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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Throwing A & A's Latvian javelin         Reply with quote

I have a question regarding throwing A & A's Latvian javelin. I have absolutely NO experience with this thing, so it's all been trial and error for me. At first I thought it would be a snap. I quickly found out that it's not. For instance, I tend to throw side-arm, which didn't work at all. Second, I am left-handed. So, after much experimentation and bungling, I found the following technique to be pretty effective, at least for me. I would hold the javelin much like a large pencil, either in the middle or slightly towards the rear. I would turn halfway to my left (being left-handed) take a strong forward step with my right foot and hurl the javelin overhand in as controlled and steady cast as I can manage. It has taken me many hours (but fun hours-it's very addicting) of practice to get anywhere near reliably accurate, but I can now confidently say that I can strike near the center of my homemade target (six layers of cardboard nailed to a tree) every time at a distance of twenty feet. I am also pretty good out to thirty feet, but sometimes the extra effort to cast the extra distance makes me slightly less accurate. But I am getting better. I think I could strike the torso of a man reliably out to thirty feet so far hard enough to make him notice. But my question is this-does this sound like a way this javelin would be cast? It is pretty light and not very large, so it appears to be a close-quarters kind of javelin, to be hurled virtually point-blank at an approaching enemy from a very short distance. So to me twenty to thirty feet sounds a reasonable distance. Am I wrong? I can't imagine throwing it much farther, it just seems too light for that, and would probably just bounce off whatever it hit if thrown a great distance. It seems more like the Francisca, something to be thrown close in before the lines met. Anyone else throw one of these?
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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2010 4:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You might want to look into how a "sport" javelin is thrown (i.e. the technique used in the field event). While it is a "sport", this sport is as old as Greece, so I can't imagine that it would be much (if any) different. This might be one of the few times in WMA where you can get a book in the sports section of your local library or bookstore and apply directly to your art.

Steve
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Dan P




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PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2010 5:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
It is pretty light and not very large, so it appears to be a close-quarters kind of javelin, to be hurled virtually point-blank at an approaching enemy from a very short distance. So to me twenty to thirty feet sounds a reasonable distance. Am I wrong? I can't imagine throwing it much farther, it just seems too light for that, and would probably just bounce off whatever it hit if thrown a great distance.

Imagine a formation of men standing in formation and hurling javelins in a volley at another group of soldiers standing in packed ranks. Instead of throwing directly at the other line they are hurling the things in an arc. Sure they are not going to be individually accurate but still it's got a good chance of being a bad day for anyone unlucky in the target area. The javelins also pick up a bit of momentum as they reach the high part of the arc and then fall so they hit pretty hard too.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 30 Jul, 2010 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a couple of those javelins. In my experience, they're not meant to be lofted when you throw them. If you do, as you've probably seen, they don't penetrate very well. The pencil grip works decently, because it allows for a fair amount of accuracy.

However, my friend (who is more athletic than I) tends to throw them with a fist grip (for lack of a better term). He holds the javelin up so that it's roughly at the level of his ear, and then throws in a straight line at the target. The advantage to the fist grip is that it seems to afford a lot of power to the throw, which is what you'd want in battle. The disadvantage, however, is that it's fairly easy to put in too much power, causing the throw to be horribly inaccurate. Either way, you have to practice with it.

I would agree with your accessment on javelins only being close range weapons. I also think that they were meant to be used against completely unarmoured warriors- there's just no way I can imagine one of them penetrating a suit of mail- which probably explains why their usage, to my knowledge, was largely dying out by the end of the 11th century, save for the border or "fringe" regions of Europe.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 30 Jul, 2010 4:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

PS: If you think the javelins are fun, you should really consider ordering a full sized spear. I have the A&A 12th Century spear. You'll want the metal head to be affixed to the wood shaft, like the javelin is, and I think Craig J is willing to do that for a little bit extra. If not, you can do it yourself, or find someone who can. As enjoyable as the javelins are, the spear is so much more satsifying, because it impacts with a lot of authority.

Last Christmas, my friend (whose family are far away from him, so he spent Christmas with my family) and I stood out in the snow in the front yard, with a target assembled from logs used for firewood. We spent hours throwing the spear at the target until our arms were aching. It was a lot of fun.

Even my one uncle, who has never been much enamoured weapons from the Middle Ages (mostly because of the violence and oppression knights caused to the common people with them) was nevertheless outside trying has hand at throwing the spear.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jul, 2010 6:04 am    Post subject: Mornin Jeff         Reply with quote

Not sure if you have seen these but they may help some and the thong attachment will increase power and distance.

Use an amentum

Javelin Fun

As for grip, like so much of martial practice it can vary as desired result varies. For best results with most styles a relaxed and flowing throwing action will give you the best balance between power and accuracy.

Best
Craig
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Jeff A. Arbogast





Joined: 16 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jul, 2010 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
I have a couple of those javelins. In my experience, they're not meant to be lofted when you throw them. If you do, as you've probably seen, they don't penetrate very well. The pencil grip works decently, because it allows for a fair amount of accuracy.

However, my friend (who is more athletic than I) tends to throw them with a fist grip (for lack of a better term). He holds the javelin up so that it's roughly at the level of his ear, and then throws in a straight line at the target. The advantage to the fist grip is that it seems to afford a lot of power to the throw, which is what you'd want in battle. The disadvantage, however, is that it's fairly easy to put in too much power, causing the throw to be horribly inaccurate. Either way, you have to practice with it.

I would agree with your assessment on javelins only being close range weapons. I also think that they were meant to be used against completely unarmored warriors- there's just no way I can imagine one of them penetrating a suit of mail- which probably explains why their usage, to my knowledge, was largely dying out by the end of the 11th century, save for the border or "fringe" regions of Europe.


Thank you for your reply. I'm with you on how these javelins were used-despite my best efforts, I simply can't imagine them being very effective "lofted" like, say, a Roman pilum. Those javelins had integral lead weights to add heft to the impact, and no doubt to aid in bending the soft narrow iron shaft, which, if stuck in a shield, weighed it down and may have bent as well, rendering it useless to be thrown back (a pretty ingenious and well thought out weapon). These, as you say, are simply too light for that. I did experiment with a high cast and any wind at all rendered them pretty useless. I still believe, as you do, that these were close-in last minute weapons cast from a short distance. Accuracy matters more than volume with these things I think. That's why I concentrated more on short-range accuracy than distance. I also agree that it is hard to imagine them penetrating a mail coat unless thrown VERY hard at a range of only a few feet. I imagine it could SPEAR through mail if used that way, but my hardest cast would surprise me if it penetrated mail. Being a Latvian design, I would GUESS that, being a pretty poor region even by the standards of the day, most warriors there would be lucky to have a metal helm and a wooden shield, let alone a full mail coat, etc. So it may have been effective at that particular time and place, and were relatively cheap to make in volume. But thrown high, I still think they would simply doink off a well-armored warrior. Just my opinion of course, but it seems logical, based on my handling of this particular javelin. But it could be very annoying to an opponent who's not that well protected, especially if there were a lot of them flying around.
I will try the fist grip you mention. But I first want to get proficient with my pencil grip before I try a new technique. I figure if I can get as proficient at thirty feet as I am at twenty, that would probably be the range at which these things were most effective. I will try a different style and get proficient at that next and see how that goes. Nothing ever is as easy as it looks.Worried
Regarding your following post about throwing a spear-I too have A & A's 12th century spear. I did have it modified by having a pointed cup added to the base, both to protect the end of the shaft and to be able to brace it in the ground against, say, a cavalry charge, "Braveheart" style. The shaft and steel head is so thick and sturdy that this particular spear, I think, lends itself well to that sort of defensive weapon. I have little doubt that this thing could withstand a heavy cavalry charge, even if I was smashed to an unrecognizable bloody pulp in the process. I have not really considered using it as a casting weapon, but I don't doubt that the impact would be memorable. Perhaps I will take it down one day and give it a toss. It's no feather, though. Wink

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jul, 2010 4:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Mornin Jeff         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Not sure if you have seen these but they may help some and the thong attachment will increase power and distance.

Use an amentum

Javelin Fun

As for grip, like so much of martial practice it can vary as desired result varies. For best results with most styles a relaxed and flowing throwing action will give you the best balance between power and accuracy.

Best
Craig



Hello Craig,
Yes, I have seen these articles you list. Interesting stuff that perhaps I will play around with one day. I have tried to be as smooth as possible from stance to follow-through, and it does indeed make a big big difference. But if I get in a hurry or lose concentration, things quickly go awry. You have to wonder how those ancient warriors maintained their focus when their deaths were only a few feet away. We face no such stresses.

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
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P. L. Gross




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jul, 2010 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've got one of those A&A javelins too, that I mainly throw with an arcing trajectory out to about 25 yards, also using a pencil like grip almost 2/3 back from the head. I find it hits a lot harder that way. Even so, I agree armor penetration is highly unlikely at best. It may well be that the main value of these things was simply to distract the enemy and force them to bring their shields up, hopefully blocking their view of whatever else you're doing. Big Grin
A thrown spear on the other hand, will hurt a lot whether you're armored or not. I threw a windlass steelcrafts viking spearhead I'd put on a 60" ash shaft at a piece of 3/4 plywood, and the blade tip stuck an inch out the other side, at 30 feet.

-Pete

From his weapons on the open road no man should step one pace away; you don't know for certain when you're on the open road when you might have need of your spear.
-Havamal
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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jul, 2010 12:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. L. Gross wrote:
I've got one of those A&A javelins too, that I mainly throw with an arcing trajectory out to about 25 yards, also using a pencil like grip almost 2/3 back from the head. I find it hits a lot harder that way. Even so, I agree armor penetration is highly unlikely at best. It may well be that the main value of these things was simply to distract the enemy and force them to bring their shields up, hopefully blocking their view of whatever else you're doing. Big Grin
A thrown spear on the other hand, will hurt a lot whether you're armored or not. I threw a windlass steelcrafts viking spearhead I'd put on a 60" ash shaft at a piece of 3/4 plywood, and the blade tip stuck an inch out the other side, at 30 feet.

-Pete


I agree that a spear would do a lot more damage than this particular javelin. I have considered getting a spear that would be an effective throwing weapon. There are so many variations though. I would think that a spear with a longer very acute point would be more of a penetrating weapon when thrown than a more broad-bladed spear that would be more effective for thrusting or defense. I think A &A's 12th century spear is a bit heavy for me, but I know there are others out there, perhaps a bit lighter, that would be great fun to throw as well. Any suggestions, besides the one you mention?

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P. L. Gross




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jul, 2010 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

None that I've gotten to try myself. The only other spear I have is a cutting spear, and I'm not throwing that! I have been wanting to get one that is more sharply pointed, as you said, to try out, but haven't gotten to it yet.
I do know that shaft length makes a difference if you're throwing it. I put a 5 foot shaft on mine because I intended for it to be primarily a throwing spear. The same head on a 9 or 10 foot shaft would be a great stabber, but much less throwable. What I did initially to figure out how long to make mine was to take a closet pole and put a metal pipe cap on the end, making a "dummy" spear to throw. It started out 8 feet long, but I didn't like it much, so I cut it down and kept throwing it until I ended up with something about 6 feet long that I liked and felt comfortable throwing. Then I mounted my real head to a 5 foot shaft to make my 6 foot throwing spear. That's just my own personal preference though is for something 5-6 feet long for throwing. I have no idea how people decided what was the optimum "throwable" length back when these things were actually used.

-Pete

From his weapons on the open road no man should step one pace away; you don't know for certain when you're on the open road when you might have need of your spear.
-Havamal
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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jul, 2010 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, how about this one? I've been looking at it for awhile here and there. It has a nice etched design, and with a five foot pole added, might be a good throwing weapon. It certainly looks sharp enough to do some serious hurt to someone on the receiving end. I'm not sure what size pole it needs however. Apparently a bit smaller than the standard 1 1/4" inch pole though. I think about a four to five foot length would be alright. Javelin shaft lengths probably varied a bit anyway. Maybe I could just go to a building supplier and get a broomstick handle. I'm not sure how sturdy the blade is (it's made by CAS Iberia), but even my A&A's get their point tweaked a bit if it hits a metal object like a nail or something.


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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jul, 2010 11:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff A. Arbogast wrote:
I'm not sure what size pole it needs however.


Inner socket diameter is about 26.5 mm, outer diameter is about 29 mm. According to CAS Iberia/Hanwei website, it should fit a 1" shaft. That will fit inside OK, but if you want the outside of the socket to sit flush with the shaft, you need a thicker shaft. Unless they make them smaller these days.

It's marketed as a "throwing spear", but I'd call it a thrusting spear. I think it would be ideal on 6.5', maybe 7', of shaft.

It's blunt, as in 2 mm or so thick at the edge, so some filing is needed to sharpen one. The steel isn't overly hard, so this is easy to do. The point section would end up square in section if you sharpened it, unless you thinned it as well as sharpening it.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Sun 01 Aug, 2010 4:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Jeff A. Arbogast wrote:
I'm not sure what size pole it needs however.


Inner socket diameter is about 26.5 mm, outer diameter is about 29 mm. According to CAS Iberia/Hanwei website, it should fit a 1" shaft. That will fit inside OK, but if you want the outside of the socket to sit flush with the shaft, you need a thicker shaft. Unless they make them smaller these days.

It's marketed as a "throwing spear", but I'd call it a thrusting spear. I think it would be ideal on 6.5', maybe 7', of shaft.

It's blunt, as in 2 mm or so thick at the edge, so some filing is needed to sharpen one. The steel isn't overly hard, so this is easy to do. The point section would end up square in section if you sharpened it, unless you thinned it as well as sharpening it.


Geez, that sounds like a lot of work to make it functional, and frankly, these days I just don't have the time. Maybe I'll look elsewhere. Too bad, because it does look nice, but I'm not willing to go to all that time and trouble. Thanks for the tip.

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