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Origin & Role of The Sling (Read 7870 times)
Subotai_Ba_Atur
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #15 - Jun 18th, 2006 at 7:59pm
 
Hemp is silent, eh? Interesting. You'd still need to find the space to use it, and make sure the quarry doesn't see it, but I guess that's not too hard for a skilled and motivated hunter. Still, there has to be a reason why the bow superceded the sling in that role.

Your comment comparing it to a gun is also interesting. I've heard that skilled slingers shooting lead shot could match and often surpass the power of early firearms, and with MUCH better accuracy. Has anyone started a discussion on the sling in relation to the gun yet?
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #16 - Jun 18th, 2006 at 8:27pm
 
I started with a braided hemp sling and wondered what I did wrong because people here wrote about the whirring sound of their slings and my sling didn't. Then I made my PP rope sling and heared the whirring sound. I think it is the surface of the hemp sling with man small fibres on the surface sticking in every direction.

There is a time/money tradeoff. A sling takes much time to learn and costs nothing. A bow takes little time to learn and costs a lot. (Cost of a bow can be substitued partly with experience of building, but proper wood, horn, etc. can also be expensive.) I think the reason why the bow has gained ground is that the "cost" for "much time to learn" has increased while the financial cost of the bow has decreased.

The balearic shepards were poor (increases disadvantage for bow) and had a lot of time while looking after their sheeps (decreases disadvantage for sling). The medieval king who wanted an army had money (decreases disadvantage for bow) and wanted a big army soon (increases the disadvantage for sling). So the first selected the sling and the second the bow.

What would be interesting is why the pharaos had slings and what for.

I can't remember a "Sling vs Gun" thread. So feel free to start such a thread. (I have heard some days ago on TV that the rifles at the time of Napoleon where so week that sometimes even your clothing was enough to stop the bullet.)

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siguy
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #17 - Jun 18th, 2006 at 9:01pm
 
there have been some threads comparing the speed and power of a sling bullet next to a modern firearm.  a search of the last ten or so pages in the general forum should bring one of the more recent ones up.
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Subotai_Ba_Atur
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #18 - Jun 18th, 2006 at 9:55pm
 
Good point. Slingers in war have often been auxiliaries or mercenaries, an elite skirmishing force. They were tough to find and usually small in number. Xenophon's 10,000 (When are they gonna make a movie about those guys? They did it for the bloody Trojans and the "fabulous" Alexander! ) only had around 200 slingers if I recall correctly, all from Rhodes. For those who suck at math, that's 2%, or 1/50 (I'm such a genius).

Cheapest missile troops as far as logistics were concerned. Another interesting point is that the sling is fired one handed. In the Rise of Rome expansion to Age of Empires one, the slinger unit carries a small wooden shield to protect against arrows. Anyone know if that's historically accurate?
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« Last Edit: Jun 18th, 2006 at 11:34pm by Subotai_Ba_Atur »  

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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #19 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 1:12am
 
     Slingers!                                                                               
         Hmmmm.......an interesting thread we have here, as I have long speculated on some of these matters, myself. Now I am certainly not any sort of "expert." In fact, I always say, " 'Expert' is spelled: E-G-G.....S-P-U-R-T!" So now that you've been warned, let's see.......in no particular order.......                                                                           
                                                                                                        
         First off, some years ago I took a bunch of Defense Tactics classes that were quite fascinating. Impact weapons were a major part of the "curriculum." Most people BADLY UNDERESTIMATE the effectiveness of blunt trauma ( impact .) Now it may be that it would be difficult to bring down a deer with a sling ( as the head is a small target and the body is resilient ) but this is not true for any number of smaller and slower animals, some of which tend to "freeze" when alarmed, making it easier for a skilled slinger. Thus the sling is the neolithic equivalent of the modern .22 rimfire, well suited for small game hunting, or the modern shotgun loaded with birdshot, as birds are VERY plentiful ( they tend to come in flocks! ) and very good eating.                                                                                          
         Zwiebelteute, I think you are on the right track in considering economic factors and a cost/benefit analysis. The sling is easy to make and rocks are everywhere, thus even if it has limitations you are still better off with it than without it, because it has cost you so little to obtain a sling and stones. Note that historically arrows were expensive to make, whereas rocks can be had for free.                                    
         As far as warfare is concerned, let me again suggest that slingers may have been used in hurling massed volleys rather like the flintlock muskets of the 1700's. Of course arrows were used this way too ( English longbow ) but I suspect that a major factor was the widespread use of metal body armour, first chainmail, then plate, in medieval Europe, which would render the sling ineffective. If you go back to the early classical era, we know that at least some of the Greeks ( Xenophon and the 10,000 ) had bronze armor, but the Persians apparently did not, except maybe for a few "bigshots."    
         Some years ago I read a fascinating book called "War Before Civilization" where the author discusses many archaeological sites that show signs of attack and defence. Unfortunately, human beings are fragile and easy to damage, and easy to.......uh......."render permanently inoperative." Thus any weapon that can be used to hunt game can also be used against humans. But "that's the way the cookie crumbles."                                                                         
                                                                                               
         Also let me welcome Subotai Ba Atur to the forum. Subotai, a handful of posts under your belt and you are already causing a ruckus.
Yup, I can see you're gonna fit right in around here! Shocked  .......Dan Grin
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #20 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 3:45am
 
At least most depictions of ancient slingers show them without shields. The slinger on the Trajan column is sometimes interpreted as holding a shield, independed if he has or not I think that the column is not necessarily historical correct.

I believe, that the pure slingers didn't have shields. Holding a shield certainly reduces fire rate and the only protection it provides is from arrows. If they did come in contact with main infantry they were dead with or without shield. A shield would reduce probably their life expectancy there as it would slow them down running.

Fighter where the sling was an add-on weapon probably had shields as they did fight with infantry.

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siguy
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #21 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 10:47am
 
if i were a slinger i might carry a small light sheild just to stop arrows.  to tell you the truth, i would probably also carry a short sword and several daggers incase i came up against infantry.

in my perfect world the light infantry man of the old days would have an atlatl with a few darts and/or a few throwing javelins and a sling with a pouch full of ammo and a light sheild (possibly wicker or something ) and would bob in and out of the forest taking down the opposing side's men without being seen.
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #22 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 11:17am
 
  I think its interesting that the archeological evidence shows that defensive walls showed up at the same time that slings were known to be used in battle.
As for hunting, They, weren't, at least in the Middle ages.
  The hunting manuals of the time state implicitly that slings were not used by "serious" (Noble) hunters. They preferred to have the quarry flushed out and netted by others, then they could come in for the kill with bow, sword or spear.
  As for the common folk, since little of their activities were recorded, ( look who was recording the deeds, the Nobles) they may have.
  There are manuscripts showing birds being slung at by people standing in a crop field, however, it is not known if they were hunting them, or just trying to scare them off.
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #23 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 12:06pm
 
Well, I don't know what they used slings for first, but they're also very nice instruments to keep your animals together. Just land a few rocks in front of them when they go where you don't want them.
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #24 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 12:16pm
 
siguy,

if you would have been able to afford a sword and serveral daggers you most probably would not have been a dedicated slinger, but an auxiliar armed and armored who by accident also carried a sling. That job would have had more prestige and probably also higher salary.

If you carry a small shield you get hit only by 2 instead of 4 arrows? I don't know how helpfull that is. I'd rather try to get out of the archers range or try to evade their arrows. Sources praise the invisibility of lead glandes, so I assume arrows can be seen and thereby more easily evaded.

A historical sample of a long range weapon with shield is a crossbowman with his pavese, a large shield which he can set onto the ground. But in a dynamic fight this is probably to heavy.

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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #25 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 12:26pm
 
I know now two depictions of a slinger having the projetiles in his cape. (Trajan's column and a tombstone) I would like to try sometimes if that works.

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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #26 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 3:07pm
 
Subotai_Ba_Atur,

Welcome!  A new voice enters the fray!

I am a bit late entering this discussion ... I am replying to what you wrote in Reply # 12 in this topic.

Most people who do not know the sling, picture a slinger swinging his sling around and around to build up speed before releasing.  This image is completely false.  The stone is accelerated almost entirely in the last 180 degrees (or less) of the swing.  See, for instance,
Sv's video of the Greek overhand style
, and
David Taylor's article
where he has several videos of Greek styles (so called because they all start with a posture like one depicted on an old Greek coin).

There are slinging styles that employ a "wind-up" swing, but that is for the purpose of getting the stone into position for the final snap; see, for example,
Jurek's video of his side-arm style
, and compare with
Sv's video of nearly the same style
.  Jurek prefers two wind-up swings, Sv prefers one.  Both put all the energy into the stone in the last 180 degrees of the swing.
(NOTE: Jurek's video is in the DivX variant of the AVI format; you may not be able to see it from your web browser.   Try saving it and viewing it with Windows Media Player.)

If you have not already, you should read
Larry Forsyth's article
, wherein he described the methods for making and using a sling that he learned from a 75-year-old Mescalero who had hunted with a sling all his life.  The fact that he did live that long, suggests that he had some success.

Also do have a look at
Zwiebeltüte's video
, which is presently the best presentation we have of the Apache style; as he states in a prior post in this topic, the cast is completed in slightly over a half-second.  I believe that the Mescalero gentleman was probably faster (though I admit releasing a bowstring is faster yet) and more powerful, but we have no film of him or anyone like him.

Concerning slings versus firearms, I did kinetic energy calculations for a 4-ounce (113 gram) rock, and compared that with what I read from a ballistics table for a .45-caliber round fired from a Colt semiautomatic sidearm, and the sling compares favorably: both are in the range of 500 joules, or 370 foot-pounds.  Of course, it takes some practice to get the necessary speed out of a sling.
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #27 - Jun 19th, 2006 at 4:04pm
 
Well, if we are comparing slings to modern compound bows which can be held at full draw for a few moments....then perhaps we can discount the draw time as part of the process, decreasing the time measurement.  Yet 'snap shooting', or drawing back to touch anchor point and instantly releasing....is prevalent in traditional archery.  Analogous to slinging, aiming is part of the drawing process......a single full arc with the sling can compare quite favorably here.  As does projectile velocity.


The thing is, to maintain the accuracy necessary for hunting, one must cast at an appreciably slower velocity than he or she is ultimately capable.


Unless one is using darts, hunting anything larger than a coyote, with possible exception of a charging lion or bear, where a fairly close shot to the forehead is available....will certainly prove much less efficient than the bow for the harvesting of game.


The sling, in it's traditonal form, is a valid and useful tool for hunting.   However I wouldn't hunt anything larger than a Coyote, unless desperate for food, and bow making material were unavailable to me.


Employing a miniature version of the staff sling, I use a method similar to the Apache.....which provides me with highest level of accuracy for the purpose of hunting.  The speed and accuracy potential could enable one to reliably harvest large game.  


As the practice required to achieve such level of proficiency is quite high compared to other hunting implements, I would never recommend it....even though it can be made to look easy to the casual observer.



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« Last Edit: Jun 19th, 2006 at 6:11pm by Yahweh Bless you in Yeshua »  

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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #28 - Jun 20th, 2006 at 12:16am
 
I think I'm being misunderstood here. I'm not that new to slinging, though I haven't done it much. I registered with this site more than a year ago, just haven't got around to posting untill last Sunday.

When comparing the sling to other weapons, like bows and guns, I'd like to leave rocks out. Since both of the latter weapons use manufactured ammunition, it's only fair that we allow the same of the sling. Firing a rock picked up from a creek is like shooting a dirty, rusty Kalashnikov. It WILL shoot and kill within about 100 yards, but I'd bring something better.

I know about the main techniques of slinging, but even with the one-swing whip, the violent action of acceleration is still much longer than with a bow. I have no doubt that if a skilled slinger did manage to hit a deer in the vitals with a lead bullet from a good sling it woud prove lethal. However, even a bow can spook a deer before the arrow finds it's mark.

Oh, I just remembered: the slingers in Rome: Total War had shields too. Not that computer games necessarily have anything to do with accuracy. When considering combat slingers, one must remember that equipment goes by what's best for the army overall rather than the individual. Aside from elite units or auxilliaries, whose members would want to maximize their offensive potential (i.e. fire rate), front line volley slingers would want to reduce casualties wth whatever means possible. A small shield isn't perfect, but it WOULD have an effect on statistics. In formation, especially when faced with volley fire, it's almost impossible to avoid incomming missiles no matter how far away you see them coming.
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Re: Origin & Role of The Sling
Reply #29 - Jun 20th, 2006 at 12:35am
 
Quote:
I know about the main techniques of slinging, but even with the one-swing whip, the violent action of acceleration is still much longer than with a bow.



I understand what you are saying.....


I have been an archer of both traditional and compound bows for nearly 20 years....and I don't know about anyone else, but I can get a rock or other ammo weighing 3 to 4 times as much as an arrow from a static position to aimed and out of my sling in the time it takes to draw, aim, and shoot that same arrow from a traditional bow.  The sling glans will have considerably more kinetic energy upon arrival to target as well.

Much longer?  Apples and Oranges.  What matters is...it can be done as fast or even faster.....and I'm sure mine is not a unique case.


TS
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