The Shingle Dart

by Dick Baugh (1/10/05)



My introduction to the shingle dart came from my Dad when I was eight-years-old. He acquired an old cedar shingle, whittled it into the shape of a weather vane and cut a notch exactly at the balance point. Then he cut a willow switch about two feet (60 cm) long, tied a foot (30 cm) of string on the end of the switch and put a loop in the end of the string. I spent untold hours using the switch and string to fling the dart very high into the air. I think this was a popular pastime of the late nineteenth century for young boys. It is described in D.C. Beard's "The American Boys Handy Book," first published in 1882, as a "Whip-Bow." Many years ago I read, in a book on the Indians of the Great Plains, an account of the "traveling arrow" which was almost exactly the same. It used to lob arrows into a pond full of ducks. I also saw the late George Stewart demonstrate a similar weapon at the Rabbitstick Rendezvous several years ago. This makes a great project for children who are just learning how to use a knife.

The ones I have made recently have been made from cedar shingles. The length is 17 inches (43 cm), the front end is 5/8 inch (1.8 cm) wide and the tail is 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide. The notch for attaching the string loop is placed at the balance point. I hope it is obvious that the thick end of the shingle is in front and the tail is the made from the thin end. The whip used to propel the shingle dart can be anywhere from one foot (30 cm) to three feet (90 cm) long, depending on the age and size of the thrower. They can be thrown either underhand or overhand.


The dart and whip.


An underhand throw.


E-mail your comments to "Richard A. Baugh" at

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