Sling

Sling

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.

sling

89 thoughts on “Sling

  1. Awesome. Nice progression from practice at different distances. Getting better with each shot because the feel for the release point is getting better. I am not nearly so technical as to put it on an x/y/z-axis mathematical dimensional grid/graph. I do like to get to the point that I can get the shot away with only one revolution. It will tire the arm muscles especially when not used to it. I like it and all the work you put into it. Thumbs up. Thanks for sharing.🙂

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  2. Hello, Great Videos, and I love & appreciate your channel on youtube. I remember you’ve done a video about primitive axe, now the sling. Could you perhaps do a video on making Bow & Arrows? Thnx!

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  3. I would think the Atlatl would be the next step before archery but the dart or spear needs to be tuned to fly right. Its just a thin spear or long arrow that is thrown with a notched stick.

    http://www.primitiveways.com/dart_Baugh.html

    http://www.primitiveways.com/pt-spearthrower.html

    Some primitive fish traps, fish nets, hooks and line would be some other options to do also.

    You have done pottery for containers but baskets are also containers. I have done two types of baskets, a woven coned and coiled but I have not really done a traditional type yet. My baskets are more about function, not fashion. Just some ideas. There are lots of primitive tools, traps, and containers to choose from. Thanks for your work.

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    • I’ve considered an atlatl or woomera. They have a greater impact force than even a modern compound bow. I need to visit our aboriginal cultural center here to learn to make and use one. I’ve made a large coiled basket but haven’t released the video yet because there’s not much content in it. A fish trap could be included in this video because it’s considered weaving. Thanks for the Ideas.

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    • I laughed when i read that because i was scrolling through and was going to suggest an atlatl once i saw the bow suggestions but i scrolled a bit more and saw you knew about it. I’ve handled one and found it was fairly easy to learn and use, aiming isn’t bad either but might be harder with handmade materials because they wont be as perfect. range is great too. I suggest making one, it seems like it wouldn’t be too hard, and they are really fun to use.

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  4. Hey man, great videos! It’s very interesting to see how our ancestors had to live, they must’ve had a lot of patience. You should do an AMA on reddit, because I know you got requested. That’d be very cool.

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  5. Try a spear with throwing stick if you really want to catch dinner!
    Great videos,
    Fiendly greetings from Austria. (No kangaroos here…)

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  6. thank you for your demonstrations. i have used a sling for decades. gravitation plays a roll. it is harder to hit a target facing down hill then it is facing up hill. but most easy facing on a level plane. ones target is not always on a level plane. some times the target is high in a tree. would love to see you experience this.

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    • most often we view nature as two dimensions, it is useful to view nature 3 dimensionaly. as i am saying above. the principal in nature is constant with any projectile object. when you make a bow video this same 3 dimensional thinking always apply’s. would love to see your demonstration of this effect.

      again thank you for the highly instructional videos. well done.

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  7. Hi, I love your videos.
    I have been making slings just like yours although not from natural materials, but whenever it comes to shooting them I never hit the target. How much practice did it take you before you stated to succeed.
    Great videos, keep them coming.

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    • I used to practice a lot when I was younger but for this video I hadn’t used one for 8 years. For the video I practiced for about 5 days spread over a month doing other things as well. Some people become really good and you should look on YouTube at the other guys as well. Good luck training.

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    • I’d like to do iron. I think I’ve got the right ore and iron is more common than copper. All I need to do is combine ore and carbon in the right proportions and increase the temperature to about 1200 c. If these conditions are met I can smelt iron. Easier said than done though but I’m working on it. Thanks.

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      • Yes! Please do this! It would be so interesting to watch.
        Maybe you could use the iron you smelt to make a pick axe, and then that would make getting more iron easier.
        Good job with the channel man, I love watching your videos.

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  8. I appreciate the fact that you practice in front of the camera, making it clear that it TAKES practice– that it is not an easy skill to learn. I’ve watched all your videos, and have really enjoyed them. I did this sort of “atavistic” stuff as a child, and I still like it, but I’m 61 now, so less likely to keep it up.🙂 Now I build violins.

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  9. I absolutely adore your channel and videos. Very inspiring stuff.
    I would like to see more videos related to plants and uses, for example making a gourd container, store fruits by dehydrating and vegetables with sauerkraut, make yucca sandals and possibly create some fiber.
    I loved the info on sweet potato as the best plant to grow.
    What would be your top10 plants to grow?

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    • Thanks. As of today I’m reorganizing the sweet potato patch to be more drought tolerant- growing it in large mounds rather than rows making it easier to water. Sweet potato, bamboo (building material), yams, cassava, maize, beans, banana, taro, I can’t think of any more right now but I always thought sweet potato is the most important as it provides the most food value per time and space of any plant and all parts of it can be eaten.

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  10. I have great respect for what you do. I’ve watched each of your videos at least four times a piece. I plan to try out your techniques myself by spending a few weeks in the Colorado Rockies, although, obviously things will be a bit different considering the differences in the ecology… I am curious to know more about you though, like where your located (my guess would be South America?), and what inspired you to take interest in primitive lifestyle, in addition to where you learned all you know (fire-making etc.). Thanks for the videos they have given me many ideas, and have inspired me greatly. Sincerely, a humble fan; Andre Walker (Aurora, Colorado, USA).

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  11. Can’t stop watching all of them vids over and over again. Thank you. May Google bless you with a fortune. You deserve it! I’d love to see you producing glass (windows) and gold (art, coin, above the entrance). All the best from Switzerland

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  12. First things I’d like to say is thanks for all the videos and ideas that you have shared. Second I would like to know when the next video(s) will becoming out. I understand that you have to learn these things and then test to see if they would work but somethings as broad as “Maybe every 3 or 4 weeks” would be a great!

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  13. Hey there! I stumbled across your videos a while ago, and they are incredibly fun to watch. It is inspiring to see your dedication and patience when learning and performing these techniques. As someone who is interested in exploring this as a hobby, do you have any advice on how to choose a proper start location? I live in Maryland in the US, which is definitely different climate/resource wise from where you set up your camp. Are there certain key elements to make sure to have before starting? Soil with heavy clay composition? Certain types of trees/plants? I understand it might not be possible due to my location, but I’d love to at least explore the potential. Thanks!

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    • The best way is to work with what you have. If there is wood make wooden huts. If you have good stone, make a corbelled dome. When I started building huts away from the mountain the thatched roofs rotted quickly so I adapted to using clay for tiles. My advice is look at all the resources you have and ask what could be built from this/ what problems need to be solved. With clay you may have to experiment for a while before succeeding. Generally I look for an area close to water, fire wood,building timber, clay and stone. The area should be away from flood risk and deadfall. Good luck.

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  14. Hey PrimitiveTechnology,

    I spotted this video of yours on youtube. Its obviously ripped and doesn’t give any credit.

    You deserve all those 3M views they stole.

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  15. Your videos are awesome. The content, quality, creativity, pacing – all are exactly what I’m looking for. The fact that you are as barebones as possible really sets you apart from others. Great work!

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  16. Hi Mate,

    Great vids again mate. I like the sling design, very practical.

    Thought you might be interested in the past use of clay for sling ammunition. The slinging.org site has a few references to it. It’s a good site you have probably already come across. Thought it might be up your alley with your clay resources. Talk soon

    Malachi

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  17. Cool, it really is an amazing weapon. I have read accounts of the Azteks taking down Spanish horses with a single clay ball. I had a splurge a few years ago and you vid has inspired me to get back I to it, it’s cool stuff. How have you found the pouch has held up?

    Malachi

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  18. Great videos!
    How did you manage to peal the bark off the tree without tearing it? Is it a special type of tree? Whenever I try I can never get a fiber longer than my finger, which is harder to weave and it isn’t as strong.

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  19. Great video! Since watching this I’ve had trouble finding suitable bark but my sling is turning out ok! Can you give me some ideas as to what your next projects are?🙂

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  20. I really like your videos. They are very informative and, interesting to watch. I like that you put your full attention into showing how to do something instead of talking. I have a couple of questions about your sling video. When you are making the rope, you add a more bark. Is this to make it longer? Can you add more bark to make a longer rope? Do you just twist in more bark to attach it or, would that make the rope weak? Thank you for any information you can give me.

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    • Yes, you make the rope longer simply by twisting in more strands. Ideally you would use strands as long as the rope will be but this isn’t always possible. The strength is about the same provided you start the new strands a bit before the old ones finish. Thanks Armand.

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  21. Hi, your videos are amazing. I was wondering if you plan on trying to go hunt something now that you have a weapon or if you built it only for demonstration. Also i was thinking that it would be interesting to see some videos of the errors you made before getting things to work properly. Love your work and good luck from Italy.

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  22. I’d strongly agree with the earlier comment about the overhand technique. In my experience it’s much easier to learn and far more accurate, without the time to spin up the sling. In practice its pretty similar to bowling a cricket ball, which makes it a lot easier to judge the release. Just a suggestion, and loving the videos mate. Keep it up.

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