Weapons and Hunting
Some evenings will be spent making weapons. Weapons are either close range or long range.
Useful Close ranged weapons
Spears can be made by fire hardening a wooden pole. A dual spear made from a forked stout branch will make an excellent fishing tool. Of course it is more prone to breakage. Spearing in water is difficult. You don't aim at the fish. The water bends the image through refraction. Fish traps are way easier, but of course, take time. Somebody will catch a carp this way, and be proud of themselves until they eat it.
You know a good recipe for carp? You take cow manure and rub it all over carp. You bake it in the coals, then you eat the burnt cow manure, because carp takes worse than crap.
Spear ends can be artificially flint-knapped with discarded glass. They hold up well for a few uses.
[link to www.youtube.com
It reguires someone with common sense to produce since obviously a bad laceration can result. You'll need something like a deerskin for your work area, an old stump, a tool made of a branch and a piece of copper stuck in it, and the glass blanks. An excellent skill to learn. Of course, you'll progress to more advanced real flint-knapping, but that is a highly advanced skill.
As you can imagine, something as simple as a stout knife or hatchet will make a great weapon.
The Native Americans made war clubs. [link to www.seahawkauctions.com
] That is a very excellently made club. Note the branch, and how it was fashioned using the natural and very common branch section. It is way easier to fashion something that is close to this, that to try to make something from scratch that looks nothing like it. Obviously, your hands are going to be really blistered unless you're used to making things.
The first ranged weapon other than a spear or javelin is the sling. Anyone can make a sling. You need two things, an old leather belt, and some cordage (there's that dang word again!). [link to www.youtube.com
] The simplest ones are made totally of cordage. I like old belts. One end of the sling has a loop for your middle finger. The other has a knot. You control the knot slipping through or releasing them. You're hurling it overhand. It is a harassing weapon mostly. It is far more efficient to make a sling and hurl smooth rocks than make lots of spears or javelins. Good luck hitting a running rabbit with one.
If you're hunting rabbit, the easiest way is a throwing stick. [link to www.youtube.com
] Do not dismiss this method. It will work, especially around 5 am, just when the sun comes up, when you come upon a rabbit, and they freeze up. That would be a blessed day. A rabbit for the pot, easily taken. The stick doesn't kill them, it stuns them, so you must quickly dispatch them by snapping their neck. It requires a lot of practice, is very silent, and remarkably effective at pretty close range. Don't make the stick too heavy, an inch in diameter and strong and smooth. Any twists to the stick will result in an eccentric cast, so have a lick of sense, and find a straight one. You'll use this one a lot, and get used to throwing that one, getting used to the weight, the heft of it. The hardest thing is not letting out a whoop of delight as the simplicity of it as a hunting method. You might get another one if silent. Rabbit tastes great, but it is low fat, and you'll get less calories than you're used to. You might want to east fat rich organs, but this is hard unless hungry. I don't like sweetbreads, but in stew, few people notice.
Bolos can be made with cordage and smooth rocks. They can work, but are actually trickier to fling than a throwing stick.
For people who are creative, the next step is an atl-atl. Search for it. I've never made one. I've used one, and though it was amazing as it directs the flight of the bolt, and is not too hard to cast. Pretty nifty. Everything else mentioned to date are things I've actually accomplished.
Bows and arrows should be brought along. Bow making is an advanced skill. Re-fletching is something you'll do constantly. A Native American style bow requires a lot of time to craft, you need material like tendons to make the laminations to enhance the curve of the bow. That kind of bow is very short range versus a modern recurve bow.
If I did risk going to buy last minute items, I'd buy a good bow and arrow set.
I'm guessing that a lot of people have never used a ranged weapon in their lives. It is not difficult, just reframing your thinking. Each of us is born with one eye being dominant. Hold out your thumb at arm's length and stare at the tip of your thumb. Close you left eye. Did the tip move or not? If it didn't, then you are right-eyed. Close your right eye only, doing the same thing. If it doesn't move in this case, then you are left-eyed.
When you shoot your ranged weapon, you want to sight it using your dominant eye, and accounting for windage, and the decline in its momentum and gravity. All hurled projectiles move in an arc. Gravity pulls it down. A decline in momentum bring it down. Wind changes the flight characteristics. Aiming with the dominant eye focuses the brain to work in harmony with the arm to aim it.
If the wind is behind you, your projectile will go further forward. If the wind is blowing across you, then the projectile path will be slightly altered in the wind's direction. If the wind is blowing towards you, most likely you will miss. That wind will reduce the velocity, alter the flight path, and be interfering with your aim.
If the wind is behind you, the animal can smell you. If you haven't bathed in days, then obviously they can easily smell you. Descenting with Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap or natural peppermint, as well as bagging your clothes with dirt, all help.
Shooting uphill with a low velocity ranged weapon will result in a altered arc of the projectile. Shooting downhill is easier as the arc goes further before hitting the ground.