Q&A: Slings

(Sorry if you’ve answered this before) How good as a weapon is the sling as opposed to the bow? I know bows are extremely dangerous, but the sling, especially with lead shot, seemed also very dangerous.

The sling is a dangerous weapon if you know what you’re doing. It’s not really useful to say, “in comparison to a bow,” because they’re fundamentally different weapons. Both weapons are lethal in the hands of someone who knows their weapon. After that, the value of the comparison starts to drop off.

Slings saw military use historically. They’re an appealing battlefield weapon because they can propel a target with lethal force at impressive ranges. (I’ve seen quotes suggesting they could lob a stone more than 400 meters, though I’m not sure what the lethal range is.) In the hands of a practiced user, they are also shockingly accurate. I’m not entirely sure how well their accuracy confers to combat, but a slinger can put a bullet where they want it with lethal force at a considerable distance.

One, unusual, advantage with the sling is that it will accept nearly any rock you put in it. This means that a bored sling user had plenty of potential ammunition around to practice with. In the case of shepherds, the sling became a semi-traditional weapon, and convenient outlet for boredom. This made for pinpoint accuracy with a stone flying fast enough to kill.

At an educated guess, I suspect the sling suffers most against armor. Bows are exceptionally good at penetrating armor. While a high velocity rock is still a serious threat, it’s significantly less dangerous when you’re protected by sheets of metal.

The sling is an effective weapon, and still sees some use today. It’s an excellent hunting tool for taking down small game. Particularly in survival situations, as you can make an improvised sling using bootlaces if you know your knots.


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