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Did David use a staff sling? (Read 14644 times)
tricocloud
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Did David use a staff sling?
May 16th, 2007 at 10:39am
 
Newbie here. I've done a cursory search of this site and the forum. I think I may have stumbed across something new that I would like to contribute to the conversation. Apparently no one has suggested the possibility that David used a staff sling.

This insight may explain something that had always rung off key to me in the account before now, Goliath's comment:

    And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" (1 Samuel 17:43)

"Sticks"? A shepherd's staff? But then why would David carry a staff into a death match? One entry in this forum suggests that the staff was "camouflage". But why not that David was actually using a staff sling? The sling could have been wrapped around the staff for transport, as suggested here-- http://www.lloydianaspects.co.uk/weapons/staffsling.html --making the true nature of the weapon unapparent.

This wouldn't explain the plural form in Goliath's taunt--"sticks"--but maybe that was just a generalization. As in, "Whachya gonna do, throw sticks at me?"

Am I actually the first to suggest this?
http://tricocloud.com/cgi-bin/cblog/index.php?/archives/84-David-and-his-sling.h...
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Dravonk
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #1 - May 16th, 2007 at 10:48am
 
Welcome to the forums!

Would a staff sling have the necessary accuracy? I doubt it, as the release is automatic and you have almost no immediate control over it. (But I haven't tested staff slings yet).

I guess the stick was a separate weapon. A staff can be quite dangerous, too, though I do not know how well it does against someone armed with spear and sword. Still I guess that David would have used it as close combat weapon if it had been necessary.
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tricocloud
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #2 - May 16th, 2007 at 10:57am
 
Thanks for the welcome, Dravonk.

I haven't tried a staff sling either (or for that matter a hand sling since I was a kid). But I'm guessing that the accuracy would actually be improved, not decreased, because of the fixed release position. And basic physics tells me that the projectile speed and weight would both be increased too, no?
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tricocloud
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #3 - May 16th, 2007 at 11:03am
 
And another point. Any other explanation has to account for what the combattant did with a staff when using the sling, which requires both hands.
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slingbadger
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #4 - May 16th, 2007 at 12:07pm
 
The short staff, or crook is a traditional shepherd implement. It is rather like a cane. It could be used to give the sheep a good whack when needed. The hook could be used to grab sheep legs, or even hook around a neck when needed.
   Almost every picture of a shepherd has them with some kind of crook. They were almost an extension of the arm, so I can see David walking up with it.
    I spent a couple of years in Scotland, and most of the sheep farmers still carry some version of this with them.
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Dravonk
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #5 - May 16th, 2007 at 2:16pm
 
You can sling using one hand. I'd imagine him holding the staff and some stones in one hand and the sling in the other. Fill the pouch (now you would hold the staff, the stones and the loaded pouch in one hand), drop the pouch, pull it back very quickly and do an overhand throw. I need to find a good staff so I can try a David-vs.-Goliath scenario. Wink
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Yahweh Bless you in Yeshua
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #6 - May 16th, 2007 at 2:54pm
 

I don't discount the possibility that David discovered the benefit of a weighted miniature one handed staff sling which is highly accurate for single overhand use and looks rather like a club.....however, I think it much more likely that his shepherd's staff was at his side, just in case.  Also, perhaps the dynamics of holding a grounded or extended staff in one hand while slinging with the other may have provided some, as yet, unrevealed benefit.


TS
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tricocloud
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #7 - May 16th, 2007 at 4:07pm
 
Interesting replies here, thanks.

Question: is there any reason why a shepherd's staff and a staff sling could not have been the same piece of wood?

On the rocks in the off hand, I didn't use a sling much when I was a kid, but I did use a slingshot for hours and hours at a time roaming the countryside in Montana. And got quite good with it. I carried the rocks in my pocket. The pouch referred to in the biblical account would be necessary for the size of the projectile that a sling uses. On the basis my limited and only-somewhat-related experience, you wouldn't want to carry more than one rock in your off hand for any length of time.

As to the question of carrying the staff in the off hand, the Goliath account emphasizes David's being at ease with what he was used to, refusing Saul's body armor for the weapons he knew. So I can see him carrying the staff for that reason. I still find it hard to believe that he actually held on to it when slinging, though the stabilization question is interesting.

Goliath's reference to "sticks" might have been in contrast to the size of his own spear emphasized in the story--a "mine's bigger" kinda trash talking.

TS, I can't find any refs on this site to the miniature staff sling you referenced.  Can you point me someplace?

In related news, I spent the afternoon modifying a long pole lacrosse stick (head removed) to use as a staff sling. My college-age, former lacrosse captain/defenseman son helped, and then we went to his old high school to try it out.

We didn't really get everything right until just before he had to leave. But he confirms the obvious point that it could throw much harder/faster than the unmodified stick could. (It's nice when you can impress a teenager!)
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Dravonk
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #8 - May 16th, 2007 at 5:12pm
 
I have no links yet, but I think TechStuf talks about a small staff sling where the release cord runs down the entire length of the staff instead of being fixed using a loop. You would hold the release cord with one finger to the staff and you could release it the moment you want to. There are reports here that this sling is quite accurate and powerful.
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #9 - May 16th, 2007 at 6:18pm
 

Yes, if David used a staff sling, (a big IF) it was certainly shorter, unconventional, as conventional staff slings would be inefficient for lighter stones and the speed necessary to contend with a single individual.

Maybe I'll get a video clip posted, demonstrating the art of the short staff sling.

Huh


TS
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #10 - May 16th, 2007 at 7:25pm
 
Yahweh Bless you in Yeshua wrote on May 16th, 2007 at 6:18pm:
Maybe I'll get a video clip posted, demonstrating the art of the short staff sling.

Huh


TS


Egarly waiting!
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #11 - May 16th, 2007 at 7:46pm
 
Quote:
since goliath would be well aware of the deadliness of the sling, i think david carried a staff as camouflage, and hid the sling until goliath was within range.  goliath mentions the staff in the account in a mocking fashion....


NB i posted this in "is it real? david and goliath"

i don't think david used a staff sling for the above reason - it's possible he was trying to give the impression that he was armed with a staff only, to lure goliath into hand-to-hand combat.  then david took out his sling and the rest, as they say, is anecdote...... 

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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #12 - May 16th, 2007 at 7:55pm
 
the staff sling seems to be a weapon to defend forts, or launch projectiles at galleys (pots of embers, greek fire, or live snakes, to disrupt the rowers and stop the ship)
the staff sling would have been easier to use from a ship or on battlements (where men would be concentrated in a small area) because of it's overhead throw, plus it can shoot bigger heavier projectiles, which are less easily carried on foot, but more easily stacked behind a battlement, fascine, ship, or other  fixed station. 
it thus seems unlikely that any lightly-armoured man would carry one, or that it would be confused as a "staff" in any case.

SV
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #13 - May 16th, 2007 at 8:30pm
 
I can carry two five-ounce stones in one hand without a problem.  But I do prefer to keep them in a bag or my pocket.  Five ounces is all David would need; elsewhere I and others have run the numbers, and a five-ounce stone from a sling packs as much punch as a round from a Colt .45 pistol.

The way I read it, David carried his staff in one hand (left?), and his sling in the other, and kept the stones in some kind of satchel (maybe similar to the one that Barak Bruard's brother carried).  So I also do not think it was a staff sling.

I think that Goliath's remark about sticks was heavy sarcasm, because he had challenged Israel to send him a champion, and out comes a kid carrying a staff, as if to beat off a bothersome dog.  David's appearance and dress constituted an insult, all by themselves, in Goliath's eyes.  I really do not know if he noticed, or cared about, the sling; the text is silent on that point.

Stringman introduced the miniature staff sling, in the topic "Impact of sling stone" (see
replies 35 through 40
).  I made myself one, and have played with it some.  I just went out and tossed a few golf balls with it, and I am pleased with how it works.  Still, it is more awkward for me to use than a regular sling.
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tricocloud
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #14 - May 16th, 2007 at 9:23pm
 
TS, I second the "eagerly waiting" comment above! But I don't understand your comment about inefficiency and lighter stones. The images that I've seen on the web of staff slings don't appear especially unwieldy. http://www.eriding.net/media/photos/history/romans/051220_pelliott_mp_his_romans...

Stones lighter than, say, lacrosse-ball size? The staff sling I was playing with this afternoon was about right for a lacrosse ball. (It was a modified lacrosse stick that I was using.) A rock of that size would not be much heavier than LAX balls are. 

But I'm liking the way your shepherd's-staff-plus-one-handed-staff-sling suggestion wraps up the plural question in the Goliath account: "sticks". A minor point, and perhaps unimportant, as Dale's comment notes.

SV, your comment about camouflage--which I referred to in the original post--seems to be based on the conventional assumption that David was using a standard sling. But the point of my post is to ask whether it might not have actually been a staff sling. To your idea, however: if the string/pouch were wound around the staff, it would not necessarily have been recognizable as a sling. So maybe we're not that far apart?

Or again, anyone, what about the combo idea--a staff/staff sling?

Yes, the staff sling idea is indeed a big if. But hey, I figure, why not make exegetical history?! (Thanks to all for indulging me!)

(Just to complicate things: Psalm 23, usually attributed to David, mentions TWO shepherding "sticks": "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.")
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