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A thread on aiming (Read 11226 times)
Morphy
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A thread on aiming
Jul 5th, 2010 at 2:39am
 
This is a thread dedicated to accuracy with the sling. It's first iteration was posted on July 11th, 2010 and it is due for an update as far as I am concerned... I will be going through and getting rid of the fluff and focusing solely on those things which are most important in an attempt to cover as much as possible in the relatively small scope that a single post can convey. Please understand that the things mentioned in this first post are universal to accuracy with any style. While other tips not covered in this first post may be specific only to a certain style. -Morphy,  March 6th, 2012

I. Ammo

A common misconception among new slingers is the idea that with enough practice any ammo will allow you to be accurate. The thought process often goes something like this: "Since a sling's natural ammo is stones, I should be able to use any stones and be accurate as long as I practice enough."

This thought process generally leads to frustration more than anything else.  For the highest degree of accuracy you must use the best ammo. So what is good ammo?

1. Shape: it should be smooth and round. No jagged edges and no flat areas. The most common shapes for a suitable stone ammo is egg shaped, football shaped or spherical/ball shaped. Any ammo with these shapes will fly as straight as you are able to sling them. You can always use less than perfect ammo when you feel like it, but remember not to expect too much accuracy if your stones are very irregular. If you sling a stone and find it makes noise in flight, that is a good indication your ammo is not ideal.

2. Weight: To be as accurate as possible ammo weight is very important. The first aspect about weight to consider is that all of your ammo should be as close to each other in weight as possible. This will help your mind correct mistakes from one shot to the next easier.  Ammo weight affects rotational speed of the sling; lighter ammo rotates faster and heavier, slower. Too great a difference from shot to shot will cause your shots to be difficult to control, and nearly impossible to really fine tune shots on small targets at longer distances. Try and have no more than a 2 ounce spread at maximum to maintain relatively good accuracy. For example: 4 ounces (115 grams) minimum weight and 6 ounces (170 grams) maximum weight or a 2 ounce (55 gram) possible variance. This is just an example, your preferred minimum/maximum weights may vary. A 2 ounce/55 gram spread is acceptable for accuracy practice. Though the smaller the target and longer the range, the more you will want to get as close to identical weights as possible. All slingers that want to achieve the best accuracy possible can benefit from attaining a cheap scale for measuring ounces/grams. Weigh your stones and either discard those that do not fall within the correct spread or save them for non-accuracy throwing.

The second important aspect of weight is that a stone that is too light does not give the feedback necessary for the proper control needed to hit small targets at longer ranges. How do you get the proper amount of feedback to be accurate? You have to have the proper amount of tension on your sling cords. Lower weights do not generate enough tension and therefore become very difficult to fine tune the control of a shot. In my experience my best accuracy comes with stones in the 5-6 ounce range. With an absolute minimum of about 4 and an absolute maximum of about 10 ounces. As you can see by that spread, ammo that is too light is much more detrimental to accuracy than ammo that is too heavy to comfortably use. You will still be surprisingly accurate even with ammo that is too heavy to sling far. You just won't have the velocity to do much with them. The best combination of both power and accuracy can often be found at about an ounce or two above what is considered at the edge of too light. Experimentation is necessary to find what works for you. I would suggest starting with 4 ounces and increasing weight while doing a lot of practice at smaller targets.

Another option is making either clay or cement ammo. All the same rules on shape and weight apply but for those of us in areas where stone does not occur naturally, this is a good option. No matter what you use, a large piece of carpet hung from a taut rope will serve well as a backstop and let you reuse your ammo almost indefinitely.


The Wind-up/Pitch

A sling throw has essentially two aspects to it. The wind-up and the pitch. The wind-up is the portion of the throw where the sling is not yet accelerating to throwing speed but is rotating fast enough to stretch the cords taut due to centrifugal force. During the wind-up your sling may not be moving all that fast. During the pitch you quickly accelerate from the slower speed of the wind-up and increase the speed enough to powerfully throw the stone.  

II. Form


Both the wind-up and pitch flow smoothly together and when taken as a whole they become your form. Your form is whatever way in which you choose to throw with your sling.  Knowing your form inside and out can mean you do not fluctuate nearly as much in your accuracy from day to day as someone who has no idea what works and what doesn't. You are looking for 2 things in proper form.

1. Control: The first aspect of proper form is control. You should feel in absolute control of how the sling moves from the beginning of the wind-up to the end of the pitch. If your sling does not feel like a perfect extension of your arm, some aspect of your slinging needs to be worked on. One example might be balance. You must have proper balance. Some prefer to keep both feet on the ground, never moving. Others prefer to step into the shot much like a baseball pitcher. Both can work, you will need to experiment to find what works for you best.

Another example: You will want to find which release angle works best for you. Some people try to release at a perfectly horizontal side-arm, some try to release in more of a vertical throwing motion while still others prefer a diagonal slashing motion. What works best for you will depend largely on your own specific style. These are just two examples. You will find many other things that can make your throw feel more or less controlled and repeatable.

Now we have talked about control, let's talk about consistency and repeatability. Consistency is the second aspect of proper form.

2. Consistency: Here's an example of the concept of consistency: Are you standing at the same angle in relation to the target every time? If not that can affect your throw. Try keeping your lead foot pointed directly at the target and use that as an anchor to get the rest of your body in the right direction. No matter where the target is, the direction of you body should always be at a consistent angle in relation to your target. This is just one example of doing your form the same way every time.

Again, practice with good ammo on smaller targets will help you understand what works best. Just keep in mind that what works for one slinger and their particular style may not always be what works best for you and your style. Remember, above all else having every shot feel controlled and consistently the same as the one before is what you are going for!

III. Your Sling

Each slinger will find certain types of slings that work well for them. For many years I swore by braided yarn slings. It was only when I put sentiment aside and forced myself to give paracord sling cords a try that I realized how much more I liked paracord instead of wool. One big reason is that wool stretches, which can add unwanted variables within your form and throw. You may like wool, or not. The point is, try all different types of slings to see what works for you. Approach new types of slings with an open mind.

I also find that heavier, stiffer cords and pouches do not work well for me. This is something to keep in mind as well. Some slings will immediately feel better to use than others. Take a good look at them and decide what exactly it is that is making it feel better. And then just as importantly, ask yourself why that particular aspect of the sling being that way helps. This can teach you more about your throwing and give you other ideas of possible improvments to try later. The difference between your control with a well made sling and a poorly made sling is quite large.

IV. Stretching

Not much to say here except that stretching is beneficial to the slinger. Keep your muscles and tendons limber and you will find you're faster, have more control and are less likely to injure yourself. Look up baseball pitching stretches if you are curious about where to start. Also keep in mind that whenever trying out new throwing styles/stone weights/slings or any combination of the above that you take it slow. If you do hurt yourself, obviously give yourself enough time to heal completely.

I threw out my elbow trying a style that was new to me and instead of letting it heal all the way I kept slinging. My elbow has not been quite the same since. Better to stop slinging a few weeks then to permanently hurt yourself.



Well, that's about it for the most general concepts in slinging. Each style has it's own peculiarities and each person will find, with enough practice, a way that works best for them. This post and thread is not an attempt to cover them all. But it should offer a good foundation for people to build up their own accuracy using techniques and tips that almost all veteran slingers find helpful.

Lastly, if you have your own tips by all means please post them below and add to the thread. -Morphy
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« Last Edit: Mar 6th, 2012 at 8:57pm by Morphy »  

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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #1 - Jul 5th, 2010 at 5:48am
 
Excellent material, thaks. I will add it into the FAQ section.
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #2 - Jul 5th, 2010 at 12:20pm
 
good points, however i can achieve consistency using any size, shape, or weight of rock (which really isn't that consistent, but i'm still able to shoot in a straight line). i think it's more on how your shooting that really makes a difference. two days ago i was slinging at the general area of a tree maybe 50 yards away. i used round and smooth, flatish but still round and smooth, slightly rougher textured block shapes that where pretty big, and chunks of concrete that where tennis ball sized. all of them flew pretty much the same, although with the larger ones i had less control, and so some of them went a little to the left (i'm a right handed sidearm). therefore, i think weight is more important for consistency than shape or texture. weight would make your slinging style faster (lighter rocks) or slower (heavy rocks). it would also effect whether your stone will go that right distance or not. use a 1/2 oz rock and unless if you have a short sling in an indoor area it will not go as far as you want it to, and so might hit lower than you want it to.

oh, just read the gifted slinger part, and even though i have a lot of posts and have been here a while more than half of the active guys here, i only sling maybe once every two or three weeks.
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #3 - Jul 5th, 2010 at 2:11pm
 
xxkid123 wrote on Jul 5th, 2010 at 12:20pm:
i think weight is more important for consistency than shape or texture. weight would make your slinging style faster (lighter rocks) or slower (heavy rocks). 


Kid, I considered putting this in as what you say is very true. Instead I just advised that rocks be separated into groups to try and cover all that. But that is a very good point, and for anyone that has experienced it, it can make a big difference on accuracy.

As far as using jagged projectiles of different shapes and sizes and retain consistent accuracy, some surely will be able to. But this is geared more towards beginners and even more experienced people that are having problems but can't seem to fix them. If you are able to hit a small rabbit sized target at 20+ yards with different shapes, sizes and weights of jagged ammo, consistently, you would definitely fall under the gifted category I mentioned.  Wink
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #4 - Jul 5th, 2010 at 8:35pm
 
Aussie wrote on Jul 5th, 2010 at 5:48am:
Excellent material, thaks. I will add it into the FAQ section.



Thanks Aussie, glad you like it.   Smiley
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #5 - Jul 5th, 2010 at 9:07pm
 
Morphy wrote on Jul 5th, 2010 at 2:11pm:
xxkid123 wrote on Jul 5th, 2010 at 12:20pm:
i think weight is more important for consistency than shape or texture. weight would make your slinging style faster (lighter rocks) or slower (heavy rocks).  


Kid, I considered putting this in as what you say is very true. Instead I just advised that rocks be separated into groups to try and cover all that. But that is a very good point, and for anyone that has experienced it, it can make a big difference on accuracy.

As far as using jagged projectiles of different shapes and sizes and retain consistent accuracy, some surely will be able to. But this is geared more towards beginners and even more experienced people that are having problems but can't seem to fix them. If you are able to hit a small rabbit sized target at 20+ yards with different shapes, sizes and weights of jagged ammo, consistently, you would definitely fall under the gifted category I mentioned.  Wink



Absolutely every variable affects the projectile's performance to some degree. Even the notion that lighter stones will give higher velocity is not invariably correct. True with very heavy stones it takes more effort to accelerate them up to speed and the final velocity may be slower than a lighter stone, but heavier stone/pouch combinations are not as affected by air drag and the sling opens out more. Rotating on a bigger effective radius means a higher velocity for the same rotational speed. Additionally heavier stones retain their velocity better so even if the launch velocity is slightly slower the velocity at the target may actually be higher. Also excessively light ammo does not push open the pouch efficiently causing a late release. Jagged or rough ammo can cause the same problem even if the weight is the same as it hangs up in the pouch.

Any stone which whirrs in flight is crap. That sound may be fun to listen to but it's eating up your projectile's limited kinetic energy at an alarming rate as well as plying havoc with any accuracy you may be hoping for. Even nicely rounded stones that are excesively flat will windplane and veer off course.

In summary, good ammunition not only flies well once released but performs predictably in whatever style pouch you have.
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #6 - Jul 5th, 2010 at 9:07pm
 
I'm a newbee, so you can take this for what it's worth.  To get the consistancy you need to hit regularly, use one type of sling and stick with one length.  Bill
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #7 - Jul 5th, 2010 at 11:38pm
 
Bill Skinner wrote on Jul 5th, 2010 at 9:07pm:
I'm a newbee, so you can take this for what it's worth.  To get the consistancy you need to hit regularly, use one type of sling and stick with one length.  Bill


I agree and would add ammo should be of one type; material, shape and weight.

walter
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #8 - Jul 6th, 2010 at 12:12am
 
For form, I find that when my form is perfect, there is a feeling of effortlessness to it.  It's like throwing someone in Judo.  I have one or two throws that feel like there is no effort involved at all, no matter how big the person is I'm throwing.  When a sling throw happens this way, I know the target is hit the second the stone leaves the sling.  Daily practice is neccesary to figure out when this feeling happens and be able to reproduce it.  It happens once or twice a session now, but when I had more time, and payed attention to it, the frequency increased.  I was consistently missing a soda can by 3 or 4 inches, with occasional direct hits, from 25 feet, with power adequate enough to penetrate the can.
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #9 - Jul 11th, 2010 at 1:06pm
 
A short post on accuracy .................  practice  Smiley  ,the rest will come with time.
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #10 - Jul 11th, 2010 at 4:09pm
 
Dan wrote on Jul 11th, 2010 at 1:06pm:
A short post on accuracy .................  practice  Smiley  ,the rest will come with time.



Relating our experiences to others allows us to help people learn much faster then if everyone had to learn everything for themselves from scratch. Write any helpful tips you might have so others don't have to make all the mistakes you did when starting out. Practice is always most important but is a given no matter what you're doing.

It's not just meant to be about the original post, but a work in progress by anyone whose slung a few rocks. I'll  change the title to reflect that.
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #11 - Jul 11th, 2010 at 5:50pm
 
Dan wrote on Jul 11th, 2010 at 1:06pm:
A short post on accuracy .................  practice  Smiley  ,the rest will come with time.


Whereas practice is indispensible, of itself it is not always enough. Look at golfers and tennis players, they will often spend countless hours (and dollars) with a coach working on some minor error in form to get their putting right or to gain a few extra yards off the tee. As a rule we slingers are solitary in the pursuit of our sport and as for coaching, how many of us have had any at all? We must be our own coaches and work on form as best we can. Take onboard any advice from experienced members and use what aids we can. I strongly recommend videoing yourself. You may be surprised!
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Re: A thread on aiming
Reply #12 - Jul 15th, 2010 at 6:47pm
 
Hello, and thanks for the tips.

I'm new to slinging - first post here. I've tried a couple of styles and am now trying to get the underhand technique going. Using a simple 20 inch 'Malik Lund' sling, golf balls as ammo.

I've always been pretty awful at throwing stuff - doesn't seem to come naturally. I'm hoping that with slinging I can figure out why this is, and improve focus and aim.

At some 15 paces, shots are still going a bit all over the place, up to some 20 degrees right or (mostly) left off target. (I'm talking horizontal here - vertical aiming is for later.) It helps when I try 'pointing' at the target explicitly at release, though somehow this is hard to do. Now, I also tried just spinning the loaded sling around in a vertical circle, without releasing, to see if it actually spun in a straight vertical plane. I was a bit dismayed to find that it does not, even though I try. When the sling travels back up, it will be to the left now, to the right then - no wonder the shot doesn't go straight at release time!

I've also tried putting more of a horizontal motion into it, so that the circle is in a diagonal plane, not a plane standing straight up... not quite sure if it helps, as this additionally requires releasing at the right moment of the horizontal part of the motion.

The only answer here may be 'more practice' but let's hear if anyone has other ideas. Thanks - and thanks for this great site.
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Re: A thread on aiming
Reply #13 - Jul 16th, 2010 at 3:22am
 
Well I'm not sure if I can offer you a better answer then more practice, but I can offer you some tips to do during practicing.

First swing slower. Don't try to destroy the target, just do medium to light power throws until you get a little more practice in the accuracy department.

Second, maybe try a longer sling. I know some people will disagree with me on this one but a 20 inch sling is pretty short. You might find after some practice with a 25-30 inch sling that their is a certain length that seems to work well for you. Not sure about that, but it's worth a shot.

Third, try getting closer ,maybe 10 paces instead of 15,  and make sure your not slinging at anything that could ricochet your ammo back at you. Once you get the hang of hitting it closer up try walking back 5 paces.

Fourth, find a style of throw that seems the most natural to you and then concentrate on doing that style the exact same way every single time. The rotational plane that the sling swings in is not as important as simply doing it the same way every time. Your body will get used to it if it's done the same way and you will know when to release.

Lastly, make sure your not inadvertently cupping the release cord with your other fingers. Keep your other fingers flexed outwards a bit as this seems to be something that some people do naturally and it can make your shots go wild.
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Re: A long post on aiming.
Reply #14 - Jul 16th, 2010 at 4:10pm
 
Aussie wrote on Jul 11th, 2010 at 5:50pm:
Dan wrote on Jul 11th, 2010 at 1:06pm:
A short post on accuracy .................  practice  Smiley  ,the rest will come with time.


Whereas practice is indispensible, of itself it is not always enough. Look at golfers and tennis players, they will often spend countless hours (and dollars) with a coach working on some minor error in form to get their putting right or to gain a few extra yards off the tee. As a rule we slingers are solitary in the pursuit of our sport and as for coaching, how many of us have had any at all? We must be our own coaches and work on form as best we can. Take onboard any advice from experienced members and use what aids we can. I strongly recommend videoing yourself. You may be surprised!


Your post reminded me about a quote by Ed Parker the founder of American Kenpo "Practice does not make perfect , perfect practice makes perfect."

Watching vids and taking on here can help make your practice perfect but, it is up to you to make yourself a perfect slinger.  Cool

Slinging is also a difficult to learn because it is "instinctive", unlike bows and firearms there is no aiming system .  
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« Last Edit: Jul 16th, 2010 at 9:57pm by Dan »  

"Like tying a stone to a sling is the giving of honor to a fool" Proverbs 26:8
 
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