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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> ancient slingers training?
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Message started by Parmenion on Aug 2nd, 2017 at 4:07pm

Title: ancient slingers training?
Post by Parmenion on Aug 2nd, 2017 at 4:07pm
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Liv.+38+29&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0144


Quote:
These men had been in the habit, as their fathers had before them, of practicing with their slings, with which they used to hurl into the sea the round stones lying on the beach. [5] In this way they gained a more accurate and longer range than the Baliaric slingers.


1)How throwing into the sea can make you better?(since there is no target for accuracy, and it's difficult to measure distance)

2)Why would it be better than throwing at land?


Quote:
[7] They used to send their stones through rings at a great distance, as targets, and were thus able to hit not only the head but whatever part of the face they aimed at.


3) Why use rings as targets?


in de re militari :
http://www.digitalattic.org/home/war/vegetius/index.php#b215
@THE DRILLING OF THE TROOPS


Quote:
The archers and slingers set up bundles of twigs or straw for marks, and generally strike them with arrows and with stones from the fustiablus at the distance of six hundred feet. They acquired coolness and exactness in acnon from familiar custom and exercise in the field. The slingers should be taught to whirl the sling but once about the head before they cast the stone.


bundles of twigs or straw seems to me as a better target than rings...

4)do you know any other sources on ancient slingers' training?


Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Thearos on Aug 2nd, 2017 at 5:39pm
There also are the various references to Baleares teaching their children to sling by putting their food up in trees and asking them to shoot it down.

On the Achaians and their slinging, I would say

1. Slinging by the seaside: good consistent ammo, so teaches you good consistent shooting at full power and long distance (whanging with control, if you want)
2. Rings as target: pretty hard to hit, and any hit that's not perfect hits the ring and, um, makes it ring. So unlike the modern Balearic target where the "ping" announces the "diana", the hit on the central metal, the Achaians' target "pings" when the shot is not perfectly aligned.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Parmenion on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 3:22am

Thearos wrote on Aug 2nd, 2017 at 5:39pm:
2. Rings as target: pretty hard to hit, and any hit that's not perfect hits the ring and, um, makes it ring. So unlike the modern Balearic target where the "ping" announces the "diana", the hit on the central metal, the Achaians' target "pings" when the shot is not perfectly aligned.


have you played basketball without a net ? when you throw a perfect shot and the ball doesn't touch anything and passes throw the ring there is no feedback, other people watching from different angles may say that it passed by the side of the ring and you didn't score.

the rings are at great distance so it will be easier for the slinger to confuse an accurate throw with an inaccurate one.
with no feedback when you are accurate i don't see a reason to bother and make a ring instead of bundles of twigs.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Morphy on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 9:28am
Ive been thinking about making a target with different materials to give different feedback depending on where the shot hits. Something like a thick wood target with a hole in it with a thick rubber swinging bullseye filling the hole. A hit on rubber would sound different than wood and you would instantly know if you hit the bullseye or not.

I agree that the ring seems counter productive at longer ranges.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by kicktheotter on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 10:53am
Maybe that's it. They said they would be training to hit particular parts of a soldiers face ("You should have seen the size of the one that got away!" but yeah...) so I'm guessing it would, in contrary to what they said (again "You should have seen the size..."), be used for shorter distances to practice accuracy. In war, from what I've understood, the sling was used on mass, slinging at a group of enemy soldiers so as long as it was in the right direction and at the right distance, accuracy beyond that wouldn't matter; you'll probably hit someone. Maybe the ring has just been inaccurately reported on as being for a "great distance" shot.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by kicktheotter on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 10:59am
That's all complete speculation by the way and I have nothing even close to evidence to justify it but it wouldn't be the first time a source from history was somewhat... inventive in it's depiction of reality.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Thearos on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 2:37pm
Maybe, yes. But the source is Polybios (via Livy)-- an Achaian himself (albeit from Megalepolis in the Peloponnese, i.e. part of the Achaian League), with considerable military experience and interests-- he's the guy who describes the kestrosphendone (dart-sling) among other things; he also describes the use of slings against Kelts in Central Asia Minor in 189 BCE. So it's not "a legend", but an eyewitness, contemporary historian. Not to be taken as gospel but pretty serious guy. 

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Morphy on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 3:16pm
These accounts are probably the most difficult for me to understand. How can a slinger hit a bundle of twigs at 600 feet with any consistency? Especially using the Byzantine style. How big was this bundle? Does it give any indication Thearos?

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by kicktheotter on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 3:18pm
Well if he himself is an Achaian then could it be just boasting about the home team? It does seem strange to be talking
about pinpoint accuracy and then say "great distances". It would be very hard to even see someone's face but then I guess it depends on what counts as a "great distance". It's a really interesting source for sure.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Parmenion on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 4:07pm
couldn't it be a bad description of something they used daily?
or bad translation...
in the same passage there is a description of the achaean sling with three thongs which is said to be better than others, the description there is also problematic.
couldn't they draw things back then? :P


Morphy wrote on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 3:16pm:
How can a slinger hit a bundle of twigs at 600 feet with any consistency?


in modern society we'll probably never know.

what i understand is that they trained at human size targets at a stadion distance (185m), but they fought at closer ranges like 50m which means that they could pick parts of the body to hit
if you can hit something 0.5m big(shoulder to shoulder) at 185m
then theoretically you can hit something 13cm big at 50m with the same consistency

also we don't know what good consistency is good to them or the historian ,1/5?,1/10?,1/100????



Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Morphy on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 5:30pm
  You might be right Parmenion. I know theres always more to learn with the sling so I try to keep an open mind. For what its worth my experience comes from approx. 25 years of slinging. Long time members know I am a target slinging addict. Ive done quite a bit of it, but thats another story and I dont want to make the mistake of an appeal to authority here.

My experience tells me that extremely long ranges tend to exaggerate difficulty more than can be calculated with a simple formula. Theres alot of things that come into play target slinging at very long ranges that you dont think about at say, 30 meters. One of many examples is elevation. Slinging at an imaginary point 6 inches above your target is infinitely easier than trying to imagine a point 10 feet above a target at extremely long ranges. Throw in cross winds and very slightly off kilter spins on the sling projectile and at long distances things get weird. I believe it has to do with approaching the physical limits of the human body. As you get close to it, even a little improvment becomes a monumental effort.

But who knows. I personally cant understand a person being able to hit a persons torso at nearly 200 meters with any kind of consistency. Maybe its possible, but its so much better than anything any of us have witnessed its tough to grasp.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by kicktheotter on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 6:49pm
I don't have nearly the same experience but I have to agree. It does start sounding a bit superhuman even with daily practice for many years.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Thearos on Aug 3rd, 2017 at 7:59pm
That particular bit of the Greek historian Polybios is preserved in the Roman historian Livy, who occasionally misunderstood or mistranslated Polybios Greek; and of course, there always is the risk of textual corruption. So yes, something may well be wrong in the text; and yes, Polybios is extremely proud of Achaian military prowess (he also is very keen to argue that Achaian cavalrymen or Achaian generals are the best, and it's true that the Achaian Philopoimen sounds like a pretty terrifying guy).

The context, if I remember correctly, is that the Achaian slingers at the siege of Same absolutely crushed any attempts by the besieged to mount sorties-- the volume and accuracy of Achaian sling volleys were just too much

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by slingbadger on Aug 4th, 2017 at 6:16am
Morphy, the targets were written down as man sized, so it would depend on how tall they were. Still, assuming 6ft, hitting that target at 600 ft. is impressive. Not bad for people who were the lowest of the low in the army.

  You also cannot take everything written down as gospel. They may have exaggerated many parts to make themselves look good.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Morphy on Aug 4th, 2017 at 6:55am
I agree. I think a combination of man-sized targets and a healthy amount of exaggeration makes sense.  Part of me wants to believe its true. It would be amazing to see something like that.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Bill Skinner on Aug 5th, 2017 at 11:22am
He's bragging about the archers, too.  It's rather difficult to get a self bow, which is a bow made of one piece of wood, to actually shoot an arrow 200 meters.

English long bows, with their enormous draw weights, start to drop off a lot at about that range, most max out around 200 to 225 or so.  And they shot really heavy arrows so that when they hit at those ranges, they would still do some damage.  So, as there is no evidence that they used composite bow, I think he may have been exaggerating a bit.  Move it back to 185 and I think a lot of archers with heavy bows may have been able to hit, move it back to 150 and the archery part becomes a lot more believable.

And if I am pretty sure he is exaggerating about the archers, then the same holds true for the slingers.  Unless they were using lead, in which case, getting the range wouldn't be much of a problem.  The problem will come in the form of the cost of the ammo.  Just how often would a slinger be able to practice with lead so that he could get accuracy at those ranges?  Because I doubt you would recover much of your lead.

Could the ring have been in front of a heavy canvas backstop?  They had sails back then, maybe an old sail for a back stop?  You would only be able to patch it so many times before it would need to be replaced.  It would still work to stop a lead glande at long range.   

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Thearos on Aug 5th, 2017 at 6:47pm
Roman archers could have used reflex bows (which their auxiliary units, in the high empire, did use)

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Bill Skinner on Aug 6th, 2017 at 12:27pm
Reflex or recurve bows are not as efficient as composite bows.

The tips cannot bend as much without breaking.  The further the tips move, the more the arrow accelerates.  The faster the arrow, the further it goes.

Due to its fletching, an arrow starts de accelerating as soon as it leaves the string.  The more you can bend a bow, the longer the arrow stays on the string.  That's why English longbowmen and Persians and Mongols and a bunch of other famous archers draw past their head.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Morphy on Aug 6th, 2017 at 1:16pm
Add to that, that a reflex bow and even a composite bow for that matter will not necessarily shoot further than a well made longbow. It's all design. The Chinese hornbows were unwieldy and just based on the design I would bet a well made longbow could out shoot it, all other things being equal. The Korean was very well designed, and especially once you get into war bow weights it would probably easily out shoot an English longbow.

I didn't read the article but if he's saying that about their archers I guess it's fair to say he was exaggerating a bit all around. You bring up a lot of good points. I had not considered the lead aspect either. How exactly did slingers afford to practice with lead to get that good? (Well, they probably were not that good right?  But to get as skillful as they were at least.) Or is it possible they practiced with stones and once the muscle memory was achieved they could fairly easily transition to lead?

Hmm... so much they took for granted as part of life and we will likely never know.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Thearos on Aug 6th, 2017 at 2:54pm
Aologies, I meant a composite bow. Here's a bit of Trajan's column.
images-1.jpeg (12 KB | 50 )

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Parmenion on Aug 9th, 2017 at 1:37pm
read the sources
in de re military, the drilling of the troops it also writes

Quote:
The younger soldiers and recruits went through their drills of every kind every morning and afternoon and the veterans and most expert regularly once a day.


and this is probably the reason we may never witness that kind of accuracy
how many of us train 1 time a day ? let's not talk about 2 times a day..... :P

the last 5 days i did some distance target practice @ 100m ,target: bushes

( usually i practice @20-30m target 10-20cm with 0-5% accuracy)

after this i believe that accuracy from long ranges may be transfered to close ranges but the reverse cannot

aerodynamic effects @30m affect flight path very little in contrast to 100m which a lot more factors change the point of impact

those factors mean that you must be more focused which improves your sharpness



Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Parmenion on Aug 9th, 2017 at 2:09pm
@Bill Skinner
i don't think de re militari has exaggerations
the other source may have.

i'm not an archer but what is stated about the accuracy seems to me very possible . we have extremely accurate guys in our era.

don't compare english longbows and arrows with ancient bows , its like comparing a balearic slinger throwing heavy stones with a rhodian throwing lead


Quote:
  "Even though you are viewed as the son of the heavens," said Magnagt, "I still have doubts about the combat prowess of your people. If any one of them hits with a single arrow a tiny red flag from a distance of 100 num (one num equals the length of a bowstring, or nearly 1.5 metres), I will be your ally and friend – if not, I’ll be your enemy."

On hearing this, Taitsuu, one of Chingis’s generals, began to laugh: "You offer us the warrior’s standard exercise." On his order, archery marksman Chuu Mergen stepped forward and, hardly aiming, hit the target. Shortly afterwards, another sharpshooter, Khavt Khasar, said, "It’s no challenge to hit a motionless target." He raised his bow and with a single arrow pierced the neck of a drake flying high in the sky. No sooner had the falling bird touched the ground than Khavt Khasar hit it with another arrow.


source:http://www.atarn.org/mongolian/mn_nat_arch/messenger.htm

the accuracy of the archers may be exaggerated here but it clearly writes :it's "the warrior’s standard exercise."
what do you think?

you have a point about lead projectiles for practice, it would be a trouble to use lead once or twice a day . so we must assume they used stones.

and yes canvas backstop is a good idea.
maybe a target in the form of jellyfish net with canvas instead of net? :noidea:
still i find it too unnecessarily elaborate when compared to a bundle of twigs




Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Thearos on Aug 9th, 2017 at 3:19pm
Good point about long distance and short distance accuracy.

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Morphy on Aug 9th, 2017 at 4:36pm
I would like to hear Bills thoughts on this as well. The accuracy stated here, if indeed the flag was tiny and the archer barely trying, is far better than anything seen by the best modern day olympic archers using space age equipment. 

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Parmenion on Aug 18th, 2017 at 9:17am
i'm currently reading a book " the longbow" by mike loades

first an interesting thing i read:
page 26

Quote:
On june 1 1363, Edward III wrote to his sheriffs and commanded a
...proclamation to be made that every able bodied man on feast days (including sundays)when he has leisure shall in his sport use bows and arrows,bellets or bolts, and shall learn and practise the art of shooting,.....

at page 27 the author writes:

Quote:
Edward III's order was not restricted to longbow archery; practice with the sling or the crossbow('pellets or bolts') were alternative pursuits that received equal approval.

who can imagine a slinger among the archers ranks? :P


page 28

Quote:
Targets set against the backstop of the butts wre improvised and might consist of an oyster shell or a garland- a wreath of brushwood.Another popular target was the wand : a narrow stave of wood set in front of the butt, the idea being to split it with the shot.


at page 30 there is a picture of the butts with a garland set as target .http://warbowwales.com/communities/0/004/009/712/490/images/4558211777_462x173.jpg

this target might be a descendant of the targets we are discussing (rings or bundles of twigs)

the question still remains: why aim at a ring and not a wand,buckler,pelt or anything with a better feedback?

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Thearos on Aug 18th, 2017 at 2:02pm
I wonder if it's the sling or the pellet-throwing crossbow ("hunting" crossbow)

Title: Re: ancient slingers training?
Post by Morphy on Aug 18th, 2017 at 2:24pm
Pellet crossbows were pretty weak. Usually used for birds and the like. If this was military training it was probably slings.

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