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View Full Version : Is anyone here familiar with slings as weapons?



Tog
2011-Dec-22, 08:57 AM
I'm looking for some rather specific information about the types of slings used as missile weapons before the advent of bows. In a non-trebuchet version, I mean.

Specifically, I see that the overall length was about a meter or less. A longer one would give more range. I'm wondering how much of a difference the diameter and configuration of the cord would make.

If I were to make one out of a three strand braid of kite string, the diameter would be very small, but it would also be very fragile. If I were to make it out of 1/4 inch rope, it would be thicker, and more durable, but what would the effect on performance be?

What if I made it with two 1/4 inch diameter strands knotted in regular intervals for the entire length?

o===+===+===+===+===+O+===+===+===+===+===+

I can make a few to test them, except I don't have anyplace practical to actually "fire" them.

Also, any idea on the initial velocity of a common bullet from a standard sling? I can't find that anywhere.

Perikles
2011-Dec-22, 09:52 AM
I'm looking for some rather specific information about the types of slings used as missile weapons before the advent of bows. In a non-trebuchet version, I mean..I have no specific information, but I think the aboriginal inhabitants of where I live, the Canary Islands (The Guanches) were masters of the art. They lived in the Stone Age until 1492 when the Spanish arrived, and even with guns the Spanish had surprising difficulty conquering them because of their defence with slings. I wonder whether research about them might reveal something. They were also expert at just throwing stones - that's all they had.

Edit: Not an answer to your specific questions, and you could probably Google this anyway, but Xenophon tells us that Rhodian slingers were able to improvise slings and lead bullets, and were able to outrange most enemy archers. Maximum range of the sling about 350 metres. Bullets could be stone, clay or lead. Lead bullets used by Macedonians at Olynthus averaged 30 grams, those of the defenders about 20. Diodorus Siculus alleges that the Balearic slingers used stones weighing one mina = 350 gram. Irrelevant but amusing is that a lot of the bullets from Olynthus are often inscribed with things like 'take that' and 'nasty present' (Source: Oxford Classical Dictionary)

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-22, 12:14 PM
There are several old illustrations that put slings behind archers, indicating that they had longer practical range.

Perikles
2011-Dec-22, 12:37 PM
If you need specific information, perhaps a good person to contact is someone I know, Dr Tracey Rihll of Swansea university UK, who specializes in ancient warfare and the technical aspects of it.

Trebuchet
2011-Dec-22, 03:51 PM
I've never tried a hand sling, but have experimented with small treb arms to use as a staff sling. It's a bit easier than using the hand sling (or seems so to me) and I believe ads to the range.

In answer to the OP, I think the kite string would be fine for reasonably sized projectiles. Doubling the 1/4 rope is overkill -- I throw pumpkins of 500g or more 400 feet with a sling made of 3/16 rope. As for a place to throw, I think you could at least get in some trials by using safe projectiles -- tennis balls come to mind -- in a park.

Tog
2011-Dec-22, 04:11 PM
Thanks for the replies.

The doubling of the rope wasn't for fear of it breaking, it was to double as a chain-whip type melee weapon. I was just wondering if the extra mass and air resistance would slow the release speed and cause it to launch into the ground or something.

As far as the original use goes, What I've found matched much of the above. Range was superior to most bows when fired underhand. The current record is 470 meters or so. I also thought it was funny that lead bullets have been found with inscriptions like "Catch" on them. It's nice to see humor has stayed pretty constant in a lot of ways.

Solfe
2011-Dec-23, 12:09 PM
Slings can be made from leather. I have always imagined slings to be about as long as the wielder sort of like a whip.

What are you using as a cup for the projectile?

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-23, 12:52 PM
Depending on the way they's spun, they can vary from about as long as from your hip to the ground, to from your shoulder to the ground.

Tog
2011-Dec-23, 01:10 PM
The one shown on the "how to make a sling" page is just a bit of thin rope where the middle is split into two sections and each wrapped with tape. The problem here is that it limits the size of the bullet to something that won't fall though the gap. They recommend polyester since it doesn't stretch or rot and won't splinter.

I think the way I will try is by braiding three strands to the middle then letting them run loose with a few loops tied into them, then braided again to the end. Other string will be passed through the loops to make a sort of net. I figure I fling ice cubes to test it so I won't have to go find them.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-23, 01:16 PM
As a kid I made one from a piece of thin leather that I tied two pieces of string to, didn't do a lot of throwing with it as my first test with a pebble sent it outside the space I had to play. Definitely went further than I could have thrown it.

Trebuchet
2011-Dec-23, 03:29 PM
Slings can be made from leather. I have always imagined slings to be about as long as the wielder sort of like a whip.

What are you using as a cup for the projectile?

That seems a little long to me. I'd think about 1 meter/yard for a hand sling. I do agree with the leather suggestion. You could probably make it out of one strip of leather twice the finished length. Leave it a bit wider in the middle for the pouch. Cut either side into three thin strips and braid them together.

Perikles
2011-Dec-23, 03:56 PM
You may (or not) be interested in the Francois Vase, painted by Kleitias, Athens, 570 BC. It depicts a whole range of scenes from Greek myth including the battle between the Pygmies and the Cranes. Here, the pygmies are mounted on goats (with confusingly long horns), and armed with slings. Of course, the actual size of the sling depends on the size of the pygmies, and goats, but you can see that the slings themselves are whole straps of leather. A good photo of this scene is here (http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/T92.2.html).:

Edit: I really must get into the habit of using google/ wiki before posting. It would save a lot of trouble. My post has nothing to add.

Trebuchet
2011-Dec-24, 12:33 AM
Edit: I really must get into the habit of using google/ wiki before posting. It would save a lot of trouble. My post has nothing to add.

On the contrary, you added a really cool picture showing how slings looked and that they were, at least in this instance, about the length of the user's arm!

If it's nice tomorrow, I'll have to find one of my longer small-treb slings and see if I can toss a tennis ball in the back yard. May try the staff sling version as well.