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Sling myth busting checklist (Read 870 times)
GurtTractor
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Sling myth busting checklist
Sep 14th, 2019 at 7:46am
 
After watching Tod of Tod's Workshop's excellent recent video testing the effectiveness of armour against medieval longbows - https://youtu.be/DBxdTkddHaE  It made me think of all the unanswered questions regarding the use of slings in warfare, and how cool it would be to one day see experts from various areas brought together to try and actually put to test theories about slings, in the same way as Tod brought together an expert in armour, arrows, etc.

I've read and researched a little about various bits of history and things we know or think we know about how slings were used, and it does seem like so much more could be better understood with good quality experimentation. So here's a list of things in no particular order and off the top of my head that might be interesting to see tested:

The effect of sling ammunition on armour; plate, fabric, helms etc. Armour from different periods, Roman, medieval, Incan slings vs conquistador armour (the tale of how the obsidian arrows were ineffective but sling stones were feared). Fired close and straight, and landing from above.

Distance vs bows, from different times and parts of the world. Simple, compound, etc. Rate of fire and use in siege comparisons also. 

Sling stones vs boats, like how the Balearic peoples were supposed to have done to deter Roman invaders.

Ammunition; all the above but with stone/lead/clay shot where appropriate, and things like whistling shot. And the lethality of these in various sizes.

The time it would take to train and arm a unit of slingers to be effective in warfare. The upkeep and equipment costs.

How slingers would actually work in formation, and in context of a large army.



Just a very rough list, those are just what that I can think of for now, no doubt I will remember more things I've pondered previously, and I'll add them.

If you come across any interesting accounts or apocryphal tales regarding slings that might be interesting to test one day then post them here and I'll add them to the list.
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Jauke
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #1 - Sep 14th, 2019 at 8:43am
 
We often hear slingers can out distance bows of the time, while probably true, they would have had to use lead ammo. I've never managed to throw a stone past 250 meters.  Even for 200 meters I need a long sling and perfect stones. If the stones aren't perfect I am lucky if it goes 150 meters.
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #2 - Sep 14th, 2019 at 10:36am
 
@
Jauke
I have near zero experience on archery but from the TBB books if I was an archer: 70# 28" draw, 67"bow medium set, straight stave, 500grain arrow, reaches 210yds . As a slinger I reach 218-240yds w/ stones of different sizes and shapes. max ranges are similar. I don't train regularly with either the pulling of a stronger bow or slinging @ long range .
to make the bow shoot further you'll lower the mass of the arrow lowering its effectiveness, to make the slinger throw further you'll give him lead which will go further without really lowering the effectiveness of the projectile.
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GurtTractor
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #3 - Sep 14th, 2019 at 10:37am
 
Jauke wrote on Sep 14th, 2019 at 8:43am:
We often hear slingers can out distance bows of the time, while probably true, they would have had to use lead ammo. I've never managed to throw a stone past 250 meters.  Even for 200 meters I need a long sling and perfect stones. If the stones aren't perfect I am lucky if it goes 150 meters.


Yes, and it must depend heavily on the time period, and bow and arrow techologies. Arrow design was subtly altered over the years to improve range and accuracy.

According to Wikipedia a Mary Rose replica could shoot 250 metres, though it also said this -

"The effective combat range of longbowmen was generally lower than what could be achieved on the practice range as sustained shooting was tiring and the rigors of campaigning would sap soldiers' strength. Writing 30 years after the Mary Rose sank, Barnabe Rich estimated that if 1,000 English archers were mustered then after one week only 100 of them would be able to shoot farther than 200 paces, while 200 would not be able to shoot farther than 180 paces."

Quite interesting, this would be an good thing to try and put to the test, range and stamina testing. Also in terms of training and average ranges.

It certainly can get a bit tiring slinging at maximum power one shot after the other, but probably not as tiring as trying to work against the spring tension of a bow, as it's more about controlling the acceleration with a short burst of power in the final stage. Big heavy shot can be pretty tiring, I haven't had the chance to try lead yet so I can't quite imagine how that compares. It would be interesting to compare the efficiency of a bow vs a sling for sustained shooting at range.
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Morphy
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #4 - Sep 14th, 2019 at 12:50pm
 
I have no doubt the slingers could outdistance the archers. That is one of the big benefits to the sling. English Longbows and the good composites were all high technology from a bow making/mass production point of view and even those would have struggled against a good slinger using actual war arrows.

Early bows were often not that great. The Egyptian composites design to my eyes is garbage. There are many other cultures bows that likely didn't even shoot close to what a good slinger could do.


@GurtTractor Some of the things that interested me were things like "how important was it to ancient commanders for their slingers to be strong enough to sling large stones far with as short a sling as possible or how much emphasis was put on getting a shot off in one or two rotations.

These are real world logistical concepts that would effect fire rate and density. Did they train these things? It would only make sense to do so. 

The big one though, the holy grail for me that we will likely never find is just how accurate were they actually. Because they often give accounts which are simply unbelievable even for some one as optimistic about sling potential as myself.
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Jaegoor
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #5 - Sep 14th, 2019 at 5:43pm
 
Komposit Bögen waren kein Müll. Auch die der ägypter nicht. Es war auch keine Erfindung der ägypter.
Man sieht Bogen 🏹 und sling sehr oft in Kombination. Das bedeutet, daß sie ähnliche genauigkeiten und Distanzen besaßen.
Was aber nicht bedeutet, daß es keine Ausnahmen gab.
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #6 - Sep 15th, 2019 at 12:54pm
 
as far as slings versus boats goes - guam is the king. Also fully documented by th spanish.
They held the spanish at bay for 2 years in the 1600s.

Quote:
Because they often give accounts which are simply unbelievable

Hmm, okay. The problem modern man has with our ancestors and their skills, is simply that to us, it's a hobby. To them it was everyday life.

In the era's when slings were in common use, you'd probably have your first one just after you started to walk. And would have used it everyday of your life.

I would also point you at our very own jaegoor. Pretty sure - having watched and slung with him - that he could emulate most historical slinging accounts. Hell with a fair bit more practice than I currently get - so could I.
And compared to our ancestors, even jaegoor is a rank amateur.

Historians have a tendency to dismiss things if they themselves can't do them.
But when you use a tool like a sling, every day, for decades. And for a multiplicity of purposes, yeah, I have no real problem with the vast majority of historical slinging feats.
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Jaegoor
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #7 - Sep 15th, 2019 at 3:05pm
 
Alex. Ich stimme dir voll und ganz zu.
Auch wenn mich meine sling ernähren könnte, in einer echten Schlacht wäre ich wohl einer der ersten Toten.
Ich habe in reenactor kämpfen mit der Schleuder erfolgreich gekämpft. Sehr oft sogar. Nur einmal starb ich dabei. Viele Gegner kannten die sling nicht. Sie waren überrascht 😲
Goliath war ein dummer Kerl. In seiner Armee gab es viele slinger. Oder David war außergewöhnlich gut.
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Morphy
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #8 - Sep 15th, 2019 at 11:46pm
 
Maybe CA. But I'm still skeptical. The accounts we have heard  exceed what modern Olympic target archers can do with modern bows and arrows that have millions of dollars of R&D behind them. I am very skeptical that such is possible in the heat of battle with any kind of consistency.
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #9 - Sep 16th, 2019 at 2:57am
 
Morphy wrote on Sep 15th, 2019 at 11:46pm:
Maybe CA. But I'm still skeptical. The accounts we have heard  exceed what modern Olympic target archers can do with modern bows and arrows that have millions of dollars of R&D behind them. I am very skeptical that such is possible in the heat of battle with any kind of consistency.


Agreed. I think a lot of those accounts are historical Hollywood. It's like the Viking sagas, biting through shields and splitting rocks with a single sword swing... hmmm...
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Jaegoor
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #10 - Sep 16th, 2019 at 5:38am
 
Um was für Texte geht es? Genauer bitte?
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #11 - Sep 20th, 2019 at 8:37am
 
I ll add distance and self stabilizing capacity of the droplet shaped mesopotanian dried clay sling bullets
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TOMBELAINE
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #12 - Sep 20th, 2019 at 12:35pm
 
Why do you want absolutely a very, very, very long distance ?
Is it suffisant to win a battle ?
In the past, a battle is a clinch.
This is important.
Just my idea.
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #13 - Sep 20th, 2019 at 12:42pm
 
because the further away you can engage the enemy with deadly force.
The FEWER of them there will be to fight when they get a lot closer.

This is why everyone who used slings in battle ended up using small lead glandes.

They fly a very long way, and you can carry a LOT - so you can keep attacking the enemy over a fairly long period of time and start reducing their numbers fram as far away as possible.

The best hand t hand fight - is the one you avoid by taking out the enemy before they get to you.
Reference Agincourt as the absolute classic - engage the enemy at distance warfare.
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Re: Sling myth busting checklist
Reply #14 - Sep 20th, 2019 at 1:02pm
 
Personally I'd say that long range firepower isn't necessarily about killing people.

It was likely more about forcing the enemy to close the distance in a quick and thus disorganised manner whilst giving your own troops the time to form up into formation (And said sling glandes would probably disrupt enemy archery). Any kills afforded would be a nice bonus.

And having the small, nearly invisible things whizzing over your head like a swarm of wasps... that would definetly demoralize some people, and might make enemy commanders want to 'rush' in to avoid taking further pot-shots.
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