David the shepherd boy killed Goliath the giant by slinging a stone at him. This was one of my favorite Bible stories, and when I was a boy, I tried to learn how to use a sling (just what the neighborhood needed!). I could never make it work; although Bobby Baker, two houses away, could sometimes sling a stone… if he got everything just right.
The sling was a common and powerful weapon throughout the ancient world. The major armies usually had companies of slingers. The best ones came from the Balearic Islands. The Romans provided their slingers with uniform ammunition; but David just picked what he needed out of a creek.
The video tells us it takes tons and tons of practice to become proficient with the sling. I wonder what those guys from the Balearics were paid. There’s no doubt in my mind that David was able, with his sling and a stone, to kill the Philistines’ champion. This kind of face-to-face duel has echoes in Homer, Achilles vs. Hector, etc., and was doubtless an authentic feature of Bronze Age warfare.
I’m not suggesting we should all go out and see if we can become slingers. This blog post is for historical purposes only and should not be taken as an encouragement to mischief.