Sling (weapon)

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A sling is a projectile weapon typically used to throw a blunt projectile such as a stone. It is also known as the shepherd's sling.

A sling has a small cradle or pouch in the middle of two lengths of cord. The sling stone is placed in the pouch. Both cords are held in the hand, then the sling is swung and with a flick of the wrist the pouch is pulled away at the precise moment. This frees the projectile to fly on a tangent to the circle made by the pouch's rotation. The sling derives its effectiveness by essentially extending the length of a human arm, thus allowing stones to be thrown several times farther than they could be by hand.

The sling is very inexpensive, and easy to build. It has historically been used for hunting game and in combat. Today it still interests sportsmen as a survival tool and as an improvised weapon. It's also possible to see the sling used in riots around the world.


The sling in antiquity


The sling is an ancient weapon. It is certain that slings were known to Neolithic peoples around the Mediterranean, but it seems likely that the sling is much older. It is quite possible that the sling was invented during the Upper Paleolithic at a time when new technologies, such as the atlatl and the bow and arrow, were emerging. With the exception of Australia, where spear throwing technology such as the woomera predominated, the sling became common all over the world, although it is not clear whether this occurred because of cultural diffusion or independent invention.

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