Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Spear vs. Javelin Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Alain D.





Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 81

PostPosted: Mon 07 Sep, 2009 8:33 pm    Post subject: Spear vs. Javelin         Reply with quote

I've never actually handled good examples of either spears or javelins and I'm wondering what the differences between the two are. I know that javelins are generally lighter than true spears, but the difference between a throwing spear and javelin is unclear to me. It seems to me like a heavier spear would be easier to throw due to the extra heft, but I'm only speculating. I'm interested in the A&A Viking spear and their javelin examples for throwing. Would their spears be appropriate for throwing (construction-wise or history-wise) or are their javelins better suited for this purpose? I'm thinking of a good, general example of a Medieval infantry weapon that could be used for thrusting or throwing and stand up to the abuse of practice.

Thanks

-Alain
View user's profile Send private message
Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Mon 07 Sep, 2009 11:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Javelin is essentially a very short and light spear meant for throwing. I think I even saw something that looked like fletched javelins depicted in 14. or 15. century European paintings, but I am not really sure about it, please somebody correct me if I am wrong. One can thrust with a javelin if he has no better weapon, but it is a very good idea to have a normal spear, an axe or a sword in hand by the time the enemy gets close. Javelins were often small and light enough for a warrior to hold several in his shield hand.

Spear is longer and heavier than javelin. While javelin heads were optimized for thrusting, some spears could also effectively cut. Most if not all spears can be thrown. But because they are much heavier than javelins throwing distance is also considerably shorter. Actually knights threw their spears in duels. And I think some fighting manuals clearly say that one can either throw his spear or thrust with it, thus confirming that it was an ordinary spear, not a javelin (and pictures also confirm this).
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,307

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a lot of gray area and overlap between javelins and spears! (Heck, even more than between daggers and short swords...) Some spears are clearly not meant to be thrown, being larger and heavier. Or boar spears, for example, with a crossbar. But a lot of surviving spearheads are surprisingly small, and were probably used for throwing or thrusting as needed. There are points which are clearly larger than arrowheads which are most likely javelins, but of course even those could be used for thrusting.

Javelins are not necessarily a lot shorter than spears. Roman auxiliaries are often shown with a pair of 6-foot throwing spears called lanceae, which have throwing loops on the shaft, but they are obviously sturdy enough to be used as spears if necessary. Much depends on the thickness of the shaft, and the sockets of surviving Roman points are most often around 3/4-inch. Very slim!

So it's really a sliding scale, with "spear" at one end and "javelin" at the other. In between, hard to tell for sure!

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,435

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would imagine "pike" would be on one end, with javelin on the other -- spears are squarely in the center. I've always wanted to throw a spear, to see how brutal that could be.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger ICQ Number
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,205

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 2:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
There is a lot of gray area and overlap between javelins and spears!

Heh. It is hard enough to tell the difference between a spear/javelin head and an arrow head. Often it can't be done.
View user's profile Send private message
M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,435

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm guessing this is why they're referred to by the generic word "point" ?

M.

This space for rent or lease.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger ICQ Number
Alain D.





Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 81

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 6:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses. That's sort of what I thought, but I've seen period artwork analyzed as portraying specifically spears and javelins. It sounds like it's simply a matter of interpretation.

Would an A&A Viking spear be appropriate for throwing? Or is that too heavy/large? Like, would a Viking have typically thrown that type of spear? Or did they have smaller "javelins" reserved for throwing? I understand that pretty much any spear, or almost any weapon for that matter, could be thrown, but was it practical and done on a regular basis during battle?
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,180

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alain D. wrote:
Thanks for the responses. That's sort of what I thought, but I've seen period artwork analyzed as portraying specifically spears and javelins. It sounds like it's simply a matter of interpretation.

Would an A&A Viking spear be appropriate for throwing? Or is that too heavy/large? Like, would a Viking have typically thrown that type of spear? Or did they have smaller "javelins" reserved for throwing? I understand that pretty much any spear, or almost any weapon for that matter, could be thrown, but was it practical and done on a regular basis during battle?


I think the A & A can be thrown effectively if the range is short and the weight would make it very effective if you hit the target.

At close range it's easier to hit the target and the target has a lot less time to see it coming and dodge it.

Also a spear can be held in a throwing/overhead hold with a shield and be used for thrusting but one can surprise an opponent at close range by throwing it.

One might still be able to throw the A & A a fair distance rather than just at very close range but it would be better to have a couple of light javelins to throw and keep the spear for close work ?

If a good opportunity presents itself in a melee one might throw one's spear at someone otherwise engaged fighting someone else on one's own side ...... in an I'll keep him busy while you throw your spear kind of thing ???

I can see a team approach where two or more fighters would train so as to cooperate in taking down single opponents one at a time: Not very sporting, but in battle as opposed to duels there are no rules " usually " if it's real war and not some sort of " sporting " combat.

Oh, more practice would make a difference as I tried throwing a heavy spear without first warming up and since my technique was probably poor it felt like I was going to dislocate my shoulder ! Either accelerating the spear too suddenly or just not used to it. This wouldn't be a problem for anyone trained in throwing a spear I think.

Just mentioned the above so that you go easy with your first throws to avoid injuries.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Alain D.





Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 81

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 7:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice Jean. Are there exercises that would improve spear-throwing ability / technique?
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,180

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 8:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alain D. wrote:
Thanks for the advice Jean. Are there exercises that would improve spear-throwing ability / technique?


Well throwing a ball of the approximate weight might help but the best is usually to throw the spear or a spear weighted simulator ( Stick with a weight at the end maybe ).

I would simply throw it with very little force at first and then slowly increase the force until it started to be a strain: Over time one should get better at it as one gets stronger and the body adapts.

Trying for maximum power or range at first too soon is a good way to get hurt or get discouraged.

Oh, you might try to train left handed as well as right handed throws just because it's useful to balance one's training on both sides of the body and who knows in a fight in period one might have to throw with the off hand if one was wounded or if one just grabbed a spear with the off hand and had no time to switch hands ?

One would still favour one's strong side but it's useful to be at least competent using the off hand in as many ways as possible. Wink

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
Joined: 27 May 2011

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec, 2011 7:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:
Javelin is essentially a very short and light spear meant for throwing. I think I even saw something that looked like fletched javelins depicted in 14. or 15. century European paintings, but I am not really sure about it, please somebody correct me if I am wrong. .


I saw such a painting, it's down the page a ways, but is this what you were talking about?

http://www.wolfeargent.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb...p;t=000001
View user's profile Send private message
Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 447

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec, 2011 9:14 pm    Post subject: ball& javelin         Reply with quote

Jean.
with all due respect, the worst thing one can do is practise with a ball. The natural wrist movement with a ball goes against the linear release one needs in throwing a javelin. The natural spin you give on a ball will twist the javelin and impede its' flight.
To practise javelin, you really need to have a javelin in hand, and the treatment will be different if you are seeking distance from that if you are seeking short range ( 10 to 15 yards) precision.

Bon coeur et bon bras
View user's profile Send private message
David Hohl




Location: Oregon
Joined: 07 Feb 2011

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec, 2011 11:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can get a start on the idea of throwing a spear just by throwing a broom handle, weight at the end or not - The weight affects how it flies at long range, and certainly how it hits, but as long as you're holding it near the balance point the mechanics of throwing are similar. It can be a real challenge to keep the spear in line with your throw, as wrist movement during your release can make the spear 'drift' instead of facing in the direction it's going. It's definitely a learned skill that takes plenty of practice, and there are at least as many ways to throw a spear as there are to throwing a knife, or a ball, or anything really.

Incidentally, I think the small fletched spears mentioned earlier would be called 'darts'. The fletching helps keep them in line, especially at long distances.
View user's profile Send private message
Brian Downing




Location: Charlotte, NC
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have the A&A Viking spear as well as several others. It has been a while, but I have thrown it before. It did go a decent distance. I have a short shafted spear with a Cold Steel assegai head that seems to throw better. I have never really tried to throw either spear for distance. Hope this helps.

Brian
View user's profile Send private message
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think there are some javelin, large darts that are very much specialized for throwing and not so effective for melee hand to hand fighting. That said as Matt said a great deal of overlap.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,180

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
I think there are some javelin, large darts that are very much specialized for throwing and not so effective for melee hand to hand fighting. That said as Matt said a great deal of overlap.

RPM


The small A&A throwing javelins seem rather light and I haven't thrown them at anything ..... not very practical in the house. Wink

Too dangerous at a local park ( Actual risks of causing injury not to mention drawing the wrong kind of attention ).

So even though I have had them for a few years the opportunity to try then out hasn't presented itself.

I do wonder about how effective such a light javelin would have against even minimal armour ? Seems that they would be too light but then I might be surprised and that they would be very effective.

Certainly some javelins are bigger and heavier but the smaller one'se are probably meant to be carried in multiples.

http://www.arms-n-armor.com/pole214.html ( NOTE: On a food scale I get 12 oz. )

Greek Javelin, seems to have a slightly longer head:

http://www.arms-n-armor.com/pole227.html

Note: Just noticed a link on the A&A Javelin page that might be interesting to look at about throwing techniques

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,180

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 7:09 am    Post subject: Re: ball& javelin         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:
Jean.
with all due respect, the worst thing one can do is practise with a ball. The natural wrist movement with a ball goes against the linear release one needs in throwing a javelin. The natural spin you give on a ball will twist the javelin and impede its' flight.
To practise javelin, you really need to have a javelin in hand, and the treatment will be different if you are seeking distance from that if you are seeking short range ( 10 to 15 yards) precision.


Oh, with the ball I was only thinking of accelerating an equal mass but you bring up a good point that a large part of successfully throwing a javelin or a spear is to not impart a spin or a sudden jerk at release.

With my very minimal number of attempts, the first few and worse throws, had the spear flying out with the point very much downward and sticking into the ground almost just in front of me ! A smooth release being essential as it is with throwing knives if one want then to fly point forward with the javelins or with a natural spin with the throwing knives

So I agree the best way to train is with the real thing and training with a ball wouldn't help at all with learning to have a good release.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!


Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Fri 02 Dec, 2011 8:17 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Gary Teuscher





Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 704

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have read that the Welsh would throw their spears in combat in the Welsh wars.

Their spears seem to have been rather long, so it seems any spear might be thrown if the situation was right,
View user's profile Send private message
Brett White




Location: Brisbane Australia
Joined: 06 Sep 2008
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 1:47 pm    Post subject: Re: ball& javelin         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:
Jean.
with all due respect, the worst thing one can do is practise with a ball. The natural wrist movement with a ball goes against the linear release one needs in throwing a javelin. The natural spin you give on a ball will twist the javelin and impede its' flight.
To practise javelin, you really need to have a javelin in hand, and the treatment will be different if you are seeking distance from that if you are seeking short range ( 10 to 15 yards) precision.


Oh, with the ball I was only thinking of accelerating an equal mass but you bring up a good point that a large part of successfully throwing a javelin or a spear is to not impart a spin or a sudden jerk at release.

With my very minimal number of attempts, the first few and worse throws, had the spear flying out with the point very much downward and sticking into the ground almost just in front of me ! A smooth release being essential as it is with throwing knives if one want then to fly point forward with the javelins or with a natural spin with the throwing knives

So I agree the best way to train is with the real thing and training with a ball wouldn't help at all with learning to have a good release.


Certainly throwing a round ball does not help much but I have found that mastering throwing a ball the way they do in American football quite good practice for throwing the javelin and the spear. In many ways I have found that the football is actually more difficult to get straight as it is so much shorter.

"My sword has deus vault engraved on the blade, his has sharp end toward enemy." -Ash a secret history.
View user's profile Send private message
Jeff A. Arbogast





Joined: 16 Oct 2008

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 4:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Spear vs. Javelin         Reply with quote

Alain D. wrote:
I've never actually handled good examples of either spears or javelins and I'm wondering what the differences between the two are. I know that javelins are generally lighter than true spears, but the difference between a throwing spear and javelin is unclear to me. It seems to me like a heavier spear would be easier to throw due to the extra heft, but I'm only speculating. I'm interested in the A&A Viking spear and their javelin examples for throwing. Would their spears be appropriate for throwing (construction-wise or history-wise) or are their javelins better suited for this purpose? I'm thinking of a good, general example of a Medieval infantry weapon that could be used for thrusting or throwing and stand up to the abuse of practice.

Thanks

-Alain


Hi Alain,
For what it's worth, I have two of A&A's Latvian javelins. I throw them from time to time and I've posted on here myself asking for any input. Over a year plus I've gotten fairly good at consistently hitting what i consider the center area of an opponent (a cardboard box stuffed with styrofoam and mounted on a tree at the appropriate height. I can hit it pretty regularly with hard enough an impact to completely bury the head and sometimes penetrate all the way through at a distance of about twenty-five feet. I can go out to thirty or a bit more but the added force I must use does sometimes cause my throw to go awry. I use a pencil grip for accuracy and throw as straight and evenly overhand with as much force as I can muster while still staying accurate. A few warm-up hits were out on the edges, but once I hit my stride they were mostly in what I consider the "kill' zone. It really does take some practice though. These javelins are really light. They ain't weighted Roman pilum, and wind WILL catch them if you try to hurl them long distances through the air in a falling arc. My opinion is that these were meant to be thrown at a relatively short distance with a very flat trajectory, like at a range of twenty to thirty feet right before the lines closed. They just aren't heavy enough for much else. I suppose it is possible to throw them longer distances, but not with any accuracy, and I personally think that they wouldn't do much damage to anyone but the most lightly protected. But up close they would get someone's attention I think.
I am left-handed, so I throw that way. A previous poster is right, if you try to throw it like a ball you will do poorly. I learned that myself. It doesn't work. I found that a straight linear overhand cast with my right foot planted forward as the cast is made (being left-handed) with a pencil grip works best for me. I think it hits hard enough to matter at that distance. That seems to be what works for me anyway. I think these are very short-range weapons, not meant for flinging long distances.
Oh by the way-I also have A&A's 12th Century spear. You don't wanna throw that. WAY too heavy. I even had them put a spike on the bottom of mine. Great for planting in the ground to impale horses like Braveheart (haha), but too heavy to throw unless you're Hercules.
Finally, I guess in a pinch you could use these like a spear, but I'd be in pretty dire straights if I had to use one of these against an opponent with a sword, axe, mace, or a REAL spear.

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Spear vs. Javelin
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum