Baton de Commandement

Baton de Commandement

The "Baton de Commandement" is an artifact found at some French sites. There have been theories about it being a spearthrowing tool, but until this set of posts on the Paleo board, I hadn't heard of anyone actually trying it out. The text is all from posts by Ehkahk (Paul), and is reprinted pretty much verbatim with his permission. It's from a number of different posts, with the headers clipped out. Paul says the original idea for his design and testing came from and article by Paul Comstock in "Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills".

Wood, 8" x 1 1/2" x 3/4"
Leather thong or cordage


Baton de Commandement
Heres my baton de commandement!

Baton 1

Baton 2

Walnut sapwood, 8 inches long. I'll let you know how it throws darts

Anyways I took it out. I was throwing a 2.3 ounce, 6 foot dart 50 yards. With an atlatl the max I can throw that same dart is 70 yards sooooo its something to play around with

Anyways let me post the desc on how to use it, that I wrote on PA.

Ever seen an arrow thrown with a leather thong? Well its like a piece of string with a knot in the end. You wrap that knot on the arrow around the balance point or something like that and then rotate the string around once or so I forget. Then wrap the other end around your finger and you throw arrows. I could only throw a 600 grain arrow 100 feet with it. Supposidly you can do over 300 yards with a string.

Anyways, this baton thing is similar to that except you hold the baton on your hand, and the string which is through the hole in the wood wraps around a dart this time, the same way you do with a thong arrow... almost. Then you throw it as if you were throwing a spear with your hand.

Daryl make yourself one, trust me this thing is awesome

Heres the results of throwing today.

I brought the same 2.3 ounce dart, and another 3.8 ounce bamboo dart. Well the fletching came off the bamboo dart so after that I couldnt really use that one anymore to effect.

With distance I'm getting 50-55 yards. I found that if I try to angle it much higher than a little, from parallel with the ground then not much energy is transferred to the dart and it doesent go more than 30 yards. If its parallel or angled down slightly it just flies! heh

In the book it said for light darts 3/4th a turn of the string around the shaft. For heavier ones, 1 full turn. Well trying that out, I found that 3/4th and 1 full turn caused the dart to fly upwards on release and fly quite a bit higher and arc more like a distance throw. I started wrapping the string about 3 or 4 times around the dart and found that the (trajectory? is that what it's called?) to be somewhat flat, it didnt have much an arc to it.

More experiementing and then I found that the best way to throw was like a throwing spear, but as I'm moving my arm and body forward to lift the dart up and then do a fast downward motion as it's about to leave. That makes the dart fly parellel to the ground, with no sideways movement, it flies straight as an arrow! Usually when I'm throwing like that with a dart, close to the end of the flight, the darts gonna curve a bit.

Oh yea sorry forgot to mention that this dart has NO FLETCHING. So it flew like it had fletching, if I did that up/down thing right it would fly flat, straight and direct.

I started getting used to throwing it like that and I picked a target.

A lump of snow thats been compressed by kids as a ramp for their GT's. On the front in the middle there is bark and wood the size of a rabbit exposed. All around that is solid ice, it completely froze through.

At first I kept passing over the target, then I found that if I hold the dart further back a little I can have more control and pick a lower target. So I'm throwing and throwing.

Throwing from 20 yards at this point. Well I hit the top edge of the snow lump, the dart deflected, flew up over a 10 foot enbankment, and landed 70 feet away from the enbankment at the side of a massive pile of wood, brush and compost. It slid up the snow to the side of the pile and continued directly into it. Took me a while to find the damn dart lol, it passed through through the pile (30 feet long) and was stopped by a black walnut tree on the other side lol.

After that I started throwing 25 yards from my target. I actually hit the rabbit sized wood/bark 3 times! I hit the lump of snow quite a bit too. One time I threw it so hard, it zoomed hit the iced front part of the lump directly. I went up to pull the dart out. The lump was solid ice..... and the dart was in past the binding of the point. Went in 6 inches. Well I goto pull it out and it would not budge. I kept trying and I simply could not pull the sucker out. I hard to start smashing the lump apart with my foot and a rock. I finally smashed the ice around the dart, and managed to pull it out. Lol now the binding of the dart is damaged and the point is wiggling around. I have to repair it.

I think with a s***load of practice you could get pretty good at it. Its kinda like relearning the atlatl or like when I first started to learn how an atlatl worked, and had no help at all, nothing to look at, just experimenting.

This is a pretty damn sweet thing.. I think i'm starting to like it more than an atlatl

Oh yea I forgot to mention, try throwing downhill. That's when this thing REALLY shines I dont want to be on the recieving end! haha

I took a 6 foot, 5 ounce highbush cranberry shoot out to the field. Its not a dart yet, its balance is right in the middle, and pretty much even thickness along the whole length. I threw it with the baton and even though it kicked the head up and tail down, it still flew straight in the direction I wanted it to. I think its time to complete it into a dart and see what this thing can do!

Stefan yup i'll post a pic after dinner. Basically you hold the handle of the baton (big part facing back), like you hold an atlatl, and you hold the dart with thumb and index like you would an atlatl. If you wrap the string around one way it will want to curve in one direction. If it you wrap it the other way, it will want to go in the other direction (the dart that is). Not go as in fly, but go as in when your holding it. Different wrapping for left or right handed person I guess.

Heres the pics

I unplied the string and rebound it to the baton. Its not actually tied in there, just wrapped in and out of the hole in a '8'. You prolly dont even need the hole, but it does keep the dart in the middle. You could even just tie it to the hole. I couldnt because of the pointed tip.

Baton 3

Left is tail end, right is front end. So I wrap it under like shown at first. You can do the opposite, depending on which hand you are using, one of the ways will feel more comfortable than the other.

Baton 4

So now I take the rest of the string, pull it down to the right so that its sitting behind the knot in the string. I keep it tight like that so it wont run down the shaft. Wet or spruce sap the string if you want, it will hold better.

Baton 5

Now I continue wrapping down in the same direction till I cant anymore.

Baton 6

Then you hold it with your throwing hand like you would an atlatl and dart. See how the baton is at an angle to the dart? that is ok, you cant fix that because your fingers are in the way.

Baton 7

I have a baton de commandement! obey me or you shall get bonked! lol

You can prolly make one in 5 min. Just take a 6-8 inch piece of wood, drill a hole in the end and put the string on. It aint flexible either and I dont know if the weight of the baton makes any difference.

Daryl no prob you can put it on your site. Like my stuff that I wrote here is from experimenting with it, myself. I didnt actually think up the idea. But yea you can put what ive found from experimenting with the one I made so far up. The book where I got the info from is Primitive Technology " A Book of Earth Skills" and the article was by Paul Comstock

Thats where I saw the idea.

I cant wait till tommorrow to do more experimenting!

This baton is 8 inches long. Plus it uses the string. But anyways, if you had an 8 inch atlatl and threw the dart, you would not get as good results. But you cant really compare them by the length etc cause one uses a string and is in the middle of the dart, the other uses a spur and is at the end of the dart.

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