World Atlatl Association Event Calendar

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WAA Organizer's Packet









From:  Regina Dodson, Executive Secretary

Debbie Andrews, Executive Secretary 5/16



The following items are attached to this note:


I.    Current ISAC rules

II.   Policy on Disruptive or Unsafe Behavior

III.  Appendix

            A.  Statement of Intent for Interpreting the ISAC Rules

            B.  Guidelines for Dealing with Disruptive or Unsafe Behavior

            C.  Duties of the Score Keeper

            D.  WAA Safety Guidelines


1.   ISAC Score sheet

2.   WAA Policy Statement regarding Cash Awards

3.   WAA Policy Statement regarding Sponsoring or Sanctioning contests.

4.   Sample “Waiver of Liability” Statement

5.   Grand Champion Award Letter and application form

6.   Article on Target Backing

7.   Safety/Conduct Poster


All of the materials listed above have been developed by the World Atlatl Association to advise and help the organizers of atlatl events.  The WAA is pleased to support your atlatl event in this way.





Regina Dodson

Debbie Andrews 5/16





While in the pursuit of its stated objectives of encouraging the use, practice, competition, and perpetuation of the atlatl spear thrower as an ancient hunting weapon and as a modern sporting device, the WAA strives to promote safety and good sportsmanship for events employing the atlatl.


The WAA was established a list of safety guidelines for atlatl use and makes that list available to event organizers.


The WAA feels that awards, trophies, and/or certificates that acknowledge the excellence of competition have a positive effect on sportsmanship in atlatl events.  On the other hand, the WAA discourages the use of cash prizes in atlatl competition.  Cash prizes are believed to be detrimental to good sportsmanship and to have a negative effect on the sport in general.


The award of cash prizes in connection with the International Standard Accuracy Contest (ISAC) is strictly forbidden.  The results of any ISAC employing cash prizes will not be accepted.  The results of any previously recorded ISAC that is later discovered to have employed cash prizes will be removed from the WAA records.


The scores from any ISAC are not to be used in any aggregate scoring system of other atlatl contest or events.


Courtney Birkett


World Atlatl Association







There has been some confusion expressed by some of the members and outside organizations regarding the role of The World Atlatl Association (WAA) at the various atlatl tournaments across the country.  It is important to note that the WAA does not “sponsor” or “sanction” any atlatl tournament or contest.  It was necessary for the organization to take this position due to the potential liability associated with such events and was duly approved by the membership present at the Annual Meeting in Radium, Colorado on July 3, 1994.


What the WAA does provide is:


A forum through THE ATLATL, our newspaper, to advertise a contest or event, and then report the results of the contest.


Advice and help to the organizers/sponsors of a contest, if requested, to setting up a course, keeping scores, monitoring safety, etc.


Materials such as contest rules, safety rules, score sheets and liability statements, and a WAA plaque to be presented to the top thrower in a contest.  This award is given as an incentive to organizers/sponsors who use and adhere to a strict set of safety rules.


The greatest asset in the WAA organization is the membership.  It is your love of the atlatl, and wanting to share the knowledge that provides the mission for the organization.  We want to preserve this. As we all participate in these organized contests, keep in mind the role of the WAA and BE SAFE.








Event: _____________________________________   Date:______________________


I understand that all atlatl event arrangements, terms and conditions have been established in good faith.  I have read and agree to abide by the WAA Safety Guidelines and Code of Behavior.  I understand that no matter how well planned, there may be inherent risks and dangers in conjunction with atlatl activities.  I accept personal responsibility for these risks and dangers, and any resultant injuries to person and property; and hereby release The World Atlatl Association, their member organizers, related parties, successors and assigns from all liability resulting from my participation in this event.


I, the undersigned, agree to the above conditions.  If the participant is under the age of 16, his/her parent or guardian must also sign this waiver.


            Name (Print)                                       Signature                                 Date


________________________        __________________________      ______________


_________________________       _________________________       _______________


_________________________       __________________________      ______________


_________________________       __________________________      ______________


_________________________       __________________________       ______________


_________________________       __________________________       ______________


_________________________       __________________________       ______________

Signature of Parent/Guardian (if appropriate)___________________________________


Print Name___________________________________


Address______________________________________   Date:____________________



During this atlatl event, all participants are expected to maintain high standards of honor, morality and integrity.  The WAA fully supports the rules and regulations of the host or sponsoring party or parties.  They are to abstain from the use of substances that could impair their physical and/or mental abilities during the contest. In addition, participants must recognize the needs and privacy of others, allow for personal differences, and follow the WAA Safety Guidelines.  Any person not adhering to this code of Behavior may be asked to leave the contest and/or premises.  KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS IS A FAMILY EVENT, SO PLEASE ACT ACCORDINGLY.   Thank you.











Debbie Andrews

2041 Reynolds Ave., Albany, OH 45710

(740) 698-7131




FROM:  Debbie Andrews, Executive Secretary


The World Atlatl Association provides a GRAND CHAMPION AWARD, at no cost to contest organizers.   This is intended to recognize the skill of the first place winners in all three divisions: Men, Women, and Youth (under 16) from either one designated contest or from accumulated high scores in multiple contests during a single weekend atlatl event.  ISAC scores may not be included.  A final Throw-Off is mandatory to choose the Grand Champion from the division winners and should consist of no fewer than five throws.  The throws can be from one distance or multiple distances.  The organizer can handicap the distances, as needed, so that women and youth are not penalized.


An application form is included with this letter and must be signed and returned to the above address.  The award is a 3 ¼” by 4 ¾” brass plate, black with gold WAA logo and lettering.  The plate may be affixed to a wood plaque and another small plate can be added with the date and location of the contest.


The Board of Directors of the WAA is pleased to support your atlatl contest in this way and hope that this will promote interest in the WAA as well as encourage perpetuation of the atlatl as a modern sporting device.


We look forward to hearing from you and receiving your signed statement to follow the Safety Guidelines.  If you have further questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.





                                                            Debbie Andrews
















Debbie Andrews, Executive Secretary
2041 Reynolds Ave., Albany, OH 45710   (740) 698-7131 or (740) 541-4036




The undersigned is the organizer and/or sponsor of an atlatl contest to be held on



and agrees to conduct the contest in the manner set forth in the WORLD ATLATL ASSOCIATION SAFETY GUIDELINES.   By signing this agreement, it is understood that the organizer will receive a GRAND CHAMPION AWARD from the World Atlatl Association to be presented to the winning contestant.





Authorized signature and title________________________________________________


Date Signed________________











Target Backings for the ISAC

Lloyd Pine


The purpose of this document is to discuss several different types of target backing currently being used for the ISAC.  It is hoped that this information will help contest organizers to provide suitable backings for their events.  I have had a lot of help in developing this information.  This is not an exhaustive list and is in no way to be considered a list of “approved” backings.  There is no perfect system and any system can at times bounce a well thrown dart for no apparent reason.  Contest organizers are encouraged to come up with new and better ways of providing suitable targets for their contests.



This is the traditional way of supporting targets for atlatl contests and is well liked by many.  The small square bales can often be borrowed or rented rather than purchased for a contest and they do not require any equipment to handle them.  Unless enough bales are available to make a self supporting pile, the bales themselves must be supported in some way.  The rules require that the center of the target be between 80 and 110 cm. above ground level.  This in turn requires a stack that is at least four bales high, depending on whether the bales are laid flat or on edge.  Posts driven into the ground behind the bales with the bales tied to them is the usual way of supporting this stack.  With 12 bales they can be stacked using two bales forming the face with a third bale perpendicular to those two to provide support.  


Any target backing should be stacked to provide as smooth a face as possible for the cardboard target.  Bounces are more apt to happen when the target does not fit tightly against the backing.


There is no consensus as to which part of the bale should face the throwing line.  Some say that it makes no difference.  Others believe that the ends are the most likely to give problems with the darts sticking.  Most seem to believe that when a dart bounces off of a bale setting on edge it is due to the dart hitting one of the strings that bind the bale so they prefer laying the bales flat.


The ends of the large round bales make excellent target backing.  However, these bales are so heavy that they require special equipment to handle them.  For a permanent set up they can be put on a wood frame to keep them off of the ground and covered with a tarp when not in use.  Under these conditions they have a very long life and could be worth the initial expense.  The same can be said for the very large square bales.



This target system is cheap, simple, and can be quite portable.  The main requirement is that the target backing be of at least two layers of cardboard glued together with the grain, or corrugations, in each layer perpendicular to each other.  A single layer of cardboard is not sufficient to prevent a poorly thrown dart from passing through the target partially sideways making an elongated hole that can cut across several scoring rings.  Since corrugated cardboard is not of standard strength, it may at times take three layers to prevent this problem.  Four layers is usually too much and will start bouncing weakly thrown darts.  The actual target can be drawn on the cardboard or the commercial cardboard target can be one of the layers.


The glued layers of cardboard need some type of support.  A frame made of wood (I like 1” by 4” with edges facing the throwing line) can be designed that is portable and reasonably durable.  Plastic plumbing pipe is totally unsuitable.  I made a target frame of 2” pipe and it did not survive the first hit. To improve durability, the front edges of the wood frame can be covered with pieces of old garden hose.


This system has an undeserved reputation for being hard on fletching.  I used a throw through target for about six years for practice and threw at it thousands of times.  The two things that are hardest on darts with this system are hitting the frame and the darts hitting the ground behind the target where there are lots of rocks.  At that time I was using both cane and willow darts with either plastic or goose feather fletching.  I also threw a lot with some of Bill Tate’s darts with plastic fletching.  My theory is that the natural flexing, or yawing, of the dart makes the hole oversize enough that the fletching is not stressed very much.  I don’t know if turkey fletching would wear as well as goose with this target.  However, a day of competition on this target should not significantly affect dart life.



This is a very popular backing.  It is relatively cheap, portable, and wears well.  All of the semi-rigid foam presently being used by WAA members is manufactured by the Voltec Company in Coldwater, Michigan.  It is intended for use either as insulation or packing.  The pieces being purchased from Dancing Bear Archery, also in Coldwater, for target backing are all seconds and vary widely in their properties.  I have been told that there can even be a wide range of properties within a single piece.  This poses some real problems for the purchaser.  At present we have no good information to use as a guide to selecting suitable pieces.  Color is definitely not a good guide.  Most of the backing in use that has been acceptable has been white.  However, Mark Bracken bought some white foam pieces in early 2001 that were totally unsatisfactory.  Intuitively it seems like density would be a useful guide.  However, there is no agreement as to whether higher or lower density is the better.  This lack of consensus may be due to people basing their conclusions on experiences with backings having totally different properties.


Once the backing has been purchased and tested and found to be suitable, it needs to be cared for properly.  The main thing is to store it flat and out of the light.  This means either inside storage or covering it to prevent UV degradation.


The major problem with this backing is that, with wear, it can start bouncing even well thrown darts.  Because the wear is centered in the middle of the target, it is mostly nines and tens that are bounced.  My own personal practice target started doing this after about a year of heavy use.  Changing the way the backing was supported in the target frame did not help.  The bouncing started after the foam backing started to become convex toward the throwing line.  Turning the backing over and throwing at the other side has relieved this problem.  It is not certain that all of the different backings in use will have this problem.  However, it is recommended that if a piece of foam starts to become convex from use on one side that it be turned in order to help prevent any lost throws due to the darts not sticking.  A complete report of the tests that I made with my target backing is posted on the web site or I can mail a copy to those interested.


It should be emphasized that although a target drawn on the foam backing is great for practice, a target drawn or printed on cardboard must me used in formal competition.  This target needs to fit tightly against the backing to minimize bounces.


The Michigan group has a neat way of supporting this semi-rigid backing.  Half inch round stock is sharpened on  one end.  A 1 x 4 inch  piece of flat stock is welded to the round stock 12 inches above the sharpened end to form a tee.  The flat stock is used to push the support into the ground by just stepping on it.  The flat stock is pointed toward the throwing line and holds the foam backing off of the ground.  Two three and one half inch eyebolts are screwed into the back of the foam and slipped over the two supports to hold it firmly in place.  This system is durable, easy to set up, and very portable.



This system is used by both Kim Wee and Jim Dickson and is cheap, portable, and reasonably durable.  The heart of the target is 2” thick foam insulation that is sold in 4X8 ft. sheets at local building supply houses.  The soft white foam made from small foam particles of polystyrene bonded together will work but is not as durable as the sealed cell foam sheets that are usually pink or blue in color. The rigid foam is glued between two pieces of cardboard with water based glue.  Jim uses a water based vinyl floor glue.  It is necessary to have cardboard on both front and back of the foam for the target to be durable.  Jim also takes an additional step of sealing the cardboard with a clear product called Varithane to protect the target against rain.  I can only buy 1” thick foam in Louisiana.  I have glued two 1” pieces together to make the 2” thickness but I don’t know that this is necessary.  I have found that a 1” piece between two pieces of cardboard is quite durable.  The key to making a good target from this material is to make sure that there is complete coverage of the glue on the foam before laying on the cardboard.. 


Since this is a rigid target backing it is easy to support.  Ken ties the sandwich tightly between two posts driven into the ground.  Jim uses a light wood frame with 16 inch legs and support braces from the top of the frame to the ground behind the target.  Since there is a lot of wind in Alaska, they have eyebolts in both the legs and support braces so the target can by pinned to the ground.



















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