Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sticks and Stones

I'm working on a story set in a relatively primitive culture so I had to decide what types of weapons my characters had access to. It's difficult to envision what would work most efficiently. Finally, I hauled out my book of weapons through the ages. What? I saw that eye roll. Doesn't everyone have a book on weaponry? It should be right between the one on Civil War cooking and the Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures.

Anyway, that's a discussion we'll have at another time. Today we'll talk about swords, spears, axes, bows and arrows. When we think about ancient man, our first image of his weapon is a club. But the oldest arrow heads discovered so far are over 60,000 years old. Though the club is an efficient killing weapon, clearly early man wasn't limited in his arsenal.

Unless you're in close-up, one-on-one battle, the weapon is only as useful as the distance it will travel. This is still true today, even with handguns. Most handgun deaths and injuries are close up and personal. Our image of the stand-off at high noon is a little skewed because of movies and television. The truth is, both shooters expected to take a bullet. The one who triumphed was the one who made his shot count and lived to tell the story.

I suppose you're wondering what I decided. After considerable research I concluded my characters could possibly use anything from sticks and stones to spears, bows and arrows, swords (and shields), daggers and knives, axes, and even poison. It seems the ways for one person to kill another (or an animal) are just about limitless. That more or less makes the gun control issue moot. My hero has a gun. But when his bullets run out, it won't be much good for anything other than bashing someone in the head. And at that level, a rock will work just as well.



  1. I write historical fiction set in Ancient Greece. So, I totally understand the research into weaponry. And you're correct about where the reference guide should be.


  2. Hey, Christopher! Thank you so much for dropping by! I appreciate the back-up!

  3. I have a book on ancient weapons too. It's next to my "Action Heroine's Handbook", "Monter Spotter's Guide to North America" and "The Monster Hunter's Handbook".