Sling and Bullets

a length of cord with a wide area at the center

weapon (ranged)

The sling can be made of many different materials: bast fiber cordage; plaited sinew; slender straps of hide, etc. Midway down its length, there is a widened area, a sort of pocket called the cradle, that enfolds the bullet. The two ends are held in one hand and the bullet is slung around. One of the two ends is released, and the bullet is launched.

Bullets are usually stones selected by slingers for different traits and had different purposes.

Ovoids are usually a little bigger at one end than the other. They may be sharpened to a point at one or both ends. Blunt disks or spheres are used to take game without putting a hole in the valuable pelt.

Sometimes found ammunition such as hard heavy nuts could be gathered and used. Bullets from manufactured materials were made as soon as proto-pottery (dried cooked clay that was hard and water-resistant but not actually heat-fused) emerged.

This is a common weapon the world over. In competent hands, it is dangerous. Its main disadvantages are that it takes a bit of time to activate (the game may flee) and it takes a bit of space to operate.


There are quite a few styles of sling use. See YouTube for David Morningstar’s cool slow-motion video captures of several techniques. (Note how still the rest of the body is held.)

It is a misconception that the sling has to be whirled overhead for numerous circles. Some sling methods don’t even have one complete circle, they are more like an overhand casting of a rock, using the sling to extend reach and increase velocity for a very brief time.

In Greek and Roman times, lead bullets were perfected. They penetrated the skin, leaving only a small wound. To get it out, the wound might have to be widened with a sharp implement, so a special device was invented to remove it without doing further harm to the patient. Slingers often had mottos built into the molds. Sling bullets would say things like, “Anaxos Hit You” and “Take That”.

A later development, the staff sling, was made so that larger ammunition could be fired. It was still in use as a military weapon in the age of gunpowder, used as a tool for launching burning ammo such as the petard.

Sling and Bullets