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Author Topic:   The Sling
Senior Member
posted 02-23-2006 01:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
The sling... It's just a little bit of cloth, or leather, or crocheted yarn, and a few smooth rocks...

There's the story of David and Goliath, which is pretty much the shining moment in Sling history, but I've read in a few places that they held a pretty important position in Medieval warfare. I'd like to know more about how it was used, tactically speaking.

bent one
Senior Member
posted 02-26-2006 10:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
these guys say it so much better than I could ever hope to do.

posted 02-27-2006 12:18 PM           Edit/Delete Message
The sling was really outdated by the advent of the bow, be it shortbow,longbow or latterly the deadly crossbow.
The history of the sling can be traced back to biblical times as Steve has pointed out but it was interestingly the forerunner of much more powerful weapons such as the mangonel or even the later trebuchet which were only really huge slingshots in principle.


[This message has been edited by Paul (edited 02-27-2006).]

bent one
Senior Member
posted 02-27-2006 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
Yes, and speaking of the trebuchet design did you go to that site and hit the "more ancient weapons" link at the bottom the guy has constructed a weapon called a "staff sling" looks suprisingly similar to the throwing arm on a trebuchet. do you know any places that get's into the physics of these things because they are pretty awesome.

posted 02-27-2006 12:56 PM           Edit/Delete Message
The trebuchet is one of my favourite weapons!

Take a look here http://www.tasigh.org/ingenium/physics.html

I can't vouch for its accuracy, but then again the trebuchet couldnt always be relied upon.
I believe that the Chinese developed the first siege engine but the Arabs developed it further by adding the counterpoise box.

Regards, Paul.

[This message has been edited by Paul (edited 02-27-2006).]

bent one
Senior Member
posted 02-27-2006 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
Trebuchets were like the nukes of the period but as you said sometimes they had problems. I heard this somewhere but I'm not sure if it's true, does the word trebuchet actually mean, "to fall over", ?

posted 02-28-2006 07:48 AM           Edit/Delete Message
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trebuchet#Etymology

"Trebuchet is Old French, from trebucher "to throw over" < tres "over, beyond" and buc "torso" < Latin trans and a Germanic word."

The biggest problem with these large siege engines was that of finding the correct range as they were heavy to move and labour intensive.
The stone balls were made by stone masons and had to be of the same weight to maintain the correct range when that range was found.
The head of a trebuchet crew would have been a well paid man and many are known changed sides during conflicts.
During the siege of Rochester castle in 1215, http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/castles/page34.html King John employed five trebuchets but they had little effect, so the importance of the siege engine has to be questioned.
As for being the "nukes" of their age? they were the ultimate siege weapon of the time but not as effective as undermining.

bent one
Senior Member
posted 02-28-2006 09:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
It seems with slings as well that the density and wieght of your ammo is important. if you look at some of the articles at Slinging.org they have instructions on the mescaleran apache sling method and it has an extensive section on determining the consistency of the stones you use.

I'm seriously considering making and trying to learn how to use this weapon considering it's cheapness of construction and the plentiful quantity of ammunition around where I live.

I was right though saying they were like modern atomic weapons as far as weapons go, mining while more effective and ,in my opinion, clever was more of a method than a weapon.

Senior Member
posted 03-06-2006 09:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
I too decided to try making a sling. I used some modified instructions from www.slinging.org to make a sling out of chain mail, because I can, and I figured that in a pinch, a chain mail sling could be used as a melee weapon.

On the second try, I was able to fling a really lousy stone 135 feet, to about the area I was aiming for. Sadly, the brass links I had used stretched open at that point, effectively destroying the sling.

I then tried throwing the rock the same way. The rock flew out of my hand at a 45 degree angle to the left, nearly breaking a window a few feet away...

I guess the basics for using a sling are not really that difficult...

posted 03-07-2006 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
A similar exercise was undertaken on the UK tv series, "Scrapheap Challenge". It was interesting to see the affectiveness (or otherwise) of different materials and propulsion methods. The most recent project was to create a mechanism for firing a spear accurately at different targets.

Chosen designs included cross-bows made from former axel leaf springs and from skis. Other teams made spear throwers of various kinds (the cross-bow designs were by far the most accurate and powerful).


bent one
Senior Member
posted 03-09-2006 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
cool idea steve!
I made one out of a scrap of leather and some boot laces, not sure of actual distances but i use mushy potatoes for ammo(they work great!) seem to get some good distance out of it but not terribly great accuracy as of yet.
According to the site my sling isn't made out of the right stuff and is not really made for my size but I haven't gotten around to that extent yet, guess i'm lazy that way : )

posted 03-10-2006 09:11 AM           Edit/Delete Message
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the current record for the greatest distance achieved in hurling an object from a sling is: 477.10m (1565ft 4in), using a 127cm (50in) long sling and a 62g (21/4oz) dart. This was achieved by David Engvall at Baldwin Lake, California, USA on 13 September 1992.

posted 03-10-2006 09:28 AM           Edit/Delete Message
For a conventional throw, one does not make multiple rotations of the sling, a proper slinging action requires just one rapid rotation. The more times you swing it, the less likely you'll hit anything.

(Some slingers will rotate the sling slowly once or twice to seat the projectile in the cradle.)

One makes an overhand throw, using the sling to extend one's arm. The motion is similar to bowling a cricket ball. This is relatively accurate, instinctive and quite powerful. One faces 60 degrees away from the target, with one's weak hand closest to the target. The coordinated motion is to move every part of the body, legs, waist, shoulders, arms, elbows and wrist in the direction of the pocket in order to add as much speed as possible to the stone. One releases the projectile near the top of the swing, where the projectile will proceed roughly parallel to the surface of the earth.

Another method of release said to be favoured by slingers firing into grouped or massed targets is an underhand throw. The motion is similar to that of throwing a softball. The trajectory arc is relatively high. The thrower stands 60 degrees away from the target, and takes one step forward from the trailing foot, letting the sling swing forward. Range is said to be increased with this method, sacrificed for accuracy. Several historians have conjectured that this was the most commonly used method in ancient warfare due to its practicality.

There are also sideways releases, in which the swing goes around. These throws make it very easy to miss the target by releasing the projectile at a slightly wrong time. Other slinging methods can be seen, but many authorities deprecate them.

The clumsiest part of using a shepherd's sling is to regain control of the release cord. Conventionally, the loop of the retention cord is placed around a finger of the strong hand. Several projectiles may be held in the weak hand. After the release, an expert will continue the motion. The cradle will catch around a stone held out with the weak hand, so that the end of the release cord swings back to the strong hand retaining the loop. Just after the knot begins to swing, slightly before the knot reaches the strong hand, one drops or throws the projectile toward the ground with the weak hand, starting into the next release. Some persons braid the end of the release cord around a weight to help perform this manoeuvre. With this method, a skillful user can throw an aimed stone every few seconds in a cyclic coordinated movement, until the weak hand is empty.

Please don't blame me for your broken windows!

Senior Member
posted 03-10-2006 07:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
I think I'll find a different shooting range before I try anything like that!

But are there any records (aside from the pictures of guys with slings and staff slings) of slings having been used for warfare during the Middle Ages?

I'm pretty sure they were, at least until the armor got good enough to stop arrows...

bent one
Senior Member
posted 03-10-2006 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
I don't have anything in the middle ages yet but I do now that when Cortes was in Mexico the most feared weapon the natives had was a sling. and we're talking about spanish soldiers wearing armor. that slinging.org has some stuff devoted to just history I'll go look for some specific times.

bent one
Senior Member
posted 03-10-2006 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bent one     Edit/Delete Message
some interesting historical drawings: http://www.slinging.org/historygallery.html

a ongoing forum devoted to collecting all known historical information regarding slings/slinging. http://www.slinging.org/forum2/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=project.

posted 08-01-2007 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ricky     Edit/Delete Message
Slings are recorded as being used by the English at the Battle of Hastings - though it only appears in one or two of the Norman sources.

All times are PT (US)

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