Blowgun hunter checking in. Blowguns are vastly more powerful than common sense implies. Using 5 gram wooden darts with razor sharp broadheads 10 mm wide, I can take down a duck or a rabbit inside 15 yards with one shot, the 16" dart flying completely through the animal, stopped only by the cone at the tail end.
Chronograph tests I’ve run give me velocities in the 40 m / s range, the sectional density of the dart equal to a bow-shot arrow. Maximum range of the heavy darts is 100 yards. I am positive I could kill a man with one dart, sans poison, if the dart didn’t encounter bones. It wouldn’t be instantaneous nor pretty, but it would do the job through profuse bleeding, internal and external.
The Cherokee and Choctaw among other SE peoples used blowguns and unpoisoned darts that were simply wood skewers sharpened to a point, to bag small game such as squirrel and pidgeon. “Superficial epidermal puncture” - not.
Poison darts become necessary when you need to kill mid-sized or larger game such as monkeys - and humans, at long distances. There’s a multitude of traditional dart poisons, curare being just one of them and not the most powerful or revered one. SE Asian blowgun hunters usually used poison derived from the upas tree (Antiaris toxicaria). Tests done with upas darts have shown that a single hit can paralyze a large game animal (small deer) immediately, death coming in ten minutes. Smaller animals, especially birds, succumb much faster. SE Asian hunter-gatherers used poison darts on Japanese sentries to good effect as late as WW II.
Conquistadors got a taste of curare soon after entering South America. According to Spanish sources, a man hit with a curare dart died inside an hour. As curare kills by relaxation of the respiratory system, the victim can be saved by continuous mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until the effect wears off (not a tip from the Conquistadors).
Strychnine-based dart poisons such as upas are deadly upon ingestion - natives cut out a chunk of meat surrounding the hit to prevent poisoning themselves. Curare, in the minute amounts on a dart - is safe to eat. Curare-killed meat is in fact considered a better treat than unpoisoned fare.
The blowgun, to my mind, is a very handy means to “deliver a projectile into a target”. More silent than a bow-shot arrow, vastly more so than any pellet gun or silenced firearm I’ve shot, lightweight, foolproof and highly accurate at short range. YMMV.