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August 28, 2014
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Rope Dart Rings Theory

A major component of the rope dart are the rings that connect the dart to the rope. The rings are often overlooked as an essential part of the weapon and I have recently heard some alternative logic with regard to the rings functionality.

First, let’s look at what I have personally heard people describe as the rings function. I have heard that the rope dart rings purpose is to entangle the intestines/guts of a pierced enemy so that when the dart is withdrawn from the body it will pull out said enemy’s intestines/guts. Now, I am not claiming I know the exact reason for the rings, however, this theory is a poor guess at best and silly at worst. I have an educated view of their purpose and I am sure that the aforementioned reason (gut pulling) is not the reason for the rings. Here is my take:

While gut pulling has all the glitz, glamour and colorfulness that a person might want to believe there is no evidence of this. The dart (nowadays) is at least 5 1/2 inches long putting the rings more than 5 1/2 inches from the tip of the dart. I am even willing to bet ancient darts were longer giving way to my case. Let’s assume that a skilled practitioner is under attack. That practitioner must be able to shoot the dart so that it not only penetrates the skin but travels more than 5 1/2 inches into the person for this theory to have any merit. Five and a half inches deep is roughly half way through my torso! That is a long way to go, is it even possible? Efficiency is a must in battle; why would the ancient people base a component of their weapon on something that most likely isn’t even possible? They wouldn’t. What if the practitioner hits the guy in the arm, leg, head etc.? Do we pull guts from their hand? To humor the idea, even if the dart traveled more than 5 1/2 inches into the body how does that explain rings entangling intestines?

My take, and please feel free to disagree but at least recognize and appreciate the logic, is that there should be more rings making a longer chain from the dart before attaching to the rope. The “ring” is probably a misnomer and it was probably a chain several inches to a foot long. But why? Lets take the practitioner from the first example who is under attack. His attacker has a sword and he knows how to use it. The rope darter shoots the dart and the swordsman deflects it, a battle ensues, and ultimately the rope dart gets wrapped around the sword. The rings/chain would prevent the swordsman from cutting through the weapon. If the rings were shorter in length the dart would wrap around the sword, including the rope, and the rope could then surely be cut. With a chain, the dartist has a chance of pulling the sword out of the swordsman’s hands and relieving him of his weapon, or in the very least manipulating the sword enough to get in close to make it a hand to hand confrontation. The dartist can even attempt some binding techniques with the rope from close range. If the dartist can’t relieve the swordsman of his weapon the dartist always has the option of removing the rope dart handle from his wrist and bailing out.

Going beyond, lets say that the rings really are for pulling out guts and it works. Now what? The warriors has to stop everything, in the middle of a battle, to now untangle guts from his dart ring? What if they tangle so well s/he can’t get them off thus negating the principle of a reusable throwing dart? Does this seem efficient? If the rings are meant for gut pulling then why do they also appear on the meteor hammer? Surely, a meteor hammer is not penetrating anything, it is a bludgeoning weapon. But still, there are those rings. Hmmm…

Finally, I am presenting this as theory (albeit educated and logical), not fact. The rope dart has such an uncertain history, it is okay to not know everything about it. However, in this uncertainty, I implore some level of thinking before presenting theory as truth.

My father always says, “When you don’t know just say you don’t know.”

RDA
RDA

2 Comments

  1. JQST says:

    That still does not explain the configuration of the rings: four rings around one central ring.
    For me, the function is to hear the tension between dart head and the rope.
    If my form gets sloppy, the rings jingle more

    • Frank says:

      Thank you for your comment. There has been a lot of speculation around the rings purpose, admittedly, we want to further look into the purpose. The configuration you speak of is found on a traditional conical head and was designed that way to look like a plum blossom flower. In other words, the ring configuration you speak of is for aesthetics.

      The purpose of the rings is for better freedom in flight and to allow the dart to “swim” through the air – similar to an arrow being shot on a bow. The point is that a person wants separation between rope and head – this is where the rings come into play. Don’t believe? Try it! Attach your rope directly to the dart head (not on any ring) and you will immediately feel the difference.

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