'Natural javelin' is a creative outdoor activity suitable for young children of all abilities. The aim of natural javelin is to combine your creative skills and the natural environment. This allows children to better understand nature, the environment, and how to use tools properly.

Resources

  • Different Sized ‘Woodland Based’ Javelins
  • Knife, Scissors, Feathers, Thick/Thin Cord, Superglue, Marker Pen
  • Tape Measure/Distance Measuring Wheel

Explanation

Find natural javelins within the woodland and create a throwing area, by creating a throwing line with markers every 5/10 metres. The group could focus on how far natural sticks can go (types; long, short, light or heavy, thin or thick, leafy).

Before you throw each type of stick, make a prediction on how far it make go, which stick will fly the furthest? What stick will have the shortest flight? You may even want to put your findings onto a graph.

To make your natural javelins fly further look at placing a handle on it, and make sure the javelin is heavier at the nose rather than the tail end. If you want the javelin to look fantastic, place some fletchings on it (the fletchings will not enhance its performance but just make it look great).

Creating a Natural Javelin

Create your handle

Using your tape measure, measure your fist. Mark the measurements from your fist onto the middle of the javelin. Using the knife, proceed to take off the bark and also a slice of the heartwood. Using thick cord, either make a hitch or wrap end of rope onto itself, then continue to wrap until you have covered the exposed wood. Finish with another hitch.    

Cutting Grooves

Cutting first groove you will need a feather as a guide. Score the wood using the knife then proceed to cut out a groove.

Mark and Cut

Once you have the first groove measured and cut, use a marker pen to divide the end into thirds. Using the knife, positioned at the end of the groove (closest to handle), score around the javelin. You now can cut the other two grooves.  

Slicing Feathers

Prepare the feathers by first using the knife to slice the thinnest side off, leaving the spine and thicker side.

Cutting the Feathers

Place one feather against the groove then using scissors cut at an angle. Repeat process with the other feathers, or use the pre-cut feather as a guide.

Preparation to Attach Feathers

Using thin cord, attach to the javelin below the grooves. After this apply glue to the grooves, making sure you smear a thin layer (not a thick layer).

Attaching Feathers

Place feathers into the grooves and wait for a second for the glue to start to bond with the feather. Begin wrapping the thin cord evenly around the feathers (you may need to open the feathers before placing the thin cord onto it) until you have got to the top, then repeat back down to the starting point.

Altering Feathers

You may find when wrapping the thin cord around the feathers that some need to be altered by pulling through the already wrapped cord.

Enhanced Natural Javelins

You will notice that the javelin is not got a tip at the non-feathered end. If you wish to do this then use your knife and whittle a point. As a leader, make sure you understand what is meant by a dynamic risk assessment of the group, activity, and site, so that the session can be managed appropriately.

Safety Tips

Use good practise when using a knife, and make sure the throwing area is clear before throwing. Once everyone has finished throwing the javelins, you are then ready to measure and gather them.