Using a Traditional Sling as a Weapon for Survival

One of the basic philosophies governing survival is redundancy. Two is one and one is none. I’m not just talking about having redundant survival gear such as having both a survival knife and axe to help procure materials for a shelter and defend yourself.

For instance, if you know several different ways to hunt small game that doesn’t require a gun, you have just upped your chances of survival. Today I want to cover an ancient primitive weapon that is easy to make and is an effective tool to hunt with: the sling.

Now some of you probably think I am talking about the slingshot. I’m not. I’m talking about the sling as used by David in the Bible to slay Goliath, not the common slingshot that you grew up knowing. That mention in the bible is all that most people know about the sling, and some people even think the Bible was referring to the slingshot.

There are some major differences between a sling and a slingshot though. While the sling is an ancient weapon that has been used for millennia, the slingshot is a relatively new weapon in comparison.

The only things the two have in common is a pouch that holds a projectile. The slings projectile is hurled at the target by swinging and releasing one of the chords while the slingshots use rubber bands to fire the projectile.

Traditional Uses of the Sling

The sling is a weapon that has been used for thousands of years ranging from hunting small game all the way to it being used in battle. Palestinian Shepard boys still use the sling to fend off jackals and to hunt small game, and adults used them to fight riot police during the First and Second Intifada. Slings were also used to lob Molotov cocktails at Soviet tanks by the Finns during the Winter War.

The sling was later popular among guerilla forces not only across Africa and Asia, but was used by the armies of ancient Greece, including an army composed entirely of slingers that King Pyrrhus brought with him from Macedonia when he fought Rome.

The most common projectile thrown is a stone. There are different types of rocks that can be used that can be shaped using primitive tools into something quite deadly especially when coming at you at high speeds. If the lesson of David and Goliath teaches us anything, is that these weapons can kill.

How to Make Your Own Sling Weapon?

Slings are very easy to make. They are often made of braided chords, with the ideal material being one that is taught and does not stretch. They are braided because the braid resists the chord from becoming twisted, which when thrown improves accuracy. Hemp, wool, leather and flax are some of the classical materials that were used for braiding the chords. Today they are often made from paracord or other polyester chords.

The cords used to make a sling don’t necessarily need to be braided, but it does improve the design and function of the weapon. Stones that are found should fit snugly into the pouch – not too small or they will fall out and not too big as it will not be very accurate.

Chords for a Sling

The length of chord used can vary from about 20 inches for children all the way up to over six feet. The longer chords aren’t always better though: long slings are harder to carry around and are more difficult to wield and require more practice to master.

The length of the chord also has an effect on range and accuracy – shorter chords are more accurate than longer ones but have less of a range. The best size for most people is between half a meter to one meter, which can be used by just about anyone over the age of six or seven (the average age that children begin learning how to use primitive weapons) with relative ease. If you are in a survival situation you could make one easily with your boot strings and the tongue of your boot cut to make a pouch.

For more: 5Cs of Survival

Stones for Projectiles

The other part of the sling you will need it the stones. The type of stone that are best are stones found in a river bed which are smooth. The ideal diameter for them depends on the size of the sling, and can be anywhere from a marble to a tangerine.

The general rule of thumb is that the stone should fit into your hand. Obvious enough, though the idea is to have rocks that are not overly cumbersome, nor unnecessarily small. While round stones have an obvious appeal, stones with a flat surface on one side can reduce air resistance and improve accuracy when launched.

Different Slinging Styles

There are different preferences and different slinging styles. The style and sling length vary depending on the person and the style of the throw. Shorter slings are generally more accurate for beginners with a vertical slinging style whereas longer and horizontal slinging style is generally for people who have had a bit of practice. It is all simply a matter of practice and preference.

This video shows all the variations of sliding styles.

There are a number of different styles, everything from underhand to Greek. But two of the most, dare I say, “popular” sling throw styles are: Balearic and Sidearm.

Balearic Slinging Style

Balearic slinging style is a vertical style. Instead of describing it, a video will do a much better job. Here is a good demonstration of what a Balearic slinging style looks like.

Sidearm Throw

The second main style of sliding throw is a sidearm throw which is a horizontal throw. Again the video provides a much better demonstration that words will ever do.

Someone who is an expert with a sling can ‘throw’ the projectile at speeds of 60 mph and reach 250 meters or more with practice. If you are new to slinging it is a wise idea to practice in an open area where it doesn’t matter what you hit. It takes some practice before you get used to it.

Check out this article for more: Survival Weapons that are not Guns

How to Use a Sling in a Survival Situation?

A sling really has two uses in a survival situation: self-defense, and hunting. While it may seem fairly obvious it may seem overlooked as it’s often assumed that it takes a lot of skill.

While the accuracy of the sling depends on the slinger, it still has some advantages over using a gun or bow.

A sling is portable, can easily be carried, and the ammunition is available literally everywhere. Unlike with bows and guns you don’t need to worry about running out of ammunition mid-way through hunting.

Slings are very simple weapons that can be made with the simplest of materials. A bit of pouch from cloth or leather, and a few feet of string and some stones and you have officially made yourself the same weapon that killed Goliath.

Using a sling for self-defense may not be the easiest of weapons, but if David did it, so can you! Hunting might be a little less daunting, but try and hit a rabbit that is running around, and you will see that hunters that used the sling in the past had some serious skill.


As with any alternative weapon that you are going to potentially use in a survival situation, the sling requires some practice before you take it out into the field, so it’s recommended to learn a bit before you plan to take on Goliath.


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