The Sling
I Shot


I taught myself the art of grenade launching way back when I was still fighting imaginary Apaches. You see grenades launched in the movies with the guy's arm coming from way back, going over his head and dribbling out there only about twenty feet at the most? I could send my grenades snapping through the air so fast they whistled like a mortar coming in, and strike my target from fifty to a hundred yards away with dead-on accuracy.

The weapon that done the trick was nothing but a piece of canvas about three inches wide and forty two inches long. Wrapped up, it was about three inches thick. I carried mine in my hip pocket and nobody ever noticed. They might have thought it was a tin of tobacco if they did notice.

But when it came time for XCC to play the war games I could take out a whole squad of the enemy in nothing flat. And when loosed with a direct shot at the officer's tents, I'd have grenades rattling off the sides of that BOQ so thick and heavy they cried foul. But just for good measure I'd sneak in before the launch and put a hand grenade in each officer's right boot, then make sure the umpires were there to witness the exciting events that erupted when the rooster crowed.
Once upon a time, slinging stones was one of the most highly sought after skills army recruiters recognized. When David was just a little lad, he prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.

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Canvas wasn't that good back in Biblical days so they used leather; leather thongs were tied to leather pouches wherein their stones could lie. The stones they chose to use were river rock, smooth, even shiny river rock. The reason for that is that (because they were smooth) those stones could be launched with deadly accuracy; they would snap through the air and turn neither to the left hand, nor to the right, and even those 700 left-handed slingers of stone could fire at a target a hair's breadth in width, and not miss. The smoother those stones were the more prized they were for ammunition.

Even with the best of river rock, it took a good set of motor nerves to be accurate. A slinger had to know his personal weapon, and he KNEW which thong was forward and which was back, so that the same side of the sling always faced forward in usage. The cradle (correct nomenclature for the leather pouch held by two leather thongs) would rock slightly if the stone being slung was not properly fitted in the chamber for correct delivery.

The thong for the back is placed between the rude finger and its next of kin, then kneaded back between the pinky and that finger so that it won't come loose. The forward thong is held atwixt the thumb and forefinger so it can be loosed with more accuracy. Centrifugal force was what kept the stone in place as it was swung around the head prior to launching. The wrist must be supple and trained to rotate in that precise moment when the sling must change directions.

The sling that I slung to slay my Philistines with the stones I flung did not require that degree of intensely trained motor skills David needed. There were no thongs to slip, or rock out of my control. The cradle could easily accommodate a whole brick, but as a child weakling the biggest thing I ever heaved was half a brick. I'd fling it at the enemy and the enemy would fling it back at me. Smooth stones were not required, nor did the ammunition have to be properly seated before launching. Rocks of any size or shape would be adjusted for automatically.

Flat rocks would leave the sling humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic all the way to the target. That sound alone has the effect of scattering the enemy as they dive for cover because nobody knew whichaway that thing was going. Round, rough stones will not go as far as smooth ones, but with this type of sling they are almost as accurate for the distance they do go.

If one of the slings in David's day broke, the slinger would need to cast at least a few stones with a new one before he got the feel for using it accurately. The only difference between my sling and the one next to it, was the length. The arm adjusts automatically for a longer sling or a shorter one. Once you have acquired the basics of using my type of sling you can sling stones up and over like you were launching a baseball, or fast forward as if you were pitching a softball, or from the side as if you were going to skip a stone all the way across a stream.

Since you don't gain distance by building up momentum there is no reason to bring it in a circle around the head. You pick out a target, and zoom, that projectile is projected.

About the only art that is required for using this type of sling is the art of ripping. We NEVER cut a sling from a larger piece of canvas. Using scissors to cut canvas leaves filaments that commence to unravel almost with the first throw.

After measuring for proper length we would notch the material at one end, and rip it down. Good canvas always rips in a straight line. By ripping instead of cutting, it was only after some very intense usage that we would ever see a sling begin to unravel at the edges. Even then the frayed edges were cute and instead of lessening our accuracy, endeared that sling to our hearts all the more.

Getting the length just right was easy because even if you were off by a couple of inches, it would still work almost as well. Rough measuring was done by letting the dominant hand hang down loosely, then measure from the thumb to the ground, and double it. Piece of cake. Your sling was instantly ready to sling stones at any giant Philistine you met on the battlefield.

CAUTION: As simple as this weapon is to manufacture, never forget that it is a very deadly weapon. It truly has the potential to bring a real giant down so low you can cradle his head in your lap and shave his beard off before he wakes up.


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