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How far can you shoot with lead bullets ? (Read 3459 times)
Thearos
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How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Dec 15th, 2010 at 4:29pm
 
Sorry to return to a pet theme of mine. The basic passage for ranges in the ancient classical world-- one of the ages of slinging, at least in the old world-- is Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.3.16 and 3.4.15ff. It seems that Persians on foot, with, I assume, recurve bows, and Iranian slingers with big stones outrange Cretan archers (and, unsurprisingly, hand thrown stones); Rhodian lead-armed slingers outshoot Persian bows and slings.

At a guess (I'm kind of making the figures up and many can correct them)

-Cretan archers with selfbows (I owe the term to David Morningstar) shoot perhaps 150m engagement range

-Iranian archers with recurve bows outshoot the Cretans-- say 200-250m engagement range (not the max flights you can get)

-Iranian slingers with big stones outshoot the Cretans and fight alongside archers-- say 200 m engagement, perhaps more-- I understand this to be a realistic slinging range with stones, and many people on this forum can reach this easily (I can't, I can probably send a golf ball 100m)

-Rhodian slingers can outshoot recurve bows and stone slingers. Xen. says they can shoot twice as far. 400-450m ?? Should we take this seriously ? M. Korfmann did, and thought 400 m was routinely achieved by people slinging aerodynamically shaped bullets of light weight (30-45 g).

I know people here do a lot of experimenting with bullets, etc. I've never slung lead. I know (Aussie says) that lead bullets sink deep in the earth when they land. He's often stated that their point is that the conserve velocity (not that they start off faster).

Does anyone have any first hand data on how far a good slinger can shoot with lead ?



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Masiakasaurus
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #1 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 4:41pm
 
Thearos wrote on Dec 15th, 2010 at 4:29pm:
I know people here do a lot of experimenting with bullets, etc. I've never slung lead. I know (Aussie says) that lead bullets sink deep in the earth when they land. He's often stated that their point is that the conserve velocity (not that they start off faster).

I've slung irregular chunks of steel which sink into the ground when they land. Lead will definitely sink in.
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Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
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Jaegoor
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #2 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 4:52pm
 
I would like to invite you to come to Germany and watch some ranges. Once in a while I shoot lead with a weight up to 140 g, and I manage to shoot quite far with it. 400-450 m is very realistic. It is even possible to throw farther. Most people, however, only believe it after they have seen, hence the invitation.
I throw a stone with up to 180 g between 300 and 350 m. Lead flies significantly farther.
At our last slingfest in the Lüneburger Heide, we had a fellow slinger visiting us from Switzerland, Teg (hello to him). We also did some distance shots, unfortunately with bad weather conditions. He can confirm that the effectiveness of a sling depends very much on the technique which is used.
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Thearos
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #3 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 6:15pm
 
Your stone ranges sound about the outer range of the "fist sized stone" which the Iranians use as their combat ammo.
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #4 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 11:08pm
 
It is beyond doubt that a range of 450 m is achievable with leaden projectiles as Larry Bray's record of 437 m was achieved with a fairly ordinary stone. Yurek has posted a record distance of 505 m with lead glandes though I don't know what weight or any other details.

IF it was possible to ignore air drag, a projectile's theoretical maximum range would be governed by the formula  d = (v)^2/g for a launch angle of approx 45 degrees. However, from this formula we can calculate that the absolute minimum launch velocity to attain 450 m would be just over 65 m/s. This is quite attainable for a good slinger.

It is surprising that Korfmann says such light projectiles were used in the past as the heavier the projectile the better it retains its velocity. For example, a leaden sphere the size of a softball would weigh around 5 kg, which would make it impossibly heavy to sling but its flight at "attainable slinging velocities", (ie less than 100 m/s), would be almost entirely unaffected by air drag.

The object is to get the heaviest, densest and most streamlined projectile going at the fastest possible speed. The densest normally obtainable material is lead. (Let's ignore gold, depleted uranium, etc. for the moment.) The optimum shape is an ovoid with an L/D ratio probably around 2 or a bit more. So now it's a question of experimenting to find the peak velocity, this being governed by the strength and skill of the particular slinger.

BTW 1. Lead and other dense projectiles will bury themselves on impact, but that's assuming soft ground and a reasonably high angle of impact, of course.

2. In the past I have said that launch velocity of lead projectiles would not be higher than stones of similar mass. You pointed out that even during the actual throw the drag of the smaller lead projectile would be less, resulting in a higher initial speed. Your observation is undoubtedly correct though I think the percentage difference would be small. My assertion was made on the assumption that the projectile was fully enclosed in the pouch and all the drag was caused exclsively by the sling itself.
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jlasud
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #5 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 2:41am
 
I've shot dozens of lead glandes and it's difficult to measure but having my reference points I know that I can pull out 350m,maybe more.For expert slingers with low air drag long slings and well shaped glands 500m is truely possible.If Larry Bray got 437m with a nice stone,than a gland would've got 600m.I think 600m is around the extreme maximum range of the best of the best.I'm just an amateur slinger and I can outrange the best bows,so we can imagine why pro slingers like balearic and rhodians were recruited as mercenaries.
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Thearos
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #6 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 5:17am
 
Thanks. 500+ m as a tactical range ? Of course, the shots aren't going to be very aimed, but at a large body of men (say 500 archers, arranged in two lines, loosely staggered-- maybe a box 300 m long, 1.8 tall, 3 m deep, a good slinger is going to get hits or at least land his shot in the general area, controlling his trajectory so that the "beaten zone" of shot lands smack against the face of the box. I still think that's amazingly far (seeing how far, in the field, 200 m is). The upshot must be-- if you sling recreationally with lead, you better have a really long shooting range. Has anyone tried slinging at a rifle range ?

The weight of ancient shot is indeed very light (<50 g for most; a few outliers at 110g). Aussie and I talked about this-- perhaps the light weight was reached experimentally, as the lightest projectile that still produces satisfactory results (namely very high velocity) at the least inconvenience for the soldier who has to lug them into battle, and the logistics train that has to produce the ammo. The same principle as the adoption of 5.56mm ammo for modern battle rifles ?

80 bullets at 40 g per bullet makes a 3.2 kg pouch (or handbag, or whatever it was a slinger took into the actual skirmish line)-- I suppose perfectly luggable, even for light infantry



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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #7 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:00am
 
I believe the small weight quite simply explains itself. One used up these projectiles several at the same time.
However, there are also big projectiles. One used this in the close fight to 50 m.
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #8 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:02am
 
I think slingers that were experienced with lead shot could land their ammo in a half football-football terrain area at 500m and alike shots.Which is perfect when hundreds of slings crack simultaneously and they want to kill their foes on the opposite side.As for weights I think that keeping in mind that arrows weight around 30-40g in general and are often enough to make one not interested in fighting and killing anymore.Especially when that object is much more aerodynamic and is traveling faster. Keep in mind that lead was something "pretty valuable" back in the days and I'm sure that they wanted the most shot for the buck as long is it is really convincing ammo.So yea I agree that this could've  been the case.And for the heavier ammo I think they used heavier ammo for different grade armor they were wearing.Even if the "enemy" soldier was wearing a helmet of let's say 1.5mm bronze sheet and a 100g gland arriving from a sling cracking at 400m,propelled by a furious slinger could make the "unfortunate" guy to stay out from that fight.
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Thearos
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #9 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:38am
 
I'm not sure-- but can't really say why-- I can imagine slinging with 2-3 bullets in the pouch. But maybe it's a good way of fighting with a sling. has anyone tried ?

I like jlasud's idea that the heavy slugs are special ammo, which ancient slingers might have carried for heavy-duty work" cracking armour (killing elephants), breaking shields...

I'm still aghast: 450-500m range ? I mean that's further than a lot of modern firefights; it's in the range of bolt action rifles or MGs or even WWII-vintage tank fights. Really far for a muscle-propelled projectile. I'd love to see it.
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #10 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:52am
 
Quote:
says they can shoot twice as far. 400-450m ?? Should we take this seriously ? M. Korfmann did, and thought 400 m was routinely achieved by people slinging aerodynamically shaped bullets of light weight (30-45 g).  


Yep seems reasonable.

I think the general consensus is a lead bullet will add 50-100 % distance as opposed to a rock of similiar weight.
Again you need to bear in mind that these aren't slingers like us.
These would have been highly trained professional slingers.

It's also worth bearing in mind that yureks bullet was interrupted in it's flight by a big metal bridge thing. He never found the bullet but he and his wife did hear the clonk as it hit the bridge.

You would need 40-50 inch slings, excellent technique and bucket loads of training. But we're talking professional slingers - so why not ?

What's a selfbow ?
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #11 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:57am
 
A 'selfbow' is one made out of a single piece of wood ie. not laminated in any way. Traditional English longbows were selfbows.
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #12 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 10:38am
 
Thearos wrote on Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:38am:
I'm not sure-- but can't really say why-- I can imagine slinging with 2-3 bullets in the pouch. But maybe it's a good way of fighting with a sling. has anyone tried ?

In the American Revolutionary war the American infantry troops used "ball and shot" which was a musket ball paced in with an equal weight of small pellets. The accuracy of muskets was low, so a direct hit from the musket ball would kill whomever it hit, but if the musket ball missed the pellets would spread out and a glancing blow from them would still temporarily incapacitate the British soldiers. It doesn't directly relate to slinging, but it is anecdotal evidence that a similar system of multiple projectiles would work.

Thearos wrote on Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:38am:
I like jlasud's idea that the heavy slugs are special ammo, which ancient slingers might have carried for heavy-duty work" cracking armour (killing elephants), breaking shields...

Ditto, but would it be practical to carry multiple types of ammo? I'd want to split the difference so that I could be more flexible with how I use my glandes.

Thearos wrote on Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:38am:
I'm still aghast: 450-500m range ? I mean that's further than a lot of modern firefights; it's in the range of bolt action rifles or MGs or even WWII-vintage tank fights. Really far for a muscle-propelled projectile. I'd love to see it.

Modern firefights aren't done with phalanxes that can be seen from a long way off. I imagine that visiblity has a lot to do with shrinking engagement distances.
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Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #13 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 12:26pm
 
Is gold denser than lead?

The upper class warriors in the Incan army had gold glandes.
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Re: How far can you shoot with lead bullets ?
Reply #14 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 1:47pm
 
Wow,  Imagine the Conquistadores...


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