form. Pay attention to your hands. If they are moist then something to give you a consistent slip will be helpful. During the summer I just use dirt. If the throwstick hangs up in your hand, then you'll end up throwing to the left. Chalk can be used to enhance grip if needed. Experiment with choking up on the stick slightly if you release too early. Start with the basics and then practice. Practice goes much better if you have multiple sticks, so purchase a couple of the same model and you'll get more throws in before your walk. But enjoy yourself and relax. That's what's most important. Connect with the outdoors, your body and the laws of physics. Don't expect perfection and you will go far. This is not a pinpoint accurate weapon for most people, but it will do the job if used correctly. Even Michael Jordan missed a few baskets. Remember to warm up first. The first throw of the day is usually a bad one for me, so I start off closer to my target and move back as I warm up. Practice, practice, practice. Have fun. Daily practice in small sessions is better than weekly practice in big sessions.
4. What Targets Do You Suggest?
First, Memphis Net And Twine sells excellent custom made sport nets for a good price. This is ideal if you want to get serious with throwsticks, and targets may be hung directly on the net. We like those thin disposable aluminum pie pans, but just about anything interesting can be a good target for a kylie.
Another fun option is to use large pliable plastic garbage cans. These can be stacked on top of each other and are fun targets. I've used plywood but it tends to get broken up fairly quickly unless it is thick and has solid borders screwed around the edges. Be creative, there are lots of fun and safe targets to throw your kylie at. Avoid metal targets which can damage the kylie.