Introduction: Modern Shepherd's Sling
Slings have always fascinated me. They're an ancient form of technology which can easily fit into a pocket and are capable of delivering an impressive amount of force.
Over the years, I experimented with making many types of slings out of different materials. Some of the slings which I created using only natural materials were less durable than I would have liked. Some versions with only synthetic materials were rather bulky and inaccurate. Eventually, I came up with this design which I am very pleased with as it's exceptionally durable, accurate, and powerful.
- X-acto knife
Step 1: Making the Pouch
To begin with, I make a template to trace onto the leather. This is much easier than trying to draw the design freehand and can also be reused for future slings. Paper will work, but cardstock or something like a piece of cereal box is easier to trace and is more durable. I make the template 6 inches long in total with a central width of 2.5 inches and small square tabs on the end with .5 inch sides. I slightly round the main connecting lines so the pouch is more of a football shape and less of a diamond.
Once the template is complete, it can be used to trace the design onto leather and the pouch can then be cut out with strong scissors or a knife. After that, I use an x-acto knife to cut a small hole which will allow paracord through in both of the tabs.
Step 2: Gutting the Paracord
The total length of paracord I use for a sling is roughly 7 ft. Removing the inner strands (sometimes referred to as the guts) of the paracord reduces the overall weight and stiffness, making the finished sling more efficient. The easiest way to go about accomplishing this is to snip the glued/melted ends, tie the strands to something like a chair leg, and pull the outer shell off. One of the inner strands will be used later in this project and the rest can be saved for a different one.
Step 3: Basic Skeleton
At this point, I cut the length of gutted paracord in half and tie those two pieces together with two overhand knots so they form a rough oval shape. Even when these knots are tight, they slide quite freely, allowing the size of the oval to be adjusted.
By sliding the knots further apart or closer together, I adjust the size of the oval so it forms the perimeter of the leather pouch when the knots rest in the center of the square tabs.
Once the oval is the desired size, I secure it with another overhand knot on each side which locks it in place.
Step 4: Sewing It All Together
Now it's time to join the paracord skeleton and the leather pouch. The paracord ends can be pulled through the holes in the tabs up to the knots made in the previous step. I use a lighter to melt the bits of cord coming off of the knots so they don't interfere with the sewing.
Then, using one of the inner strands and a very sharp needle, I sew the pouch permanently on. I begin on one end of the pouch and work my way completely around, spacing my stitches .5 cm apart. This provides a strong, even union between the two materials. When I've worked my way completely around, I tie off the thread and use a lighter to melt the tag end of it
Step 5: Tying Off Loose Ends
At this point, the sling is almost finished, but there are still a few finishing touches. One end of the cord is tied into an overhand loop knot so it can slide quite snugly over the middle finger. I tie it so that the knot is about 30 inches from the closest end of the pouch. The other end of cord can be tied into a regular overhand knot. The two knots should be equidistant from the pouch so that when they are both held in the same place and the sling is taut, the pouch is able to hold a stone.
The tag ends can be melted with a lighter. I also cut the corners off the tabs on the leather pouch so they are slightly more aerodynamic and look less blocky.
Step 6: Collecting Ammo
Any areas with large amounts of pebbles such as gravel roads and rocky beaches are good places to look for sling stones. With many types of stones to choose from, it's worth noting several general rules.
It's usually best if the stones are slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Smaller stones will not only have less power but also tend to not release when they are supposed to, making them inaccurate. Larger stones are generally too heavy and slow.
Slinging stones should also be roundish in shape rather than flat. Flat stones tend to be terribly inaccurate and are quickly slowed due to air resistance. They do also tend to make more noise though, which can be fun if you aren't worried about accuracy or velocity.
Lastly, the stones should be fairly dense. This isn't something to worry too much about, just know that something like granite is much more suited for slinging than something like chalk.
Step 7: Slinging
There are many different ways people prefer to sling. I'll share my prefered method, but obviously, if something else works better for you, use that. I slip the loop around the middle finger of my dominant hand and pinch the other end's knot between my index finger and thumb. This provides a stable hold while the stone is being swung.
I point my less dominant foot toward my target with my dominant one perpendicular to it. I use one complete swing diagonally counterclockwise over my head. I prefer a diagonal swing, but I know some prefer a more horizontal or vertical one.
The release is probably the most difficult part of slinging to describe. There's some amount of a flick of the wrist and some amount of conscious aiming, but more than anything, I think muscle memory comes into play and it basically becomes instinct after enough use. Essentially, the knot is allowed to slip through the fingers at the correct time more based off feel than calculated decision.
Practice is best done in a wide open area devoid of anything breakable (such as houses, vehicles, or people). I suggest first practicing slinging stones in a certain general direction, then focusing on largish targets such as cardboard boxes, and finally aiming at something small like tin cans. Slinging takes a ton of practice, but after you've put a certain amount in, it becomes a lot more enjoyable.
Thank you so much for reading my instructable! If you liked it, hitting the favorite button is very much appreciated. I'm more than happy to try to answer any questions you might have or hear your comments or advice in the section below!
Participated in the
Sew Tough Challenge