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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 9:11 pm    Post subject: Accuracy with use of the ancient sling...         Reply with quote

I have often wondered just how accurate the ancient sling was and to what range. I know that alot of this will depend on the pelter's skill, the manufacture of the sling, and the projectile, but what would be a ballpark average for a good pelter in antiquity?

I've seen a good deal of accuracy achieved with other archaic weapons, namely the bow and the atlatl - but these are using a stabilized projectile optimized for flight. I have seen a good atlatl'er have a 5" group (average with 3 spears) at a distance of 80 yards, which is phenominal - better than I can do with a modern compound bow.

Anyone out there with knowledge of this? Thanks in advance for the information.

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 9:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't give you first hand information about slings but here is a site I have " Bookmarked " that I go to occasionally when I want to read about slings:http: //www.slinging.org/

Look at their Forum also: http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl

here is a Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sling_(weapon)

Hope this helps. Big Grin

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Curt Cummins




Location: Portland, OR
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Dec, 2008 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As a kid, I routinely hit sheep/dog sized targets at 100 ft. with good repeatability. I have killed rabbits and other small game at 50 ft. with a moderate success rate. Throwing in a high arc, we could hit a 6' circle with good repeatability from 100 yards.

We were using granite stones picked up from stream beds mostly, about 3 inches long and as oval as we could find. Our slings were made from cotton cord and leather boot tongues. The strings were say 24 inches long. We threw overhand or side arm for short distance throws and underhand for long distance.

Overhand throws were done in a single motion -no whirling the stone around - kind of like pitching a baseball. Side arm throws could be whirled around a couple of time s to pick up speed, but that reduced accuracy.

Underhand throws were for distance, and we whipped the sling around several time sto pick up the maximum speed. You can also throw underhand on a flatter trajectory, by whipping the the stone around only once and releasing the stone at the bottom of the swing.

Rocks weighing a half pound could be chunked a half a block or more using the underhand throw. These certainly would have killed or seriously injured anyone who was hit by one. We fought with rocks, but not from the sling -thrown by hand only. In those long ago times, kids fought but didn't try to kill each other.

Curt

Ye braggarts and awe be a'skeered and awa, frae Brandoch Daha
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Jim Venable




Location: Georgia, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 15 Dec, 2008 11:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was just watching an episode of History Channel's show Ancient Discoveries titled Lost Science of the Bible. Coincidentally, as I clicked on this thread they were covering David's use of the sling against Goliath. A doctor gave an impact energy requirement of 3 kilojoules to a 30 millimeter square area of the forehead to ensure a kill. They had a Balearic Islander who practiced use of the sling performing the accuracy and power test. His target was a sensor that had an area of approximately 4 1/2 square inches and mounted on a 9 foot (2.76 meters) tall stand. The slinger hit the target on the first attempt shown and while I did not hear the impact reading, they mentioned that it was greater than the 3 kilojoule requirement. The narrator also mentioned an unspecified a number of failed attempts. While I didn't hear any mention of the range, I would have estimated it at no more than 10 meters, and possibly a bit less. That is a rough estimate, as there were no good references for scale or distance.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 9:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Three kilojoules? I have trouble believing that. The figure would match some rifle rounds. A heavy arrow from a heavy bow would be lucky to manage 200 J.
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Jim Venable




Location: Georgia, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin,

I was just relaying what the show's commentators were saying. I thought it sounded high myself, but lacked the knowledge to opine. My familiarity with energy unit measurements usually ends with matching light bulbs to sockets of appropriate wattage. Big Grin

If it helps further qualify the test, the sling gave a sonic "crack" (I can't call it a "boom") when released, and the stone was approximately egg sized. I don't recall any mention of the stone type, but it looked like a light colored limestone.
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a mention of cast lead sling bullets in the book "Warefare in the Ancient World" by John Warry. I wish I had the book in front of me, but the book mentions that they were inscribed with "dexa" meaning "take that!" and the one in the book looks to be considerably larger than a 1 oz. shotgun slug. I'd guess 2-3 oz of lead at relatively low speeds packs a punch not to be had in a rock of similar weight.
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 6:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a mention of cast lead sling bullets in the book "Warefare in the Ancient World" by John Warry. I wish I had the book in front of me, but the book mentions that they were inscribed with "dexa" meaning "take that!" and the one in the book looks to be considerably larger than a 1 oz. shotgun slug. I'd guess 2-3 oz of lead at relatively low speeds packs a punch not to be had in a rock of similar weight.
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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F. Carl Holz




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 2:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't know if it matters but Goliath may not have died from the impact of the stone, all the David needed was for him to be unconscious. In any case David cut his head off after he hit the ground.

Also I know that they still use slings sometimes in Bolivia. My mum and her siblings grew up there and my Uncle has made regular visits since. As I understand it (aside from killing foxes and such) at times people set up road blocks (whatever their reasons) and if someone trys to run it they will go for the windshield with a large stone to rather ugly effect.
Can't really be any more specific than that, it was along time ago that I was told this. However when I went with my uncle I bought one off the beaten path and I can believe that it would have been capable of it.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw that same history channel piece the other day on David. I got the impression from what they were kind of hinting at that power / distance seemed to kind of cancel out accuracy. It was a very small target the guy was aiming at though.

The Greeks and later the Romans were apparently the only ones who used lead sling bullets as far as I could tell when I was looking into this a couple of years ago for a computer game. They used to make them with a mould and put slogans on them "take that' and more vulgar type sentiments, sometimes just patterns or symbols that sort of thing. There are several surviving examples







They were also sometimes made of clay (much like US civil war muskett balls), but the lead bullets seemed to be significantly more effective than both the stone or clay bullets.

From what I have read (no practical experience) the maximum effective range of sling stones was considered further than bows and even most artillery during the time from the Bronze Age through the early Empire, but perhaps without significant accuracy they could only be harrassing weapons, and due to the nature of how they were thrown, couldn't be used in massed formation. The Greek light - troop types who usually used them were called Peltasts, the Romans Velites, both types carried small shields (of a specific crecent shape in the case of a Peltast) and did hit and run attacks. Both types primarily used javelins but also were deployed as slingers. Most slingers were apparently usually recruited from areas like the Baeleric Isles where there was a traditional skill base, so it seems it wasn't that easy to train locals. Though the same was done with archers in those times from places like Crete.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peltast

J

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Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Wed 17 Dec, 2008 9:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Slings also continued to be used in the middle ages, perhaps as a specialists weapon. My theory is that shepherds in areas where the tradition was alive (like the Baelerics) would spend a lot of time shooting everything from foxes to cactuses, as they had plenty of time on their hands, and thereby got skilled enough to be effective.

Note the slinger in this painting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_najera_froissart.jpg

Caption says: "Battle of Najera or the Battle of Navarette with John of Gaunt, the Black Prince, and Pedro the Cruel allied (to the left of the image) against Henry II of Castile and the French"

This article on a gaming forum also links to similar images in the Majewoiski bible and other sources

http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=47896&page=5

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Jim Venable




Location: Georgia, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Slings also continued to be used in the middle ages, perhaps as a specialists weapon. My theory is that shepherds in areas where the tradition was alive (like the Baelerics) would spend a lot of time shooting everything from foxes to cactuses, as they had plenty of time on their hands, and thereby got skilled enough to be effective.


I would consider that a very sound theory. In past ages where diversions were rare, sheperding must have been a rather boring task.



JE,

You might want to try the following site. I haven't looked there for a while, but there used to be several members who did a lot of practical experimentation.

http://www.slinging.org/
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