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The Sling as a Weapon of War

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#1 Tibet Libre

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:05 PM

I post it here, in the world history forum, since the sling seems to have remained unknown in ancient Chinese warfare.

There is an excellent article by Dohrenwend on its role in and impact on ancient warfare. It is interesting to note that slingers outdid archers in terms of effective range. The evidence seems to date back as far as the ancient Near East, when slingers were depicted on Assyrian reliefs behind archers assaulting cities. Roman authors like Vegetius (4th century AD) seem to corrobate this, as do modern investigations and calculations.

Their high impact effect also made them suitable weapons against mailed cavalry, used by the Romans effectively against Parthian cataphracts as early as the 1st century BC. A breakthrough occurred in the 5th century BC when Greek slingers began to use much more effective lead projectiles which also had a longer range.

Dohrenwend, Robert, "The Sling. Forgotten Firepower of Antiquity", Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Vol. 11, No. 2 (2002), pp. 28-49:

More information at: http://www.slinging.org/

#2 moobie


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Posted 23 July 2009 - 01:50 AM

iirc, it was used by Tibetans but not much elsewhere given that ammunition was harder to come by and it was not practical for use on horseback.

#3 Alexander39


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Posted 01 September 2009 - 01:37 AM

Slings had two strikes against them which meant that it is not odd they were not used more outside the Mediterranean area.
First their origin. they were mainly used to bring down small animals and birds from a distance or in flight, and since their ammo can be found pretty much every were even the poorest goat herder could have one and practice with it.

Their Con's is very well known.

1) They demand even more practice for good use than the Longbow. IE Balearic Slingers which were used by all sides from the Peloponnese's wars (400BCE) to the late republic/Early Imperial area in Rome (80AD) literally grew up with a sling in their hands, children were expected to contribute to the household by hunting birds.

2) Militarized Slinger's used more specialized ammo than just stones, and had two slings a *Heavy* (Short ranged heavy stones/projectiles weighing up to a kg) and a *Light* (Equivalent to what the civilians used), they used heavy stones cut and formed into a oval shape, or under the Romans lead, which were both heavy and easily formed.

This means that their origin by itself makes it very unlikely to emerge outside societies were slings would be used by everyman.
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#4 tadamson


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Posted 05 September 2009 - 05:35 AM

Dohrenwend's article also significantly overstates the case.

Xenaphon's statement about range is for lead slingshot vs sort self bows (covered in numerous articles). The Assyrians are spearmen using slings to assist in seiges.


#5 RollingWave


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Posted 10 September 2009 - 09:35 PM

it is interesting that in East Asia no one really use the sling though, not just militarily, but very rarely in everyday life either.
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