Rock Sling or Shepherd’s Sling
In the days of David and Goliath, a sling weapon called a rock sling, or sometimes called a Shepherd’s Sling or David’s Slingshot, was the best thing going when it came to ballistic weapons.
What is more “warrior” than David standing up to the giant from Gath named Goliath with only a sling weapon in your hands? David decided to stroll into battle against a seasoned fighter with a few smooth river stones and his rock sling (or Shepherd’s Sling).
Q: What is a Sling Weapon?
A: A sling weapon is a device, typically made from thin rope (like paracord) and a pouch, designed to launch a rock (or similar projectile) through centrifugal force created by swinging the sling.
When you read the story from 1 Samuel, how can you not want to swing a sling over your head and deliver a decisive blow? It is fun to daydream about using a sling weapon but I have succumbed to reality… I will never meet a man on the battlefield with David’s slingshot and a few rocks, I am jealous.
Readyman Survivor Sling
On a trip to Salt Lake City I ran into the boss at Readyman, Jeff Kirkham. Jeff is a retired Special Forces soldier and the brains behind his company which provides survival and preparedness training through internet courses and in person. Readyman is also owned by Evan Hafer of Black Rifle Coffee fame, and Jason Ross who is an author, hunter and all around survival expert.
While hanging out with this group of ne’er-do-wells, just kidding they are all hard working cats, Jeff pulled out the Survivor Sling that his company produces. I was giddy. A real live Shepherd’s Sling!
I visualized moments of grandeur as I swung the sling over my head, launching a rock smack dab in the forehead of some explosive laden terrorist. Ok, back to reality. Jeff and I stepped outside Black Rifle Coffee’s office for my first lesson at using the Readyman Survivor Sling.
The first thing I noticed was that Jeff was really good with the sling, after talking about how this came to pass I understood his proficiency. Jeff has been making slings for quite some time and carried one overseas, not as his primary weapon but carried one none-the-less. He used it when going for runs and not carrying a sidearm in Afghanistan. This wasn’t to deter people in a secure compound but to send dogs scampering for cover. He also used the sling as a way to break the ice when rolling into villages filled with hard men of Afghanistan. He wanted to show the locals that he understand their customs, and Afghans still use slings to this day. What a great story for Readyman to sell the Shepherd’s sling.
I left SLC as the proud owner of the most innovative rock chucking sling on the planet. The Readyman Survivor sling isn’t anything close to what David carried into the Valley of Elah. Readyman’s sling is special in many ways.
First it is heavy duty nylon stitched with nylon thread for long wear and extreme strength. The Titan Paracord version of their sling comes with high speed survival cord which contains jute (for fire starting), fishing line, and copper wire (used for making snares). The Titan version also has the standard nylon inside of the para-cord. The standard Survivor Sling looks the same but is constructed with standard issue para-cord or 550 cord.
How to Use a Rock Sling
If you have ever swung a rope lasso over your head, you should pick up the rock sling weapon relatively quickly.
Steps to Throwing Rocks with a Sling Weapon:
- Place loop end around finger on dominant hand,
- Hold other end between index finger and thumb of same hand,
- Allow sling to hang down and ensure it is not tangled,
- Place rock (or other projectile) in pouch (start with a tennis ball),
- ENSURE THE AREA IS SAFE/CLEAR,
- Swing rock in sling over head,
- Release end of sling between thumb and index finger as the rock’s momentum swings it around and it is the right timing to launch the projectile towards your target.
When you place the loop of the sling end on your ring or middle finger, measure to ensure the length is correct when holding the knot of the free running end between your thumb and trigger finger. I am sure there are masters in this field, I am not one of them, but this is the basics that have served me well so far.
I would suggest using a tennis ball thrown for your dog to fetch, or using small rocks that won’t break anything if things go haywire. Word of caution, I wouldn’t stand anywhere near windows or cars!
My favorite time to use my rock sling is to stand on the back porch and throw a tennis ball for my dog (She will keep running until my arm is sore). After you figure it out add a reference point to keep you focused on hitting or at least scaring the target. As with any ballistic implement, practice, practice, practice.
How to Make a Paracord Rock Sling
Of course, even easier than making your own sling weapon is to just buy Readyman’s rock sling, the Survival Sling.
However, that may be outside of your weekly allowance or you may be someone who likes to make things like this on your own. Trust me, now that I’ve seen and used the Readyman sling weapon, I want to make my own too (it’ll be a lot easier not that I see how it’s supposed to be made and used).
Steps for Making a Paracord Rock Sling:
- Find the best piece of leather you can find. It will have to withstand a lot of pressure as you swing it so it can’t be light-weight. Trim the leather until it fits perfectly around a golf ball-sized rock. Make two small holes in the leather (make sure they are round holes and not slits). Slits tend to tear quickly.
- Run your para-cord through the holes and attach a length of paracord to each side of the pouch with a bowline knot. Your para-cord should extend to at least 34-36 inches on each side. Cut the excess from the knot and burn the end to prevent fraying.
- Tie a loop on one end with a Figure 8 on a bight.
- Tie an overhand knot in the other 34-36 inch free running end, this will sit between your thumb and trigger finger.
- Practice throwing rocks!
Alternatively, you can make the entire sling weapon completely from Paracord! It’s much more difficult to describe this process, so we’ve included this video to help you make a paracord rock sling from just on piece of para-cord:
No matter which sling you build or buy, you are going to have fun with it. This is great practice for gathering small animals for victuals when the food riots start. In all seriousness, take your kids out and swing a rock sling, tell them the story of David and Goliath, they will love it.
Sling Weapons FAQ
Q: What are Other Names for a Rock Sling?
A: Rock slings are also sometimes called Shepherd’s Slings or David’s Slingshot.
Q: Are there other types of sling weapons besides rock slings?
A: Yes, there are many types. However, there is only one other main/popular type of handheld sling weapon called the Shepherd’s Staff Sling.
Q: What is the difference between a rock sling and a staff sling?
A: The staff sling is a rock sling that has been tied to the end of a shepherd’s staff for more leverage/force.
Q: Why is a rock sling sometimes called a shepherd’s sling?
A: Shepherd’s used to carry rock slings as rudimentary sling weapons to defend their flocks from predators.
Q: Why is a rock sling sometimes called David’s slingshot?
A: In the Bible, the story of David and Goliath is told wherein David defeats the giant Goliath with a rock sling.
Q: What are the most popular materials for modern rock slings?
A: Paracord is, by far, the most popular material for a sling weapon’s strings. Paracord can also be used to weave a basket for the rock or another material, most commonly nylon or leather, can be attached to the paracord to make a pouch.
Q: Can you make a rock sling out of paracord?
A: Yes! In fact, it is a fun hobby to make your own (and to teach others, especially kids, to make their own too). However, we thought it was best to use someone made by someone else first to get the hang of it.
Q: What is the best rock sling?
A: Our favorite rock sling is the ReadyMan Survivor Sling.