How to make a shepherds sling
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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Four strand round braid
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