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Andy C. Nystrom





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PostPosted: Fri 03 Apr, 2009 7:29 pm    Post subject: Can the Shepards Sling be lethal on one throw?         Reply with quote

I know that the sling has been used in hunting and combat. But I'm curious on how accurate could a person be with a sling and could a skilled "Slingsman" kill a grown man with a single well aimed throw?
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Anthony Riopel





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PostPosted: Fri 03 Apr, 2009 9:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, a sling could kill a person with one shot.

To the accuracy and range, in the roman army a well trained bowman was considered equal to an equally trained slinger. The slingers had an advantage in more power per shot, regularly smashing bones without any visible damage to the skin, and being far cheaper. The only advantages bows of the time had were that they required less room to use, and could shoot in an arc. Both things a sling could not be used for.

Imagine a pro baseball pitcher, and how much room they take up throwing a fastball. now put a 2 foot string in their hands, and have the ball be thrown by that.
Also imagine how accurate these pro pitchers can be... a sling is that accurate to. Alot of sources say that slings are not only more powerful, but also have more range and more accuracy then a bow. I can't attest to this though.
Romans actually placed so much value in the sling, that they had lead shot made in the shape of an acorn for slingers. This shot could break shields, bones, and armour of the time.


I've also read one account that when the spanish landed in middle america, the only aztec weapon they actually feared was the excellently woven sling that was a staple in aztec warfare. The slung rocks wouldn't actually damage the plate armour of the spanish, but the resulting shock would badly injure the person wearing it. Sometimes lethally.


Hope this helps.



Edit: Instead of starting a new thread, i'll ask about this here instead.
I've read that one of the advantages to slinging is being able to use a shield at the same time, but how often was this actually done?

Be wary the wrath of a patient man.


Last edited by Anthony Riopel on Sat 04 Apr, 2009 12:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Eric Meulemans
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Apr, 2009 9:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Can the Shepards Sling be lethal on one throw?         Reply with quote

Andy C. Nystrom wrote:
I know that the sling has been used in hunting and combat. But I'm curious on how accurate could a person be with a sling and could a skilled "Slingsman" kill a grown man with a single well aimed throw?


The short answers are "very" and "yes". The sling as a weapon has been severely underrated by historians for a simple reason - it requires great skill to use effectively. Much moreso than a bow, it takes long practice to become proficient, so that when one picks up this simple tool and attempts to use it without having had a childhood spent keeping the wolves at bay from one's sheep, it seems as though it must be utterly useless.

To re-state what I said in this thread, I have taken some velocity measurements using a radar unit and tennis balls, which were clocked at 130-150 km/h. If we assume an 80 gram (around 1,200 grain) stone/glandes and an initial velocity of 150 km/h (137 fps), the projectile would be generating 68 joules (50 ft. lbs.). This is well in excess of some estimates made regarding the sling (as, for example, in Sumer to Rome by Gabriel & Metz) and is very close to the U.S. Army research findings for the amount of energy required to inflict a casualty.

As far as accuracy, I suggest looking at the Balearic slinging competitions. The target used is 1.2 metres (4 ft.) wide with a 50 cm (1.6 ft.) hole in the centre fitted with an iron plate for a bullseye. Men sling at 19.5 metres (64 ft.) and 29.25 metres (96 ft.). So a skilled slinger can certainly strike a man-sized target at 100 feet with lethal force.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2009 5:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My grandfather made me a sling when I was a boy and I learned quite a bit from trying to use it. Someone said it takes great skill to use it and I will heartily second that and admit that when I was using my sling the safest place to be was in front of whatever I was trying to hit! LOL! I'll admit I was using stones of varying sizes but I really don't think my accuracy would have much improved had I had uniform ammunition. I never did get the knack of using a sling but I did learn enough to say that a slinger ( a much better one than I was!) could easily kill a man and quite probably injure an armored one.

One of the things I discovered, however, is that not only can one throw a relatively small projectile a long way but one can also throw a much larger projectile much farther than one could by hand. Imagine throwing a rock the size of a grapefruit a considerable distance. My accuracy with these heavy stones was even more dismal than with smaller ones but I've sometimes wondered if slingers were ever used as "light artillery" in a manner similar to this. I would imagine that doing something like this would be pretty effective if one were defending a fortified position for example. Having a stone almost half the size of your head dropping out of the sky on you would really spoil your day!

Ken
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2009 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:

One of the things I discovered, however, is that not only can one throw a relatively small projectile a long way but one can also throw a much larger projectile much farther than one could by hand. Imagine throwing a rock the size of a grapefruit a considerable distance. My accuracy with these heavy stones was even more dismal than with smaller ones but I've sometimes wondered if slingers were ever used as "light artillery" in a manner similar to this. I would imagine that doing something like this would be pretty effective if one were defending a fortified position for example. Having a stone almost half the size of your head dropping out of the sky on you would really spoil your day!
Yes, staff-slings were used for that purpose during the early and high medieval age. I've seen the once or twice on images of ship-to-ship-battles and sieges.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2009 6:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sling bullets were known to penetrate exposed flesh at 100 yards. Goliath was a lot closer to David than that, since he was taunting him. A lot of modern "experts" have come up with all kinds of bizarre rationalizations for the story, such as how Goliath must have had a soft spot in his skull, etc., but the simple answer is that Goliath got WAY too close and David blew his brains out with a shot between the eyes. I guess the Philistines didn't know about slings!

Using a shield isn't always possible, since you have to use your left hand to load the sling even though you only use your right hand to throw. If it's a shield with arm straps, or a neck strap, sure, that would work.

Yeah, my advice to a beginner slinger is to go out *alone* into the middle of a very large open area with no breakable structures or cars around, because you have no idea which direction your first shots will go! And wear a helmet, seriously. One of my Romans smacked himself in the head... If you start with tennis balls for ammunition, they're a lot safer, easier to retrieve, and won't upset someone's lawnmower if you don't find them. We found a black walnut tree that was dropping nuts all over in the fall, making perfect free ammo that we didn't have to gather up afterwards.

More good stuff: http://www.slinging.org/

Have fun! Carefully...

Matthew
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Chuck Russell




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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2009 7:39 am    Post subject: Re: Can the Shepards Sling be lethal on one throw?         Reply with quote

Andy C. Nystrom wrote:
I know that the sling has been used in hunting and combat. But I'm curious on how accurate could a person be with a sling and could a skilled "Slingsman" kill a grown man with a single well aimed throw?


ever heard of David and Goliath? Wink hehehhe i would agree with the other gentlemen that a sling could and can be a very dangerous weapon in the hands of a skilled person.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2009 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sheepherding largely consists of hanging around watching sheep eat, which means that you have a LOT of time to practice...
This is comparable to the mongols and other steppe people. Nothing much to do but ride, shoot, or ride AND shoot.
Sheepherds don't have horses, so their options are even more limited.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2009 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Riopel wrote:
The only advantages bows of the time had were that they required less room to use, and could shoot in an arc. Both things a sling could not be used for.


I don't think this is correct; being both an archer and a slinger myself (though evidently more skilled in the former than the latter), I can say that slings can be used in far less space than many people seem to think. I first got an inkling of it when I read of Arther Ferrill's mention of an entirely vertical single swing with a relatively short sling, but I didn't quite get his point until I tried it myself and found that it's actually easier (for me) to sling accurately with a single overhand swing than with the commonly-described technique of whirling the sling several times in a lateral/diagonal circle, not to mention that the vertical swing took a huge deal less space. On the other hand, an archer needs significantly more space than most non-archers seem to think--space for things like drawing the arrow out of the quiver, not to mention raising and drawing the bow and following up the release. The last factor is especially important in Far Eastern styles (like the Chinese) where you're supposed to fling your arm straight backwards after the release. If the archers had been packed like fish in a barrel, this would have resulted in many a bloody nose or bruised shoulder in the second rank. In the end, the slinger would still have needed a bit more space than the archer, especially in the back-to-front dimension, but the difference isn't likely to be that large if the commander of the archers didn't want his (or her?) rear-rank archers to keep mowing down their foremost comrades with "friendly" shots.

Additionally, a sling can be perfectly used to launch a projectile along a high arc with an underarm swing that's hardly more complicated to learn than the overhand one. This may have been an explanation for why ancient slingers were said to have consistently outranged their bow-armed counterparts; a slinger who could make a distant shot with an underarm swing would definitely have been able to cast his stone farther than an archer who wasn't sufficiently well-practiced in high-trajectory shots--and not all archers were; hunters, for example, wouldn't have needed to do massed high-trajectory shooting, so they probably wouldn't have honed that skill much before they were called to war.

The only clear advantages that the bow has over the sling is that it's more usable in less-than-optimal conditions--you can loose an arrow at less than full draw, but you wouldn't want to let a slingstone go before it has gone the full course of the desired arc--and that the bow is much, much easier to use from the back of a moving horse (or at least it would seem to be--I've never tried to sling from horseback, but horse archery came quite naturally once I had absorbed the fundamental skills of foot archery).


Last edited by Lafayette C Curtis on Sun 12 Apr, 2009 9:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2009 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I made myself some "staff-slings" one time. I made a couple of three footers and a five and a half footer. However, they were based on Trebuchet designs and had the longer 5/6 or 6/7 ratio (I forget the exact ratio) between the string and arm.

The three footers my brother and I used to whack trees with up to two-three inch thick stones. We agreed that a blow from one of those probably wouldn't be fatal, but could easily knock someone out, maybe fracture bones.

Now the five footer could hurl rocks of much larger size. I once threw a brick out of it, though I favored stones about 1/2-3/4 fist-sized. Those could kill, I've no doubt. I was flinging them down the road and made sure to keep an eye out for cars because I didn't think a windshield would stop a throw.

Say, anybody else with experience: Do you get a kick out of flinging funky shaped stones and listen to them "singing" as they fly? Big Grin I always loved the noise, even if the shape made it fly a little randomly.
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Andy C. Nystrom





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2009 9:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote
I tried it myself and found that it's actually easier (for me) to sling accurately with a single overhand swing than with the commonly-described technique of whirling the sling several times in a lateral/diagonal circle[/quote]

Now I'm no slinger but from what I have been reading when preparing to sling anything more than two revolutions is a waste of energy and disrupts accuracy. Supposedly the mark of a good slinger is the ability to maximize power and accuracy with a single revolution.

On youtube their are a few techniques demonstrated. My favorite is the byzantine style, greek is interesting aswell. As for a horse slinger, I don't know about accuracy or effectiveness but the comanche style slinging (again viewable on youtube) seems to be the best technique it appeasr as a simple overhand throw with no revolutions of any kind. Very quick and aburpt.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, in the times since antiquity, it still seems that bows have been massively favoured for hunting and war. Thus it would be natural to asume that they perform better than slings in the significant fields, though slings are usefull as well.
"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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David Lewis Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2009 6:28 pm    Post subject: a slinging forum         Reply with quote

http://www.slinging.org/

ask here, they will know what your question is about

David L Smith
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2009 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Assuming that a warrior had any skill with the sling I can see one as a useful backup weapon that any and all warriors could carry in their kit as a survival tool. Any infantry unit trapped or surrounded without a missile unit for support could defend itself from attacking missile units such as horse archer, archers, skirmishers etc ....

Obviously good slingers would be a lot more effective than mediocre ones but in some cultures just about every boy would learn how to use the sling and having every soldier carry one would have advantages.

Only the best elite slingers would be used as full time slingers as their primary weapon in such a case.

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Chris Arrington





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2009 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I watched a show on Spike TV last night called "Deadliest Warrior". ( http://www.spike.com/show/31082 ) Mostly stupid trash talk and speculation by MMA and other martial arts experts about which "type" of warrior would win versus another. In this episode it was Apache vs Gladiator.

One portion of the show that was very interesting however, was where they tested the various weapons used by those warriors on both, sides of beef, and more particularly pretty accurate ballistic gel and synthetic bone/organs/blood, "dummies".

You can watch the complete show at the link above. I suggest skipping thru the non weapon testing portions.

One test that applies to this thread, was the use of the above discussed dummies and a simulated sling bullet ( they first measured the velocity of a bullet thrown with a sling, and then used an air cannon with the same size bullet and velocity against the dummy. I assume this was for accuracy of impact area). Admittedly the range was short, about 10 yards.

The sling bullet hit just between the base of the nose and the top of the mouth. Put simply, it was devastating. It penetrated the ballistic gel flesh, shatter the upper portion of the mouth, palate, and nose. And lodged deeply in the brain.

Two other interesting tests were the impact of a tomahawk to the back of the skull (ballistic gel and synthetic skull), and a gladiator weapon which looked like a metal half moon attached to an arm armor piece (side of beef).

Worth the time to watch.
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2009 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, and in a highly accurate manner.

I did a good deal of research on the sling a few months back. I was suprised at the accuracy and lethality of it.

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Eric Meulemans
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2009 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Arrington wrote:
I watched a show on Spike TV last night called "Deadliest Warrior"... One test that applies to this thread, was the use of the above discussed dummies and a simulated sling bullet ( they first measured the velocity of a bullet thrown with a sling, and then used an air cannon with the same size bullet and velocity against the dummy. I assume this was for accuracy of impact area). Admittedly the range was short, about 10 yards."


I was surprised that it was the gladiator using the sling, as it is a weapon I associate with the Apache, but not with gladiators (as opposed to Roman auxilia). Still, the test does show that even in the hands of a relative novice, the sling can be a handily lethal weapon.

For a much more telling (if less showy) demonstration of what a sling can do, reference Balearic Island slinging champion Luis Pons Livermore. In this test he fires a stone at - and strikes - a target only 4.6 sq. inches in size atop a 9 foot pole with a force of 3.62 kn (813 lbs). I'm afraid there's no simple conversion for that into English units of actual energy, but they cite it being equivalent to that required to break a concrete block in half (or irreversibly damage the human brain).
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2009 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Riopel wrote:
Edit: Instead of starting a new thread, i'll ask about this here instead.
I've read that one of the advantages to slinging is being able to use a shield at the same time, but how often was this actually done?


Well it looks like it wasn't unheard. Sorry about the size.



 Attachment: 76.78 KB
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Timothy Potter




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2009 5:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Can the Shepards Sling be lethal on one throw?         Reply with quote

Andy C. Nystrom wrote:
I know that the sling has been used in hunting and combat. But I'm curious on how accurate could a person be with a sling and could a skilled "Slingsman" kill a grown man with a single well aimed throw?


In answer to the question of the potential accuarcy of the sling, here is a quote from the Bible:

"Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling a stone at a hair, and not miss. " Judges 20: 16

From a historical perspective, it is interesting to note that battle these slingers fought in took place prior to the famous combat between David and Goliath.
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Anthony Riopel





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2009 11:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
Anthony Riopel wrote:
Edit: Instead of starting a new thread, i'll ask about this here instead.
I've read that one of the advantages to slinging is being able to use a shield at the same time, but how often was this actually done?


Well it looks like it wasn't unheard. Sorry about the size.


Thanks for the image, it's definately something to look into for me Happy


I'll put the pictures up if I ever get my medieval slingers kit together.

Be wary the wrath of a patient man.
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