A sling is a weapon for throwing stones with greater force and range than by hand alone. It consists of a pouch and two lengths of cord. A rock is placed in the pouch and the two ends of the cords are held in the hand. The sling is then swung over the head to gain momentum. The sling is then swung forward in a throwing action and one end of the cord is released causing the pouch to open releasing the stone to fly at the target.

I made this sling from bark fibre. A branch was taken from a fast growing tree and the bark peeled from it. The inner bark was then separated from the outer bark by hand and pulled apart to form thin strips. These were left overnight to dry slightly. The strips were twisted into cordage (thin ropes) with two strands.

Cordage can be made from many natural fibres. Two or more strands are both twisted individually in one direction (clockwise in this case) and are then twisted together in the opposite direction (anti-clockwise). The two strands want to unravel in the clockwise direction but are unable to due to being twisted together in the opposite direction.

The cord was then tied in such a way that a section of three cords was formed in the middle of the length. A single strip of bark was woven between the three pieces of cord to form a pouch to hold stones. A loop was tied at one end of the sling to slip over the finger and a knot tied in the other end to be held onto and released while firing. The length of the sling was a little more than my outstretched arms pan. Latter I shortened it by tying knots in the cord.

To use the sling the loop is slipped over the finger and the knot in the other end is held between the thumb and forefinger. A stone is placed in the pouch and the sling is swung around above the head one or more times. At the appropriate part of the swing the sling is swung forward with a throwing action and the knot is released. The pouch then opens up releasing the stone which if aimed correctly flies toward its target with great velocity and momentum, much more so than if thrown by hand.

The training was difficult. The last time I used a sling was about eight years ago. Having said that, I manage to hit the targets a few times. In the video, the first target I set up and filmed was a pot sherd on a stick at about 10m away. I hit it first go though it was most likely a fluke. I then set up a post at 20 m and was not so accurate. I set up more pots and tiles on sticks in a clearing at 10 m, then in a creek at 15m and finally tiles in the clearing again at 10 m. With practice I noticed I got better.

The advice I’d give would be to set up targets 10- 20m away and practice with the sling. Aiming the sling is roughly this: Swing the sling in the same plane the target is on (determines y- axis), then time the release of the sling when it will let the stone go towards the target (determines x- axis). Use larger stones as they swing slower and are easier to time the release. Larger stone also carry more momentum. The stones should also be smooth so they fly straight and don’t grip onto the pouch when released but fly out smoothly on target instead.

I built the sling with a solid pouch like those I used as a kid, but my research showed that some have a split pouch. This might be a better design but I didn’t test it during this project. The bark fibre worked well. It was durable, inflexible and made a good material for the sling.

The benefit of the sling as a weapon is that it is easy to make, is very portable, and has few components to break and the ammunition (stone) is everywhere. The disadvantages are that it is difficult to learn to use and cannot be fired in thick forest for lack of room to swing it.