Guides and Articles
Member Gallery
Historical Gallery
Media Gallery
Sling Ranges
Textual Resources

Other Websites


I'm happy to answer any questions or give advice. If you have some ideas or experiences you would like to share, consider submitting and article for publication on the site. You can contact me at

La Honda Manchega (Sling in La Mancha) - Pío Santiago

Encouraged by the posts in the forum, I was trying to find what type of sling was used by sheperds to hit Don Quixote de La Mancha, in the inmortal book written by Miguel de Cervantes.

It’s not easy. Nowadays, slings aren’t almost in use neither in my country nor in my region. Shepherds lead cattle with the help of dogs and, in fact, most of them are not Spanish but immigrants: it’s difficult to find the tradition on the slings in times of Don Quijote, or how shepherds usedthem.

I have found a good information in Montiel (Ciudad Real, Spain), a small village with a lot of history: many famous battles took place in it, one of which allowed Elisabeth to rise to the throne of Castile. This Queen, Isabel la Católica financed Christopher Colón's voyage to America.

Finally, I found D. Fernando. He is not like the well known Apache Grandfather, but old enough to remember the way shepherds used to sling when he was young, and gentle enough as to make one for me, to present it in this site. Here it is:

I see notable differences between all the usual slings I have seen and those of La Mancha:

  • Slings “manchegas” are really big (long and broad): on handing one, one has the feeling of a weapon in the hand, not a more or less dangerous toy like mines.
  • The material for the braiding was very varied, what they had near by, but fundamentally plant fibers like hemp or sisal, better “esparto” or “pita.”
  • The retention cord is longer (120 cm) than the release one (100 cm), with no finger loop. The retention cord is hold rolled around the hand, as the picture shows.

  • The missiles were rounded stones bigger then a tennis ball.
  • The pouch (called “buttonhole”) is aprox. 17 cm long.

Some details:

  • The shot is horizontal, helicopter, "because it is the form with which a major scope is obtained."
  • Shepherds were taking their sling around the body, from the right shoulder down to the left hip, with a knot in the chest that could be released quickly.
  • The one that I present in the photographies is done with plastic fibers, because D. Fernando had not esparto at home.
  • The sling was used as a defensive weapon against beasts or people, more than to direct the cattle. Their principal aim wasn’t hiting, but to scare the enemy and to dissuade from approaching the sheeps or cows.
  • This kind of sling is reliable and shoots strongly. Although shepherds of the past have much more capacity in slinging than me, in my first shot I succeeded hiting in the center of an olive tree more than 80m away. I had heard in another village, El Robledo, that somebody had killed a cow with a sling ... now I think that it could be possible.

How they made slings:

A picture is better than a thousand words. I’ll ilustrate the process with one made by me in two colours for better understanding (I hope). It’s smaller than D.Fernando’s, for my usual stones, less than a golf ball.

  • Slings were braided. Usually they began knotting three strings (better, groups of plant fibers), and go ahead braiding. I have used 3x3m cords.
  • On having come to the wished size for starting the “buttonhole”, they added three short strings more (aprox. 30cm), to complete the pouch, so that each cord of it have the same width than the retention and the release ones.

  • Finnished the buttonhole (aprox. 8cm), they continue as in the beginning.

  • The release cord also ended with a big knot, as the first one.


I have tried both (D. Fernando’s and mine). Both are very comfortable and the retention cord never slides, and there is some difference between one and the other..

It seems to me that I am going to change the way I make my slings. With smallers slings as mine, I feel better grasping de cord in this other way:


-Pío Santiago


© 2007