Slings are one of the best tools around for survival hunting, because they are light, so you can take your own into the woods, and they are simple so if you find yourself lost or stuck, you could make one if you needed to. Once you are practiced with them, you should find that they are an intuitive tool for gathering food.
Step 1: One of the Earliest Weapons
Among the first hunter gatherers, it would have been apparent that we need longer reach. We have been striving to increase the distance that we could hit something whether with a rock, an arrow, or a bullet ever since then. The sling was probably one of the first weapons that allowed us both distance and accuracy. Using a bit of string and some leather, we developed a tool that would allow easier hunting, as well as great defense.
How accurate? According to the book 'The Sling for Sport and Survival' Baelerian slingers could put a stone through a narrow hoop at 50 yards. You will probably not need to be that good in order to hunt with it. After a few hours of practice, your stones should all fly in the same general direction. After a few days, you should be able to hit a target at 30-50 feet reliably.
Warning: The sling is not a toy, it is a weapon. Sling stones can kill, use safety precautions when practicing and hunting. Do not ever sling a stone at something you don't want to hit or kill.
Disclaimer: The rabbit pictured was taken on huntable property, with a license, during hunting season, after weeks of practice. Don't hunt until you are confident of your aim, and don't use a simple weapon as an excuse for poaching.
Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Make Your Sling
To make a basic sling you will need a knife, some leather, and some cord. That is about it. I used leather from an old shoe, but any leather will work fine.
You need to cut the leather into the shape roughly of a diamond (see photo). Use the knife to cut a hole in each of the long ends. Tie the cord to it, one cord to each end. Make a loop in one end of the cord, and tie a knot in the other. You want the knot from the loop and the knot that you hold to line up with eachother in your hand when there is a stone in the pouch. My cords are about 18 inches long. The longer they are the greater your range, but the harder the sling is to use. I am not worried too much about range so I use a fairly short sling.
Congratulations, you have made a sling.
You could use cloth in place of the leather, although it wears out faster. If all else fails use a strip of cloth and tie two loops in the middle to make a pouch, a knot on one end and a loop on the other. You now have a makeshift survival sling.
Step 3: Get the Hang of It
Now to use your sling. Slip the loop over your middle finger on your dominate hand. Place a stone in the pouch and hold it there. Grip the knot right next to the knot of the loop (be sure that your cords are not twisted). Put your thumb over the knots. When you throw, imagine the rock is in your hand rather than in the pouch, you will release the knot at generally the right time but practice makes perfect.
Step 4: Practice Before You Need to Use It
One of the great things about the sling is that ammunition is dirt cheap. So you can afford to practice with it. There are plenty of instructables on the different sling throws, although I recomment you stay away from the helicopter throw (think classic animations of David and Goliath) until you are more experianced. I find greek style to be beginner friendly, and it does seem like throwing a baseball. You can see it done here
The best place that I have found to practice is a riverbank. I will pick a log or something sticking out of the water and work toward hitting it. There aren't people in my throwing range, nor animals I might hit by accident. I can see where my stones go, and I am standing on a nearly unlimited supply of ammunition. What better practice could you get?
Once you become proficient you could use the sling for hunting, especially rabbit, birds, and squirrels.
If you are ever in a survival situtation, remember if you flush a rabbit or squirrel, FREEZE. The will stop a few yards from where they were to investigate you and you may get a shot off that you otherwise wouldn't.
As you can see by the opening picture, slings are effective tools for gathering food. Small animals are some of your best bets in a survival situation.
So go out there and sling and as always
life a hands on life