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Accuracy of Slingers (Read 11225 times)
TheAznValedictorian
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Accuracy of Slingers
Nov 8th, 2009 at 8:43pm
 
Someone in another forum stated that "even amongst the most advanced bows (and slingers) the odds of hitting a large group of men from the usual distance range of a battle was about 22%"

Now, this seems like he just pulled this out of his a**. Not surprisingly, I wasn't able to find any sources that have statements anyhere near the quote. Furthermore, most reliable historians that I have talked to think that there should be no problem hitting a large enemy formation at the distance. This leads me to believe that the person quoted above is lying.

However, I also -  besides the words of the military historians -  cannot find any statistics that deal with the accuracy of archers/slingers.

Do you guys have any sources that I can use? If it's a book, can you please provide the page number?

Thank you
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David Morningstar
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #1 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 5:19am
 

Looking at the very large numbers of men involved in ancient battles I am confident that even I could drop a stone into the enemies ranks at my own maximum range (120 yards, which is rubbish really)

Whether that stone would hit a soldier or land on the ground or hit a shield is up to chance. But then, I'll have a bag with a hundred stones, I'll be throwing a shot every six seconds and with a hundred other slingers we will have a rate of fire equal to two modern machineguns (1000 rounds per minute)

If there was just a single person out there they would probably be able to run right up to me and stick a sword through me before I hit them  Grin
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #2 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 3:47pm
 
yep he did pull it out of his fundament Smiley

Most of us are pretty good at hitting large targets from a distance.
I frequently sling into woods, you hear the thunk and say, as confidently as possible: 'yep, that's the tree I was aiming at'.

Hitting a particular individual in a battle formation - that's a different kettle of octopus entirely.

but any half decent slinger would have been capable of getting a stone on target 100% of the time.
and if they were using lead glandes then you're talking up to and probably beyond 300 yards range.
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Thearos
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #3 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 4:09pm
 
Livy 38.29 for the siege of Same in 189 re accurate aimed fire against sorties
Thuc. 2.81 for Akarnanian slinger-sniping in 429 BC.

well-known (indeed, discussed on this site)
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #4 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 4:31pm
 
TheAznValedictorian wrote on Nov 8th, 2009 at 8:43pm:
Someone in another forum stated that "even amongst the most advanced bows (and slingers) the odds of hitting a large group of men from the usual distance range of a battle was about 22%"

Now, this seems like he just pulled this out of his a**. Not surprisingly, I wasn't able to find any sources that have statements anyhere near the quote. Furthermore, most reliable historians that I have talked to think that there should be no problem hitting a large enemy formation at the distance. This leads me to believe that the person quoted above is lying.

However, I also -  besides the words of the military historians -  cannot find any statistics that deal with the accuracy of archers/slingers.

Do you guys have any sources that I can use? If it's a book, can you please provide the page number?

Thank you


My GUESS is, as the 22% figure sounds so definite it may have been based on some independent research or an assumption that a stone thrown randomly into a crowd has a 22% chance of hitting someone, as a function of the density of the crowd not the specific accuracy of the slinger. Of course that figure would be fairly suspect; depends how closely packed the crowd is and how close to vertically the stone was falling. A shot coming in horizontally would have a much better chance of connecting than one falling vertically which would have to landon a person's head or shoulders

At distances of over 70m or so it is unlikely that slingers would be aiming at specific targets, merely landing their stones within the enemy ranks. So you technically you have no problem "hitting a large enemy formation" ie. the stone lands in their midst but it still may not hit anyone and causes no casualty.

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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #5 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 4:38pm
 
Even I feel that I would hit an enemy group of men, most of the time, if they was within my reach.  Such general accuracy simply takes a bit of focused practice, after the basic mastering of the sling is acquired.
It is the pin-point accuracy that is difficult.
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TheAznValedictorian
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #6 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 5:07pm
 
The person also says something like this:

This may seem extraordinarily high, but when taken into account that this would be your odds of hitting a group of naked men, the inefficiency of the projectile is shown. With armor on, a soldiers odds of wounding or death from an arrow/gland was about 10%, most being stopped by the soldiers armor or flat out missing. When taken into account the shield coupled with armour, the odds of a soldier being wounded or killed is less than one percent (estimated in under .5%). This means that out of 1,000 projectiles fired, only 5 men would be wounded or killed.

Even if he counted only death, his statement was widely wrong already. In this statement, he claims that only 5 people out of 1000 would be dead + wounded - the rest 995 soldiers aren't supposedly even wounded at all. Arrrgh, I can't wait to call him out on his BS. Unfortunately, I have to do things right now.  Angry
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #7 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 5:42pm
 
TheAznValedictorian wrote on Nov 9th, 2009 at 5:07pm:
The person also says something like this:

This may seem extraordinarily high, but when taken into account that this would be your odds of hitting a group of naked men, the inefficiency of the projectile is shown. With armor on, a soldiers odds of wounding or death from an arrow/gland was about 10%, most being stopped by the soldiers armor or flat out missing. When taken into account the shield coupled with armour, the odds of a soldier being wounded or killed is less than one percent (estimated in under .5%). This means that out of 1,000 projectiles fired, only 5 men would be wounded or killed.

Even if he counted only death, his statement was widely wrong already. In this statement, he claims that only 5 people out of 1000 would be dead + wounded - the rest 995 soldiers aren't supposedly even wounded at all. Arrrgh, I can't wait to call him out on his BS. Unfortunately, I have to do things right now.  Angry


It would be very interesting to know who this person is and how he came to arrive at those figures. However if slinging at a body of armored men carrying shields I personally think his estimate of less than 1% of any given stone causing a death or significant injury is probably realistic. Chances of a harmless hit or minor injury much higher of course.  This is at distances of >100m naturally.

BTW the stats are 5 casualties per 1000 shots, not quite the same as 5 casualties per 1000 men.


Keep us posted!

PS. Casualties for unarmored warriors such as Polynesians would probably be higher but they would also likely be more spread out so chances of a complete miss would also be higher.
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #8 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 7:59pm
 
I think its a very similar situation to hunting (shooting) ducks and geese. You don't just shoot into the flock. You pick out one bird and shoot it or most of the time you will go home empty handed.

walter
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #9 - Nov 9th, 2009 at 8:07pm
 
Xen. Anab. (Book 3.3) describes the experience of retreating under constant harrassing fire by archers and slingers.

After this, they breakfasted and crossed the river Zapatas, marching in regular order, with the beasts and mob of the army in the middle. They had not advanced far on their route when Mithridates made his appearance again, with about a couple of hundred horsemen at his back, and bowmen and slingers twice as many, as nimble fellows as a man might hope to see. He approached the Hellenes as if he were friendly; but when they had got fairly to close quarters, all of a sudden some of them, whether mounted or on foot, began shooting with their bows and arrows, and another set with slings, wounding the men. The rearguard of the Hellenes suffered for a while severely without being able to retaliate, for the Cretans had a shorter range than the Persians, and at the same time, being light-armed troops, they lay cooped up within the ranks of the heavy infantry, while the javelin men again did not shoot far enough to reach the enemy's slingers. This being so, Xenophon thought there was nothing for it but to charge, and charge they did; some of the heavy and light infantry, who were guarding the rear, with him; but for all their charging they did not catch a single
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #10 - Nov 10th, 2009 at 7:01am
 
TheAznValedictorian wrote on Nov 9th, 2009 at 5:07pm:
The person also says something like this:

This may seem extraordinarily high, but when taken into account that this would be your odds of hitting a group of naked men, the inefficiency of the projectile is shown. With armor on, a soldiers odds of wounding or death from an arrow/gland was about 10%, most being stopped by the soldiers armor or flat out missing. When taken into account the shield coupled with armour, the odds of a soldier being wounded or killed is less than one percent (estimated in under .5%). This means that out of 1,000 projectiles fired, only 5 men would be wounded or killed.

Even if he counted only death, his statement was widely wrong already. In this statement, he claims that only 5 people out of 1000 would be dead + wounded - the rest 995 soldiers aren't supposedly even wounded at all. Arrrgh, I can't wait to call him out on his BS. Unfortunately, I have to do things right now.  Angry


Is this from some game playing web site? It seems to be the kind of calculations that one sees there. However, garbage in garbage out.... perhaps the result of some simulation.
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #11 - Nov 10th, 2009 at 7:11am
 

I have been trying to find that reference to Roman archers and slingers practicing at the same target at 180 yards... any ideas who/where that is?

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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #12 - Nov 10th, 2009 at 7:24am
 
This book talks about archery and musketry hit rates, with references: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=y1ngxn_xTOIC&lpg=PA30&ots=KbjVbL6gtJ&dq=roman...

It also writes about Vegetius saying a man-sized target at 600 feet is passing grade for a Roman slinger - which I seriously doubt!?
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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #13 - Nov 10th, 2009 at 7:35am
 
David Morningstar wrote on Nov 10th, 2009 at 7:24am:
This book talks about archery and musketry hit rates, with references: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=y1ngxn_xTOIC&lpg=PA30&ots=KbjVbL6gtJ&dq=roman...

It also writes about Vegetius saying a man-sized target at 600 feet is passing grade for a Roman slinger - which I seriously doubt!?

Great - so that's where this 22% comes from. Seems to have lots of citations, so it must be true Grin

It also seems that Vegetius was referring to the staff sling in this passage. The Wiki (on this site) quotes the passage as:

The exact origin and age of the staff-sling are unknown. The first historical source to mention it is the Roman military writer
Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus in his book De Re Militari. Vegetius lived in the fourth century AD. He mentions the weapon as standard military equipment and gives the range for practice:

   "The archers and slingers set up bundles of twigs or straw for marks, and generally strike them with arrows and with stones from the fustibalus at the distance of six hundred feet."

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Re: Accuracy of Slingers
Reply #14 - Nov 10th, 2009 at 8:08am
 
Here is another excellent website (apart from the ads):

http://garyb.0catch.com/site_map.html

Slingers are listed under 'The Skirmishers'
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