Introduction: How to Make a Paracord "David's Sling"

Picture of How to Make a Paracord "David's Sling"

Israel's king, David, forever memorialized the true "underdog" story when he used an ancient weapon common to the poor folk to slay the Philistine's 10 ft. giant named Goliath. How can a braided piece of string be so lethal as to slay a seasoned warrior? Read along and follow this instructable, and you can find out! The following steps outline how to construct and make a 4 cord, split-pouch sling.

*CAUTION* Slings are weapons! Each maker is responsible for their own safety and all damages occured as they recreate their own classic battle scenes. Please do not use this weapon to throw things at very tall people with grimacing smiles. Also, please do not use it to throw things at neighborhood animals.

*DOUBLE CAUTION* This is my FIRST INSTRUCTABLE! Feel free to leave comments and pictures of your very own rock slingin' weapon! Also, a vote in the paracord contest would make me the happiest rock slinger in Texas! Thanks for reading.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

For this project, you will need:

  • about 60 ft of paracord split into four, 15 ft long strands.
    • I will be using...
      • three 15 ft strands of "dragonfly" green #325 paracord (choose fun colors!)
      • one 15 ft strand of black #550 paracord (choose a color for your pouch!)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • a lighter or matches (I prefer a lighter!)
  • an "anchor" to hold your string at one end. (I use a wooden mallet. Dowel rods work. Toes work great, too.)

HINT:

  • If you are especially long limbed, you may want to use longer increments of cord so your sling can be longer!
  • You can use any "weight" paracord for this project! I prefer #325 for the down and release cord and #550 for the pouch. EXPERIMENT AND POST YOUR THOUGHTS!

Step 2: Measure Your Paracord

Picture of Measure Your Paracord

You need to measure 3 strands of paracord at 15 ft. to make the "down cord" (also known as the "hold cord") and "release cord". You will use the #325 paracord to braid this section of the sling.

Measure 1 strand of paracord at 15 ft. to make your "split pouch". You will use the #550 paracord to weave this section of the sling.

(When you unravel your paracord, it will easily knot if it's straight out of the bag. Try to smooth out the string as you accomplish this step.)

There are two ways to measure your string.

THE FAST WAY

By using your "arm-to-arm" wingspan as a 5 ft. estimate, take the end of the string in one hand and pull the string to the other end of your wingspan (shown in picture above). If you do this three times, you should roughly have a 15 ft piece of cord. Clip the end and use your first 15 ft piece as a guide to cut the rest of the string. (If you have long arms... beware. Your wingspan will MUCH larger. Be smart about it!)

THE MORE ACCURATE WAY

Stretch your string out on the floor and whip out your measuring tape. When it stretches to 15 ft., give it a snip and use it as your guide to measure the others.

***If you purchased a 50 ft. ream of paracord to make this portion of the sling, you will have a piece of string that is longer than the others. Don't freak out.... you'll have plenty left over for the project.

Step 3: Finger Loop

Picture of Finger Loop

Take your 3 strands of #325 paracord and find the middle of your 15 ft. bundled cords. You will begin braiding your sling at this half-way mark.

A few inches above your half way mark, tie a temporary knot so you can "anchor" your three strand braid.

Braid a about 3" inches (length depends on how big you want your loop to be). Release your anchor knot once your finished, then take both ends of the braided strand and put them together. The braided portion should "loop".

Check to make sure your loop is big enough for your finger!

All 6 strands should be dangling from the braided loop. Pair off the strings in two's and begin braiding the down cord in a "rounded" braid.

Step 4: The Down Cord

Picture of The Down Cord

This is either called the "down" cord or the "hold" cord.

Begin by anchoring your loop to something stationary.

Begin braiding by using a "rounded braid" for this cord. As you wrap two strands into your braid, fold them into the braid instead of keeping the strand side by side (side by side makes a "flat braid"). The more aerodynamic, the better! Try and keep the braid tight!

LENGTH
Braid the down cord the length of your arm.
****To find length: Measure from your extended fingertips to mid shoulder joint. If you're skilled, make a longer sling!

(On average, I usually make my slings 30" from loop to the beginning of the pouch. For kids, I make them around 26"-28" and for long limbed folks, I make them around 32"-34".)

Step 5: The Split Pouch

Picture of The Split Pouch

When your down cord is of the proper length, stop braiding and divide the six strands into two bundles of three strands each.

Grab your #550 paracord and find the middle. Place the middle of the #550 cord on 3 of the divided cords and tie off an easy knot.

1ST HALF OF SPLIT POUCH
Spread the three strands of string flat. Weave the #550 strong through the three strands using an "over - under" pattern. After each weave, pull the string tight! A loose pouch is bad!

*its easiest to hold the three strings in one hand, make a small bend in the #550 cord, push the bended string over and under, and pull the remaining portion of the bend through the weave.

POUCH SIZE
Split pouches are versatile which is why I choose this style of pouch, opposed to a fixed weave. I make my pouch size about 5" in length. You can throw objects as small as rocks all the way up to tennis ball size objects. 3" is a good size for golf balls. The sling pouch must be big enough to cradle the projectile.

2ND SIDE OF SPLIT POUCH

When you finish weaving one side of the split pouch, tie it off using the #550 cord and put it to the side. Return to the remaining three strands and repeat this process. Make sure you undo the original "hold knot" you tied at the beginning of this step. Remember: keep it TIGHT!

When both sides of the split pouch are of size, overlap the ends of the pouch on the OPPOSITE side. Both sides of the pouch should bend in the middle as they pass by each other.

POUCH / RELEASE CORD JOINT

At this point, you'll have eight strings: six are from the down cord and two are from the pouch. Divide them into three bundles. As you begin braiding these three bundles of strings, make sure the pouch joint stays VERY tight. If in doubt of it being too loose, re-braid it!

Step 6: Release Cord / the Taper

Picture of Release Cord / the Taper

Now that you've braided your split pouch joint (and its a TIGHT joint), it's time to braid your release cord. This cord needs to be as thin as possible so it's aerodynamic and FAST when you throw your rock! This is why we taper, or "braid-out" strands of cord as we go.

Using the "round" braiding technique, braid all eight strands for about 4" or so. Begin to taper your release cord by "dropping" a strong every few inches of braid. It is best to drop the #550 cords first.

Eventually, you will have three strands left. Braid the rest of the release cord to match the length of the down cord.

Your last stopper knot needs to be big enough so that you can hold it tight. I tie a pretty simple knot, but there are a few more fancier knots (like a globe knot) that are prettier to look at.

Cut the remaining cords about 3 or 4 finger widths from the knot. If it's too long, it will whip your hand mid-sling. (This hurts!)

Step 7: Burn Off Ends

Picture of Burn Off Ends

Using a lighter or matches, burn off each loose end. There are tons of techniques to burn cord. I set it on fire, let it burn down to the braided cords, and the press out the fire using the flat side of my scissors.

Be careful! I burn myself often. Liquid hot plastic tends to stick to your skin and burn deep! I suggest caution and care, or fingers beware!

Step 8: GET TO SLINGIN'!

Picture of GET TO SLINGIN'!

Now for the fun part!!!! GET TO SLINGIN'!!!

The best object to practice slinging is a tennis ball. It may not break a window and/or make your little brother or sister cry as much if you hit them.

Place the finger loop around the ring finger of your "throwing" hand. Let the string hand from your open palm. Now take the the release cord knot and hold it between your thumb and pointer finger. Both the down cord and the release cord should be hanging from your open palm hand.

Place the ball in the pouch. You may need to "open" the split pouch a bit to cradle your object.

Hold the pouch in your "non-throwing" hand extended out in front of your body. Keep the tension tight in the cords and toss the pouch behind your head. As the pouch/ball slings around, use your throwing arm to sling the ball out in front of you. Just as you would release a baseball to your target, release the knot held between your thumb and pointer finger.

For further information on different types of slings and techniques to throw them, visit this website!: www.slinging.org

THANKS FOR READING! Please post your comments and pictures of your slings! DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!

Comments

SkylerW2 made it! (author)2016-03-05

I made it twice! lol works great thanks!

SkylerW2 (author)SkylerW22017-09-04

as you can see I added a other to my collection

ZekeF (author)2016-09-07

I make slings all the time!
your instructable is pretty good, I've used basicly the same method for making jute and cotton slings.
if your interested, I wrote an instructable my self on a different (lighter/pocket size) sling. I like how you tapered yours on the release end, I will have to try that sometime.
I noticed you used 325 cord for the main braid, have you used regular 550 cord before?

Runawayscott (author)2016-06-11

I've made 3 of them. one using your technique for the pouch, the other 2 I just braided the pouch similar to the finger loop. I plan on trying with different materials (wool for a more traditional look). Thanks for such an awesome Ible

tbarnes19 made it! (author)2016-05-01

Very fun and easy to make!

cablestein (author)2016-04-24

What's the reason for all the braiding? Wouldn't a single line of paracord be lighter and cut through the air better?

CementTruck (author)2015-01-22

I've been wanting to make a sling like David's for over a decade. I saw a show about Bible science a while back and they were trying to prove or disprove things mentioned in the bible ... kind of like Mythbusters. David's sling was a topic and they had all kinds of charts and slo mo cams and sling experts. It was pretty cool. The size of the hole in the sling shows you that this was no pebble slinger. The stone was a decent sized projectile.

Paracord is cool and I weave and use it all the time but I want to make this project with a natural fiber like jute or hemp. I also want to make a bola. This sounds like the makings of a fun weekend project.

liakparker (author)CementTruck2015-01-22

WE HAVE A SIMILAR BUCKET LIST! I've been wanting to make a bola as well, but couldn't master the monkey fist fast enough to feed my crafting heart.

On another note, I need to look up that tv program! The details behind David's feat are all but overshadowed... it really was a LETHAL weapon used by God to topple ole' Goliath.

I've seen many slings made of jute and hemp, but have not attempted to make my own in this method. LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES AND POST A PIC! If there's any troubleshooting while using jute or hemp, add to the conversation! Thanks for reading!

CementTruck (author)liakparker2016-03-03

Starts at around 9:20 on this video

And continues on in this one.

DuksingC (author)2015-12-08

Does the braiding do anything?

TyG1 made it! (author)2015-11-09

My braiding is a little sloppy but I did it! A very good instructable, easy to follow and well written! I definitely think I'll be making some more of these!

Runawayscott (author)2015-10-07

Finally made my own. just got done wit hit. Took a few attempts as I'm not very skilled with braiding (no hair). I used my arm span for measurement. I'll admit I strayed a bit off of your instructions. Instead of weaving the pouch I just split the strands into threes and made smaller braids like the finger loop. also once I was done I put a monkey fist knot on the end of the release cord to give me a better grip and more energy on my release. I'll post picks once I get a chance.

Skwurlito (author)2015-06-08

Me again. No Rabbits yet but I took the one I made to the woods to practice. Shortly before my friend threw it off a cliff I demolished a golf ball off a granite boulder. Note to others. Do not use camo paracord. If you lose it it's gone.

trivialglasses made it! (author)2015-05-03

Takes a little getting used to, and length is VERY important, but this sling is possibly one of the coolest things I've made.

Ninjarooster (author)2015-04-25

Alright, I said I would make this like 3 months ago. I bought 100' of green 550 paracord today, and was pleasantly surprised that this project runs under ~$6! Now off to braid this up...

KC0GRN (author)2015-03-18

Well after a few months, I finally got down to business and made my first one. I tried one a month ago with all 550 cord, didn't even know how to braid and messed up a few times on it, didn't have the hang of round braiding. I decided to go with the recommended cord size this attempt. I'm not as skilled with melting cord, hopefully the dropped cords hold up when I get some time to practice with it.

liakparker (author)KC0GRN2015-03-20

This looks fantastic! Great job! This looks just like the ones I sell! How the slinging process coming along?

KC0GRN (author)liakparker2015-03-23

Actually we just had snow here the other day so it's been a bit sloppy out (not even good snowball snow) so I haven't been able to test it yet (I live in a small house, so slinging indoors will be a nono). I'm thinking of trying my hand at making a smaller one with #95 cord, maybe #325 for the pouch and a bit shorter length in all so I could try tossing around something like a pingpong ball or something indoors friendly. Thoughts?

liakparker (author)KC0GRN2015-04-02

I love the idea! Great minds think alike... I'm about to make a "short sling" version myself. I'll probably braid the pouch as a "closed" pouch instead of a "split pouch". I've also began using a smaller size paracord as of lately. #325 is great, but the strength of the rope really isn't necessary. We have a store that sells #225... it's perfect for the "hand sling" or "short sling". I think the short sling will be great for kids and chunking little stuff like acorns and whatnot! I'll try and post once I have a final product.

Also... these short slings would be pretty sweet egg slingers. I may be giving Easter gifts this year!

jespinoza12 (author)2015-02-28

I am having trouble ?

liakparker (author)jespinoza122015-03-05

How can I help?

Skwurlito made it! (author)2015-02-20

A little sloppy but ooohhh man I get some velocity. Most definitely lethal with some practice.

liakparker (author)Skwurlito2015-03-03

RIGHT ON! It gets better as you make them. After braiding a few, I learned a few tricks to slim line the braids, tighten the joints, etc. Thanks for making!

Skwurlito (author)liakparker2015-03-03

Yeah, I made this at a friends house. I was too busy chasing his cats off to keep a consistent braid.

liakparker (author)Skwurlito2015-02-24

Okay... if you kill a rabbit, I will officially be impressed and humbled. You gotta post if you get one!

Skwurlito (author)liakparker2015-02-24

It'll take practice but this this left one big ding in my garage door from little rock.

Skwurlito (author)Skwurlito2015-02-20

I can't wait to take this rabbit hunting.

gmckee (author)2015-02-27

Mine is a little sloppy too but looking forward to trying it out in the morning.

liakparker (author)gmckee2015-03-03

Not sloppy at all! Did it work out for you? We just had a snow day (here in Texas, that's a rare holiday) and I used mine to slay a Goliath snowman with snoballs. Epic win for slings! Let me know how it throws. Thanks for making!

Skwurlito (author)2015-02-20

This is great. This is the first sling build I've seen that didn't use thin leather strips for the pouch. The leather never seems to last long.

robolimbo (author)2015-02-01

Very good and detailed Intructable! I have made some David slings out of leather but I bet paracord would last much longer. Great idea to launch tennis balls for the dog! Keep creating!

liakparker (author)robolimbo2015-02-02

Thanks for the read! I would like to experiment with leather, but time and materials are keeping me from trying it. If you get a chance to make one, be sure to post a pic!

the discoverer (author)2015-01-28

Nice Project . Can't wait to give it a try !

Spaceman Spiff (author)2015-01-26

I imagine he got a lot of practice in watching sheep and all. I would love to give this a try just for the fun of it!

Let me know how it goes! Don't go slinging rocks at sheep, though. :)

malc in Spain (author)2015-01-25

*** w90 1/1 p. 17 Valley of Elah—Where David Slew a Giant! ***

Taken from a Watchtower Article: By Jehovah's Witnesses.

When King Saul heard that this lad, though unarmed and untrained as a warrior, would face the awesome Goliath, he offered the use of his armor. David declined, being willing to go against the giant with his shepherd’s staff, a leather sling, and five stones that he found in the valley. What were the stones like? It is unlikely they were mere pebbles the size of grapes or olives. Slingstones have been found that are from 2 to 3 inches [5 to 8 cm] in diameter, the size of a small orange. A slinger could fling such a stone at speeds of from 100 to 150 miles per hour [160 to 240 km/hr].

I once read archaeologist came across a field strewn with round stones hundreds and hundreds of them,it was not until later they realized it had once been an ancient battlefield.

Another report said these men were so skillful they cut hit within a hairsbreadth.

So it is not a toy..

Be careful as it could cause harm if used carelessly -but a lot of fun testing out your own skills.

Enjoy

malc in Spain

David was Saul's armor-bearer. As such he was not exactly "untrained". He would have been a sort of apprentice, and being attached to the king, likely a talented one. 1 Samuel 21. Apparently Saul was entertained by David's music, but David would have received training in his service as well as having real world experience as a shepherd. From a theological point of view this was all arranged by God.

liakparker (author)malc in Spain2015-01-25

GREAT RESEARCH and well written. These are ancient warfare weapons! I would definitely head the other direction if I saw a group full of slingers with rocks. I read once that the "pebbles" used in David's time were oval shaped rocks as dense or more dense than a modern cue ball used for pool! THAT'S NO PEBBLE!

I always encourage those that make, purchase, or obtain a sling to begin practicing with tennis balls, as well as use tennis balls as a projectile unless they are in a safe area to throw heavier objects! Thank you for the extra word of caution and facts to back it up!

malc in Spain (author)liakparker2015-01-25

Thank you Liaparker.
Your comments are appreciated.
I love to read the Instructables as many of those ideas and suggestions are most interesting,my son sent this webpage to me several months ago.
I think some of the work done by its readers are really fascinating.

I also like the comments - they are usually well balanced and complimentary to the ones who take the time to inform others of their work.
A good group of people and kindness cost nothing to give.
Thanks

malc

srilyk (author)liakparker2015-01-25

I've heard tales of Israeli army using slings to launch grenades 200+ yards. Which is not bad for a couple of strings and some leather.

--

I've used canvas and rope to make some of my own slings, and I (years ago at age 16 or so) could launch rather *ahem* large rocks pretty far. Like, 10lb stones 30' in the air. When they hit the trees I was slinging at they certainly sounded like they were doing plenty of damage. So yes, *not* a toy.

lvn4gzs (author)2015-01-25

Point of information: David didn't kill Goliath with the slung pebble; he just knocked the big fella out.Then the young David used the giant's own sword to decapitate him!

Cool Instructable, though!

liakparker (author)lvn4gzs2015-01-25

We'll leave that debate for another forum! Thanks for the read!

Stephen Dodd (author)2015-01-25

I have made dozens of these from overlapped leather boot laces with blue jeans for pouches. I have shot many different rocks. I even made lead balls of over an ounce. It is hard to be accurate but if a large rock hits something it breaks it. One useful application is throwing through a flock of game birds. It would be interesting to do some comparative tests against arrows as to impact power. These are incredibly dangerous weapon in the right hands. One can launch under hand for distance or over hand for close range power. Sometimes a single sweep is better than a lot of circles at launch. It is clear that thousands of slingers could stand behind lines and loft rocks into another army from a safe distance. It is almost impossible to catch sight of an incoming rock to doge it. I also have a couple of atlatals or throwing stick launchers. I was trained as an anthropologist and know that up until about 1,000 years ago the bow and arrow were not used. But the atlatal goes back tens of thousands of years. A skilled user could and did kill anything with one. Skilled throwers can actually pick out a specific spot between ribs to sink a spear shaft into an animals heart.

http://www.thunderbirdatlatl.com/shop/

liakparker (author)Stephen Dodd2015-01-25

Great research and knowledge! I couldn't imagine being so skilled as to knock a bird out of the sky... that would put a whole new spin to duck hunting season! I can't wait to check out your atlatals. As I researched slings and their history, I learned so much about weapons like atlatals and boleadoras (a future project I'll be working on soon, hopefully). Thanks for reading and commenting.

Stephen Dodd (author)liakparker2015-01-25

Well a group of NA kids would sneak up and all throw at once as the ducks or geese took off. Sure they aim but you might just get lucky too.

msuchman1 (author)2015-01-25

It slings golf balls with great ease & power. I just need to practice more

Blaise_Gauba (author)2015-01-25

Nice work. Looks good.

dominic.oviedo (author)2015-01-24

Used 550 for all lines. I think next time I will gut all except the basket of the slings to make it less bulky. Thanks for the instructional. I needed a quieter project due to a newborn in the house.

The colors you used are ridiculously cool. I'll be making one like this in the very near future! Also, what a GREAT idea of using gutted #550 for the down and release cord. Let me know how that works for you... I'll try and make one soon, as well.

As to the newborn in the house... THE BEST OF LUCK! I'm glad I could help out with the household quiet crafting! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Frothgar made it! (author)2015-01-23

Found your tutorial a few days ago, got materials today and knocked one out in about an hour and a half. My weaving is a touch uneven on the cradle straps. Something to work on for next time.

Made it shorter than my others, this was my first modern materials sling. Only about 20 inches from loop to cradle. Im 6'3 so i can go for a monstrous sling, thought to switch it up a bit this time.

I intend to use this one to practice with, probably with tennis balls.

Seconded on the slinging.org site. Fantastic stuff.

Thanks!

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