Are you Shooting Arrow heads or Atlatl Heads?

Please take the time to read this or take my word for it.   Please let me choose the right point for your needs.
I do this for a living, I know what it takes to kill a deer with a stone point. MANY people make the mistake of shooting too large of a stone point because they are used to shooting 125 grain steel points.  Your arrows will fly with lighter points, your arrow will penetrate better with thinner points.  Please trust me. just give me a shout on the phone and we can discuss it  352 428 4704.
My name is attached to every point I ship out. I will not send you a point that I would not personally shoot a deer with. If a point is too wide or too thick, it wont penetrate well. I will not make points that are too big and then lie to you by telling you they will work fine!  I simply wont be able to take your stone point order if you request points that are too big. If I would not personally use them, then do YOU really want to use them?
1-Your bow needs to be over 45# at your draw length  closer to 60# is better!
2-Your arrows need to fly straight, no fish tailing or porpoising.
3- your arrow needs to be roughly 450-600 grains with the point attached.
4- the point to shaft transition needs to be very smooth-  watch my video
feel free to read my featured article regarding size of points.
Are You Shooting Arrow heads, or Atlatl heads?
In several years past, I had repeatedly pushed myself into hunting with stone points. I had a lot of inconsistencies and marginal successes with far more disappointments prevailing. I started really questioning the lethality of stone as well as it’s place in “modern” ethical, primitive archery. My father used to say, “ I don’t think many deer and buffalo were actually killed with stone arrowheads”. His reasoning was justifiable when he would show you an “arrowhead” found in a Pennsylvania cornfield comparing it to an old Bear Greenie that he used for hunting. There was no comparison. The stone was clunky and crude, the broadhead sleek and razor sharp. As he explained the mechanics behind how a broadheads kills by hemorrhage, It was obvious something was amiss with this stone point. Dull and fat, this wasn’t going to cutting anything well. He told me, “With this arrow head your relying on a puncture wound and luck”. “It will simply push organs out of its way before it cuts them.”  My Father was an extremely intelligent guy but lacked the knowledge in this area. What he based his conclusions on where not quality controlled points and not even real Arrow heads!

When I grew hungry for a stone point kill years later, I took up flint knapping. I made a lot of big rocks into little rocks and occasionally produced a crude point that resembled corn field points. When I declared I would hunt with them, my Father, ever skeptical said, “I don’t think your going to be happy with the outcome.” He then ordered me 3 stone hunting points from a reputable archery supplier. When they arrived a week later I was awestruck by their beauty. These looked far better than mine and gave me hope. They were rather large however. My Father again speaking from ignorance, God Bless him, told me you needed a larger point with stone because it wasn’t as sharp and you likely needed a bigger point to do the damage.  I just figured, “ahh maybe he is right.” He also took notice and said, “I’m skeptical about these too, they are not very sharp either!”   The bought points  looked great but I began to have doubt as I was not overly impressed with their over all sharpness.  My mind however re-assured me that these came from a “professional” company and must be the best you can get!

I didn’t shoot anything with them that year. Over the course of the following year, I grew leaps and bounds in my knapping and was soon producing points that looked just like the bought points and felt every bit as…..”sharp”.   First deer of the season would prove me wrong. What looked like a great hit resulted in about 3 inches of penetration, even from a mid 50’s pound bow and a heavy oak arrow at 9 yards! Some similar experiences followed and I grew angry with my short comings. My father again told me, “I don’t think they killed as much big game as everyone thinks” “They ran buffalo to death or off cliffs and used arrows to wear them out much like a Mexican bull fighter would by lancing a bull.” Another fellow told me that they gut shot deer on purpose so they could get penetration and then looked for crows, buzzards and magpies the next day. All this information seemed plausible but I wasn’t convinced. Perhaps these were tried and trued methods but I still want to know more about this.

It wasn’t until I became an accomplished knapper that I started to build theories of my own. I also obtained a book of actual found artifacts and points. This book has scaled pictures, places and carbon dated time periods. A wealth of information is to be found here if you can open your mind and soak it up. I dedicated countless hours and started making lists, comparing dates, sizes, styles and locations of literally Thousands of points. I also found I could knap points much sharper if I utilized a good serrated edge. Many folks informed me that these serrations would hang up in the hide. Perhaps theirs did hang up but maybe the serrations were not truly at fault. I will also add that there is a huge difference in a “serrated” edge and a truly sharp serrated edge. Just because is looks serrated, doesn‘t mean it‘s sharp! I concluded that nearly Half the points in the book were heavily serrated! I also took notice of some severe size differences and began to notice a pattern with dates. These so called “bird points” all occurred very late in history compared to the larger points we are all familiar with. They obviously didn’t just decide to start hunting small game all the sudden 1000 years ago! This find pushed me to dig further. I now had a theory, I just needed more proof.

I found many sources that place bows being commonly used in North America only in the last 1500-2000 years. Many people say “The bow is way older than that”. In Europe yes, but not in North America. I’m not saying a bow was never used in N. America earlier, But the common use of it was noted to be much later. Remember they didn’t have computers, mail or telephones. There wasn’t a nation wide “discovery” of the bow and arrow. It would have started in very isolated areas and slowly worked it’s way throughout the continent with many elders likely being very skeptical and adopting the “If it ain‘t broke, don‘t fix it” theory referring to tried and true atlatls!  Some far reaches would have adopted the technology as much as 1000 years later. Between 800- 2000 years ago these larger points were almost completely phased out and these small “bird points” now flourished. The correlation is easy to see when studying dates. “bird points” and bows go hand in hand. So I determined these points were not “bird” or small game points. They were used for everything, Big and small game. When thinking about it logically, I don’t make special small game arrows. I make all my arrows from natural materials. There is a lot of work involved unlike just buying some doweled cedars and going to town. So when I get arrows made up, they are all good deer arrows. I don’t carry 3 small game arrows and 3 deer arrows. It’s too confusing in a plains style or bark quiver. Too easy to grab the wrong one when the time calls for a hasty arrow draw and shot!  I carry all the same arrows. They would have arguably done the same. Perhaps the first small points were used for small game and when a deer was shot with one they realized the small points effectiveness and thus would have started the points’ evolution.

I started modeling my stone hunting points after these smaller points. Short and thin. 7/8 – 1” wide and they come out between 50- 70 grains. Once I started shooting these, my success rate grew to my steel hunting point standards. I now get pass through’s and have much cleaner kills with 30-50 yard blood trails. I realized a well placed small point was far more devastating than a well placed large point! I was getting two 1” wide holes in the animal ( 2” of total laceration) as opposed to only one 1.5” hole with little penetration with a larger point. I concluded that two holes are much better than one and Penetration is the name of the game when discussing faster bleed outs and shorter blood trails. I began further work on the transitions between shaft and point. That needs to be extra smooth by the way. Too many people have rough transitions that will severely hinder their penetration. My advice is make the transition as smooth as you can.. Then make it smoother! With a heavy arrow, 500+ grains, 50’s-60’s pound selfbow and these small points, I can now honestly say I have conquered the stone. I have never carried steel points in my quiver since.
So what about the “Arrowheads” found in the fields???  Lets refer back to the artifact books. These sizes and styles simple date back to before bow and arrows. These are made for Atlatls and the even larger points for spears! The proof is in the dates. The 1000 grain Atlatl darts can penetrate better with these heavy clunky points unlike our relatively light arrows that need smaller, thin points to penetrate. Another point you need to keep in mind is the points you likely find in corn and soybean fields are probably rejects that didn’t make the hunting, quality control. These were not punched out on a press like modern points. Each one is hand chipped and even accomplished knappers produce some slingshot ammo every now and then. These “oops” points weren’t “cool” back then like they are today, they were just simple garbage that got discarded on the ground with the rest of the flakes and chips of useless rock. Occasionally some nice ones were likely dropped in the grass (especially the little ones!) and lost along with the garbage, but for the most part, the points you find amongst the numerous flakes in a corn field are just junk points that were never used for hunting. The good ones would have been used over and over until re-sharpened down to nubs or they were lost randomly in the woods.  Ever find just a random point in the woods while hunting?  Those are the ones actually used and lost. They are typically the nice ones!

Next time you want to take stone points hunting, take a good look at your points. Are you shooting Atlatl points? Or real arrowheads. The ancients did this for an honest “living”. You can bet they were better than you and I.  If they used these so called “bird points” on their arrows, then there is obviously a reason. The bigger points all but disappeared from history once the bow and arrow came about. That alone should tell you something. “But why are there far more atlatl points than arrow points?” There are far more Atlatl and spear points because the spear precedes the arrow by 9000 years! That’s a lot of knapping!  Also keep in mind that many areas where civilized by Europeans shortly after the bow and arrow took hold.  You will notice there are far fewer true arrowheads found in the New England area and in Florida, compared to the more isolated areas that had hundreds of years more use of the bow and arrow before modern man intervened.

Can you kill a deer with a larger point? Sure, I have done it and others have too, and even occasionally you can get a pass through if you get lucky. But I will be first to point out, they DO NOT penetrate well at all when compared to the smaller points. I have heard of and seen too many arrows penetrate only inches and are followed by several hundred yard blood trails and often times lost game.  I make a lot of hunting points for folks and I always here, “I want 125 grain stone points”  ever make one and weight it??? 125 grains is a big stone point… Stone isn’t nearly as dense as steel. Some will always insist on having a large stone point and advocating their effectiveness. In my opinion, they just haven’t shot enough deer with them to realize the large points‘ shortcomings . I had to shoot several myself before I would adopt a 50 grain stone point!  Physics don’t lie right???? Heavier always penetrates better. Sure you got me there. But make up the weight in your arrow, not your point. I Guarantee a 600 grain finished arrow with a small thin point will out penetrate a 600 grain finished arrow with a large point any day! Say what you will, “Serrations hang up”, “Little points don’t cut enough”. I know one thing, I bring deer and hogs home with these “bird” points and I have experienced more bad results than good with big points.  You and I both know what I carry in my quiver these days!

-Ryan “Twistedlimbs” Gill  of  Gill’s Primitive Archery.