13th year for spear contest

By Eric Norwood Jr.

PNT staff writer

enorwood@pntonline.com

The 13th Annual Fall Atlatl Competition Saturday morning at the Blackwater Draw Archaeological Site drew participants from across New Mexico and Texas.

By Eric Norwood Jr.: Portales News-Tribune C.J. Abeyta, 21,  looks on as Ron Fields, 45, winds up to make his throw during the 13th Annual Fall Atlatl Competition at the Blackwater Draw Archaeological Site on N.M. 467. Abeyta and Fields were competing against each other in a throw-off for the adult male division.

By Eric Norwood Jr.: Portales News-Tribune
C.J. Abeyta, 21, looks on as Ron Fields, 45, winds up to make his throw during the 13th Annual Fall Atlatl Competition at the Blackwater Draw Archaeological Site on N.M. 467. Abeyta and Fields were competing against each other in a throw-off for the adult male division.

Nicholas Unger made a trip from San Marcos, Texas, with his two grandsons.

“I’ve been coming to this event for the past four years,” said Unger.

Divisions consisted of children, men, and women, but preserving history was one of the main themes of the competition, and was more important to most than actually winning.

“Almost everybody on earth used these weapons in the Ice Age and before, but everyone has forgotten that due to new technologies,” said George Crawford, director of the Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark.

Children launching their homemade spears from atlatls were a common sight, aiming for targets that looked like woolly mammoths and other historical creatures. The atlatl itself serves as sort of an arm extender, which adds velocity to the spear when it is slung from the atlatl.

“My husband hand-carved our atlatls, and he made the spears too,” said Colleen Felsch, who came from Rio Rancho with her daughter Kristin, and has for the past three years.

“I’ve learned that these were used to hunt animals like woolly mammoths,” said Kristin Felsch, 12.

C.J. Abeyta was a part of a group of students from New Mexico Military Institute who made the drive from Roswell to be a part of the competition.

“We have a Native American students club at our school, and my father knows a lot of the competitors, so we all drove down,” said Abeyta, one of a handful of participants dressed in military fatigues.

Tommy Heflin kept alive his tradition of inviting all the competitors back to his house to enjoy a pit-cooked pig, plus two wild turkeys. Everyone usually spends the day flint knapping with Heflin while the food is prepared. Winners of the competition won a handmade flint made by Heflin, and a certificate as well.

“I found my first arrowhead at 10. I started making them at 30, and I’ve been doing so for the past 40 years,” said Heflin.

Tony Aliano, 25, president of Mu Alpha Nu, oversaw planning of the event and couldn’t compete because of those demands.

“I’ve been running around all day, I haven’t even thrown today. It’s OK though, I won second place a few years back,” Aliano said with a chuckle.

Children:
1st James Huston
2nd Teigan Delk
3rd Laura Fields

Women:
1st Stacey Bennett
2nd Tristine Chico
3rd Colleen Felsch

Men:
1st Johnathan Flen
2nd Alan Daughtery
3rd CJ Abatts

Grand Champion:
Johnathan Flen
Longest Distance:
Ivan Rush

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