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A Tall Tale About Slinging (Read 212 times)
woodssj
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A Tall Tale About Slinging
Feb 23rd, 2019 at 11:04pm
 
I have a bad habit of writing Tall Tales. They're bad, I already know, but I figured this would be the right audience to critique this one: I apologize in advance for the quality of the writing and jokes.




During my career working in museums, I’ve picked up all kinds of odd hobbies: Sewing; Hewing beams; Fencing (with swords); Singing; Metal casting; Arson; Home brewing. The list goes on, of course, for several pages, so I’ll spare you all the details.

But, one of my favorites is Slinging: The art of Stone Age Ballistics. Throwing rocks up to hundreds of yards with pieces of cord. It’s relaxing, it’s cheap, they are easy to make, and ammunition is free, making it one of the least expensive shooting sports in existence.

The only problem is the learning curve, and the fact that if you take a long break, you get a bit rusty.
Before I joined the service, I went slinging all the time. Whether it was at Lake Ontario, the Hudson River, the Atlantic coastline, Lake Champlain, or the Sugar River close to my childhood home, I was pretty easy to find if there was a body of water with rocks nearby.

Of course, eventually adulthood caught up with me, and started to eat into my slinging time, and I got a bit rusty. But, I’d always taken care to record the bodies of water I’ve slung a rock into, and eventually I got stationed on the West Coast.

The Pacific wasn’t on my list yet, so as soon as I got a chance, I went off base and walked along the shoreline, flinging rocks into the water with glee. I even got a couple of friends to join me at one point, much to their confusion and enjoyment.

But, eventually, I had to leave the oceans, and instead got stationed in the South, where the bodies of water aren’t really documentable. This is due to the lack of terrain features aside from swamps and roads in the area of Northern Louisiana I was stationed in. Whenever is rained, the swamps just got closer together.
There were also no naturally occurring rocks. As a result, I went about a year without slinging a single stone. I eventually despaired of finding a slinging spot.

Then, one day I stumbled across a gravel road along a stretch of open water. I couldn’t believe it, so I pulled over and checked. It was really what I thought: A slinging spot, after well over a year!

The next day, I went to the dollar store and got a ball of cotton postal twine. I brought it home, and cut six strands of string, each about five yards long. Then, I braided them in the middle for about 4 inches, doubled them up, and braided until I had a cord with a finger loop on the end that was about a yard long.

I split the braid in two, wove another string into the two halves to make a two-legged pouch referred to by those on the Slinging.org forum as a “Rockman” style sling, because they hold rocks of all sizes and shapes very well, and are unlikely to have them fly out without warning, but still give a clean, crisp throw. I was a bit rusty, so I figured I should have all the help I could get. Then I brought the two halves of the pouch back together and braided them into a tapered release cord, finished with a double overhand knot to grip with my finger and thumb.

That Saturday, I retraced my drive to the spot, and parked on the slightly more firm side of the road. I climbed out of the car, slipped the sling on my middle finger, and gripped the knot on the other cord between my finger and thumb. I grabbed up a stone, loaded it in the pouch, and swung it slowly around my head to get a feel for it.

The real key is to keep the sling going slow until the last second that you’re going to throw, not flail it around your head like a human centrifuge set to “liquify”. You want to feel the rock, feel the timing, then, when it gets to the right point, make the throw with your arm as you step into it.

I let the rock fly, and it soared out of sight into the blue sky, then plunged back to the water with a satisfying “Ker-spluk” about 50 yards away. It was even in the direction I’d wanted it to go! Such Skill!

I slung a few more stones off into the water without much of a target aside from the pond, but as I warmed myself back to slinging, I decided I needed a real target to practice on, and scope in on for accuracy. I had a lot of rust to scale off, so I decided on a log about 30 yards away.

Two hours later, I had churned up the water around this log with close to a hundred rocks, and still hadn’t made a decent hit. I’d gotten close. I’d missed badly. I’d sent a rock off into the trees behind me at high speed and offended a swarm of Starlings in the process. I’d hit to the left. I’d hit to the right. I’d hit long, short, and every other place that wasn’t the target and almost filled the pond.

I finally took up a rather lumpy, angular  rock that probably wouldn’t fly well, and loaded it into the pouch. I threw, and it made a sound like a cloud of angry wasps because of the cracks and corners as it flew, and hanged course mid flight. It went hissing dead center into the log with a satisfying “Thwack!”

Then the log turned and started swimming at me, with a rather angry look in its eyes.

That’s when I learned you can use your sling for more than just throwing rocks: They’re pretty good at tying a gator’s mouth shut when you lock yourself out of your car.
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walter
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Re: A Tall Tale About Slinging
Reply #1 - Feb 24th, 2019 at 10:21am
 
Smiley
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Perseverence furthers
 
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Bill Skinner
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Re: A Tall Tale About Slinging
Reply #2 - Feb 24th, 2019 at 2:06pm
 
Yep, it's pretty easy keep a 'gator's mouth shut, they don't have muscles that strong for opening them.  Closing is a different story...

Next time, poke him with a stick, when he clamps down on the stick, just step on his snout, then reach down and grab him by both sides  of the jaws and pick him up and throw him back into the slough.  The most I have every had to do that was twice.  They don't like getting thrown.  Watch out for the "Death Roll".

Really.  I was trapping beavers at the time, 'gators kept running into our snares.  And we had to get the snares off them without hurting them.  Bit of a PITA until we learned how to handle them.  Biggest 'gator I had to deal with was  about 7 feet long (2.3m) and around 100 pounds (45kg).  Not that I weighed and measured him...
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woodssj
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That lake isn't going
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Re: A Tall Tale About Slinging
Reply #3 - Feb 24th, 2019 at 7:37pm
 
Hm... Poking a gator with a stick seems a bit counter-intuitive (almost like provocation...) but if it works, great!

Where were you wrestling Gators?
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Rat Man
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Re: A Tall Tale About Slinging
Reply #4 - Feb 26th, 2019 at 10:48am
 
    Arson as a hobby.  Love it.  I've made some very decent slings from cotton postal cord. It shouldn't be underestimated. I've handled some very large and dangerous wild animals but I've never messed with a Gator.  People say I'm crazy but I wish we had them in New Jersey.  Good story, well written.  Thanks for sharing.
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