In the spring of 2021 I was invited to travel to California to meet with a fellow plumbata researcher, Bruce Pruett. He has been studying this weapon for several years and he contacted me after reading some of my early research. Our initial conversation was interesting. His research on throwing the plumbata contradicted mine and he was not sure how I would react to this information. I was pleased to have someone to share research with and welcomed his tips and suggestions. After several conversations, my wife and I agreed to come to California to meet with Bruce and share information. On July 27th we flew to Sacramento to spend a few days doing plumbata research.
I took several plumbata with me to California and within minutes of meeting Bruce we were throwing our weapons and comparing how the ones he designed differed from mine. My weapons were designed using wooden dowels, feather fletchings, steel tips, and lead cast around the junction between the dowel and the steel tip. Two of my weapons were made with a ½ inch dowel and two were made with a ⅜ dowel. They each differed in length with the longer ones being made with the ⅜ inch dowels. Bruce had three weapons prepared, one with a carbon fiber shaft and plastic fletching, one with an aluminum shaft with plastic fletching, and one with a wooden shaft and feathered fletching. His lead was drilled and taped in place rather than cast.
We threw each weapon both overhand and underhand and paced off the distances they flew. What follows is a summary of what we found.
For every weapon, throwing overhand produced greater distances than throwing them underhand.
The wooden weapons did not fly as far as the carbon fiber or aluminum shafted ones.
The ½ inch shafted weapons did not fly as far as the ⅜ inch wooden shafted ones.
Between comparable weapons, the longer shafted ones flew farther than the shorter ones.
The weapons I brought with me flew further in California than in Washington.
I had expected the longer and thinner weapons to fly further based on the conversations I had with Bruce prior to coming to California. The tips he had given me suggested that my weapons would achieve greater distances if I switched to a ⅜ inch shaft and increased the length. What surprised me was that my weapons flew 30 to 40 feet further in California. My hypothesis is that the higher elevation and the lower humidity created less drag. I will have to do more testing to investigate this.