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Slinging in old New Mexico (Read 295 times)
David Morningstar
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Slinging in old New Mexico
Dec 25th, 2020 at 10:42am
 

https://outline.com/jq24Jn

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/trail_dust/trail-dust-the-lowly-sling-onc...

Quote:
Trail Dust: The lowly sling once was poor man’s weapon
MARC SIMMONS OCTOBER 10, 2014

It was a government decree requiring that New Mexicans, when they ventured out on public roads, should arm themselves for their own protection. Nomadic Indians had been ravaging the countryside, and every traveler had to be ready to do battle.

Each one was obliged to carry a musket, pistol or lance according to his financial means. The poor, who could not afford such weapons, were instructed to acquire a sling and a bag of stones.

I found that statement startling. The thought of defending oneself from Comanche or Apache warriors by slinging stones seemed to me the height of folly.

Then I recalled the foremost example illustrating the deadly nature of slings: the Old Testament account of David slaying the giant Goliath.

Later, in fact, when I observed shepherds with their flocks in a remote part of Spain, I was surprised to see how much force lay behind stones propelled by a leather sling. There, as in early New Mexico, slings were essential equipment for all sheepherders.

The device is easily made of either soft buckskin or tanned leather. The folded pocket in the center holds a single smooth stone.

Considerable practice is needed to gain proficiency in the use of a sling. My friend Orlando Romero of Nambé, who learned from his grandfather, once gave me a lesson in the basics of aiming and throwing. To achieve accuracy, I soon saw that much patience was required.

Apparently, no one has bothered to trace the history and use of slings in the Southwest. Indeed, their original importance in our regional culture is almost forgotten.

Did the Indians have slings before the Europeans came? To me that seems unlikely, since they had something else that served the same purpose.

That was the rabbit stick, a curved piece of finished oak resembling a boomerang. With it, a skilled Indian hunter could bring down small game like rabbits or squirrels.

The rabbit stick, however, was not very useful as a weapon in combat. So Indians appear to have adopted the Spanish sling once they observed its possibilities.

Father Manuel de Trigo in 1754, for instance, reported that young men of Galisteo Pueblo defended their village from Comanches using both slings and arrows.

In the Hispanic community, sheepherders, of course, ranked as the supreme marksmen in hurling missiles with a sling. While guarding their flocks, they had plenty of leisure hours to practice.

Englishman R. B. Townsend, touring New Mexico in the 1870s, left us this description of “a lonely shepherd” met along the road. “He herded like David with a sling and a stone,” wrote the visitor.

“Whenever he wanted to turn the sheep in any direction,” Townsend noted, “instead of running to the head of the flock, he would sling stones beyond them, and the rattling would turn the leaders whichever way he wished.”

Competitive herders enjoyed challenging their companions to hurling matches, so that slings also served as a form of entertainment.

In pursuing the history of slings, I contacted years ago Enerstine Chesser Williams at Roswell. Her family had a sheep operation in southeastern New Mexico, beginning in the late 1920s.

She told me that her brothers, when assigned to the sheep camps, always carried slings. “We had an old herder working for my father who claimed to be a Yaqui Indian. He made beautiful slings with hand-braided leather strings.”

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IronGoober
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #1 - Dec 25th, 2020 at 3:13pm
 
Cool find, David. Thank you for posting this.
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John R.
 
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NooneOfConsequence
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #2 - Dec 27th, 2020 at 12:00am
 
That’s pretty interesting that everyone was required to carry a ranged weapon. Could you imagine being required to travel with a gun today?!
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“My final hour is at hand. We face an enemy more numerous and cunning than the world has yet seen. Remember your training, and do not fear the hordes of Judas. I, without sin, shall cast the first stone. That will be your sign to attack! But you shall not fight this unholy enemy with stones. No! RAZOR GLANDES!  Aim for the eyes! May the Lord have mercy, for we shall show none!“  -Jesus the Noodler
 
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Morphy
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #3 - Dec 27th, 2020 at 9:15pm
 
What I've never understood about slinging to herd sheep is dont the sheep eventually get used to the stones landing next to them and not react the same way after awhile? I mean I guess the answer is fairly obvious but it seems like that should've happened at one point.
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Ya I'm crazy. Crazy like a fox!...ish.
 
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Oxnate
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #4 - Dec 28th, 2020 at 12:38am
 
Morphy wrote on Dec 27th, 2020 at 9:15pm:
What I've never understood about slinging to herd sheep is dont the sheep eventually get used to the stones landing next to them and not react the same way after awhile? I mean I guess the answer is fairly obvious but it seems like that should've happened at one point.


From what I understand, sheep are dumb.  Like, really dumb.
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Sorry, but it's a pet peeve of mine:  'Yea' isn't the word you want.  It's 'yeah'.  'Yea' is an anachronistic word you see in the King James bible. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Spellcheck, I shall fear no misspellings for thou art with me.  Thy dictionary and thy thesaurus, they comfort me.
 
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Kick
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #5 - Dec 28th, 2020 at 3:53am
 
My dad has been cycling in Wales going down really steep hills. This wouldn't be so bad if sheep didn't jump into the road and get in the way. What makes it even worse is that the sheep, like Oxnate said, are really really stupid and don't go to the other side of the road to get out of the way, they run down the road. My dad was saying he had to have his brakes almost fully on for these steep hills. For miles. Sheep are very stupid.
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Morphy
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #6 - Dec 28th, 2020 at 6:51am
 
Oxnate wrote on Dec 28th, 2020 at 12:38am:
Morphy wrote on Dec 27th, 2020 at 9:15pm:
What I've never understood about slinging to herd sheep is dont the sheep eventually get used to the stones landing next to them and not react the same way after awhile? I mean I guess the answer is fairly obvious but it seems like that should've happened at one point.


From what I understand, sheep are dumb.  Like, really dumb.


I thought maybe it was that simple but that's like really, really dumb. As in I suffocated because I forgot to breathe dumb. My goldfish was at least that smart. Not kidding either.
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Ya I'm crazy. Crazy like a fox!...ish.
 
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NooneOfConsequence
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #7 - Dec 29th, 2020 at 11:11am
 
Morphy wrote on Dec 27th, 2020 at 9:15pm:
What I've never understood about slinging to herd sheep is dont the sheep eventually get used to the stones landing next to them and not react the same way after awhile? I mean I guess the answer is fairly obvious but it seems like that should've happened at one point.


The proper way to train obedient sheep is to first hold a stone aloft where all the sheep can see it. Next use exaggerated movements to emphasize the placing of the stone into the pouch of the sling while maintaining eye contact with the stray sheep. Hurl the stone near the wayward sheep, then look her straight in the eye and say, “You’re next.”
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“My final hour is at hand. We face an enemy more numerous and cunning than the world has yet seen. Remember your training, and do not fear the hordes of Judas. I, without sin, shall cast the first stone. That will be your sign to attack! But you shall not fight this unholy enemy with stones. No! RAZOR GLANDES!  Aim for the eyes! May the Lord have mercy, for we shall show none!“  -Jesus the Noodler
 
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Morphy
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #8 - Dec 29th, 2020 at 12:33pm
 
NooneOfConsequence wrote on Dec 29th, 2020 at 11:11am:
Morphy wrote on Dec 27th, 2020 at 9:15pm:
What I've never understood about slinging to herd sheep is dont the sheep eventually get used to the stones landing next to them and not react the same way after awhile? I mean I guess the answer is fairly obvious but it seems like that should've happened at one point.


The proper way to train obedient sheep is to first hold a stone aloft where all the sheep can see it. Next use exaggerated movements to emphasize the placing of the stone into the pouch of the sling while maintaining eye contact with the stray sheep. Hurl the stone near the wayward sheep, then look her straight in the eye and say, “You’re next.”


#SeemsLegit

I know of a guy that trained a pig to herd sheep. I think they made a documentary about it. It had a dark twist to it. I won't spoil the fun and tell people.
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Ya I'm crazy. Crazy like a fox!...ish.
 
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NooneOfConsequence
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Re: Slinging in old New Mexico
Reply #9 - Dec 30th, 2020 at 8:50pm
 
Oh great!  Not only do you leave us hanging, but now I also have a craving for bacon-wrapped lamb chops.
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“My final hour is at hand. We face an enemy more numerous and cunning than the world has yet seen. Remember your training, and do not fear the hordes of Judas. I, without sin, shall cast the first stone. That will be your sign to attack! But you shall not fight this unholy enemy with stones. No! RAZOR GLANDES!  Aim for the eyes! May the Lord have mercy, for we shall show none!“  -Jesus the Noodler
 
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