What is a shepherd’s sling:
A sling is a crude weapon made up simply of two strings with a pocket or pouch in the middle. It almost looks like a child’s toy though in the right hands with a lot of practice, it can be a highly effective and deadly tool. Such is the case with David and Goliath, ancient Roman solders, Many native tribes, modern rebels in the middle east, and many other examples around the world. It works as an extension of your arm, kind of similar in principal to a golf club. A greater distance from the axis of rotation creates more velocity, enabling the slinger to hurl a projectile with violently destructive force. However before this can become a weapon the slinger must achieve a proper marriage of power and accuracy. This requires an abundance of practice, and patience, unlike most point & shoot weapons of today. Once this skill is obtained however the sling becomes one of the most practical weapons you may ever own. For instance it is a string and can be wadded up and stuffed in a pocket, without bulk or worry of accidental misfire. Secondly you can use almost anything for ammo, and a sling can be constructed quickly and easily through many methods in a pinch. Slings very in style and construction, from simple to extremely intricate in design.
How to make a shepherd’s sling:
I myself prefer a one piece construction using a four strand round braid vs. the more popular three strand braid found on most other sites. This is just a simple matter of preference, I think it makes a prettier, more uniformed pattern. By strands I mean four even clusters of strings, I personally use either four strings doubled over at the finger loop into eight in clusters of two. Or I will use eight strings doubled to make sixteen in clusters of four, depending on the desired thickness. But you may use any multiple of four that you want. I use #18 nylon string which is roughly 1/8” in diameter, and seems to be quite pliable, even after being braided. www.creativeyarnsource.com is good source for a wide variety of colors in #18 nylon, not to mention other materials and sizes to experiment with. I usually start by selecting in most cases two different colors. I then determine what length I want my finished sling to be. There are many opinions on how to size your sling, one of which is to measure with your arm relaxed at your side the distance from your hand to slightly above the ground. This measurement translates the length of string on each side of the pocket. For me that is about 30”, this is a good method to start out with till you find your preference. I have slings ranging from 20” through 50”, it depends on your technique and personal preference, not to mention your intent. A longer sling can improve distance, however it also may compromise your accuracy. In short, you have to find what works best for you. Once you determine a length, for example I will stick with 30”. I then cut my string to size, keep in mind when braiding you will use a lot of string. To make a sling of this length, I’ll cut my string in roughly 20’ lengths. Two lengths of each color four total for an eight strand sling, or double that for sixteen. I will refer to the eight strand for my example, to keep things simple. After you cut all four strings, you will want to find the center. Once I have done this, I’ll secure my strings with a wire tie about 3” off center to either side. It makes no difference which way you go from center with your wire tie. Now it’s time to start braiding, start from the wire tie and braid about 6” down the longer side of the string, going about 3” back past the center. To make this particular braid, line up all four strings side by side. The order of color determines the pattern, for instance by staggering the colors. You will get a spiral pattern, verses keeping each color together. This will result in a more straight line pattern, or you can switch back and fourth while braiding for a unique pattern. Here is the technique, with all four strings in line. Start with the outermost left string, and pass behind the two center strings, becoming the second from the right. Next with the same string, continue by passing in front one space back to the left, hence becoming third from the right. This is a wrapping motion, in other words the left string wraps around the second in from the right. The next step is the opposite. Starting on the right pass behind the center two strings moving left, then in front one space back to the right, wrapping around the second string from the left and resting in the spot third from the left. So the technique is behind 2 in front 1 in a wrapping motion. Repeat this for about six inches, then secure it again with a wire tie so as not to allow the braid to unravel. The end result should be a 6” braided rope with four loose strings about 10’ long on each end. At this point you are going to create your finger loop by bending the braided section in half. This is when it becomes a eight strand braid by bringing the four strings on each end together. From here you need to pair up your strings into four pairs of two. I usually keep the colors paired together, I think that it looks more uniformed this way. But it is your sling so you can mix and match if you like. Once you have successfully matched all your strings I like to tie them in a knot at the bottom, just to help keep them paired. Treating each pair as one strand, repeat the steps used earlier to braid a rope to your predetermined length, in this case 30”. When you reach your desired length, separate your strings again. You should have four strings on each side, once again I like to keep it uniformed by splitting the colors evenly. If done right, you should have a Y formation. From here braid each side about 6” or 8”, then bring them back together as one and pair them back up in twos for another 30” or that ever your length. To end your braid, simply tie the rope in a knot, I like to put a little glue on the knot to ensure that it doesn’t come undone during use. Any excess string can be trimmed and the ends melted to prevent unraveling. At this point you are almost finished, you just need to decide on a pocket material. I prefer to use leather for this, old work gloves, or an old work boot are good alternatives to buying new material. Your pocket should be diamond shaped, and can be sown to your sling where the rope splits in the middle. Or to those of you with enough skills, you might try weaving your pocket out of the same string you used to braid your sling. Well that’s it, if you where successful in making your sling then have fun slinging. If you were not successful, but are still wanting to sling. There are other more simple ways to make a sling, you can just tie two pieces of string to a pocket and go slinging.
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Disclaimer: Any sling purchased from me is solely for decoration purposes only. I am not in any way liable for one's damage, personal injury, or anything that may happen from the slings. Use at your own risk.
Four strand round braid
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HotRod on July 23, 2018:
Thought I would go old school and use leather laces and the tongue from an old pair of workboots I have worn out.
Reuse, recycle, repupose.
randomperson on September 20, 2011:
this is really helpful, ill try it!
red talent on July 28, 2010:
you guys are weird, though I have a pretty good idea of what my brother will look like with a sling!
Jeff on July 21, 2010:
Thanks for the reply! God Bless =]
Jesus_saves_us_7 (author) from Seeking Salvation on July 18, 2010:
Yes Jeff, that would be 30 inches on each side of the pocket because it will be doubled when in use.
Jeff on July 17, 2010:
20 ft of nylon to make a 30 inch wow that's quite a bit. is that right? or a typo? 20 feet to make a 2.5 feet sling?
Robert Layton on May 09, 2010:
I have been making and using a sling long before WWII. The first ones were made of leather. When Nylon cord came out I found it lasted longer than leather boot laces and gave some strength, good snap and long life. When seat belts came out I found a 4" to 6" piece made an excellent pouch. You can stop the ends of the nylon cord from fraying with a match and using RTV (silicone) to seal everything. This was when I started calling it my space age sling. For a beginner I make lines 8" to 12" long to get the hang of it. As you become more skilled, you can make the cords longer. The max is approximately 2" to 4" off the ground with your arm fully extended at your side. I have found two ways to launch and only make one turn around your body. It is much the same way you throw a baseball overhand. You are making your arm longer. This will give you more range and velocity. I can throw a rock through two pieces of 1/2 inch plywood. With proper footwork, it is easy to throw rocks out of sight. I find green fruit, like lemons, limes, and oranges are lots of fun to throw. A golf ball is excellent and at a driving range, you can always throw totally off of the range. A beach rock shaped like your finger will skip ten to twenty times off a body of water. I have carried a sling for over sixty years. It takes up no more room in my pocket than a handkerchief. When in Colon, Panama, I found a large collection in the local museum. In Machu Picchu, they weave the whole sling pocket and cords from wool or hemp all in one unit. I have had lots of enjoyment throwing rocks at the beach and along the riverbanks or high on some lookout spot. In the Amazon, the guide let me stand at the bow and throw rocks. I used a bowline knot in one line for the cord around your hand, an overhand or double overhand knot for the release cord between your thumb and index finger. When you wrap the sling up, you fold it in a way that it shapes in the pocket while it is in your pocket. I only know of four other Old Guys like me that classify as experts in the use of the sling.
Mike Lamprey on November 22, 2009:
Really excellent! I rarely go into the countryside around here without a much inferior though practical version of your sling. I practice regularly when on a deserted beach, full of ammunition!
I shall have a go at making your integral design. Well done!
Sandra Mireles from Texas on May 27, 2009:
Lovely article with historical influence. Your instructions and pictures were wonderful.
tdarby on May 16, 2009:
That is awesome. Thanks for sharing how to make these. As a child, my grandma went to Jerusalem and brought my brothers and I some of these slings. I lost mine and have always wanted another. Thanks
Rev. Jules on May 10, 2009:
A fine bit of instruction there. No doubt whatever, this was a formidable weapon in Biblical times and still is today. Arabs in Israel during the infatada used them against the police and army with considerable damage being done and survivalists try to have two or three lying ready for emergency food gathering. And let's not forget David and his smooth stones!
Jesus_saves_us_7 (author) from Seeking Salvation on February 12, 2009:
To Patty Inglish, MS Thanks, I am glad you liked it.
Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 12, 2009:
Since this is historic, I must add it to my collection. Plus, I've never seen instructions for one. I've bookmarked this site.
Jesus_saves_us_7 (author) from Seeking Salvation on January 25, 2009:
larrybass Thanks for the comment, glad you like them. Good to hear from someone else who has found some enjoyment from slinging. I found your hubs interesting also since I to love to fish and an an avid out doorsmen.
Jesus_saves_us_7 (author) from Seeking Salvation on January 24, 2009:
RiaMorrison thanks for the comment, after checking out your hubs as well With your skills I would be interested to see what else you can bring to this art. I never had any background in any type of arts crafts or needlework. I have only learned what I needed to know recently in order to make a sling, because I was always intrigued buy this weapon.
larrybass from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on January 24, 2009:
Great Hub dude! Seriously beautiful Slings you've built here and your photos are top notch to boot! I used to use ordinary marbles to shatter empty whisky bottles we'd find in the old dump, when I was a kid, with our roughly-made slings. They can really pack a punch!
Man, you brought back a boat-load of memories to these ol' brain cells with your expertise here guy. :-)
Congrats at being such a good Hubber, right out of the gate! Your future's lookin' Bright! :-)
Ria Bridges from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on January 23, 2009:
Interesting! I think I'll have to try making one of these at some point. I don't exactly have a use for one in my life, but they do look like they'll be fun to make, and you never know what might come in handy!