Love for the sling? Crossbow vs Bow. Horse Archering.

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Love for the sling? Crossbow vs Bow. Horse Archering.

Postby strategos14 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:01 pm

Wheres the love for the sling? I read a lot of historical books (fiction and no-fiction) and more than once I've read that the sling had more range than a bow and could be very deadly. Especially in droves. I do realize that the sling was used more in greek and roman times and so maybe they shined more then compared to bows of that time. And it seems they were used more in the near east where armor never tended to be consistently heavy. But there were decent bows then in Egypt and Syria and the Steppes and what not. Does anyone use a sling in their games? Does anyone think there stats are are a bit off or weak or am I the only idiot?lol
On a similar note, I've read that the heavy French crossbow (arbelest) had slightly better range than the English yew bow (Bossonian long bow). In the game stats this is now so. What gives?
Lastly, apparently firing a bow from a horse decreases its power and most likely it's range. Because you couldn't pull the string back as far as you could if you were standing. I reflect this in my game. Does anyone else?
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Postby Spectator » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:51 pm

Yeah the sling is weird creature.
I think the RPG community does give it short shrift.
It is actually a pretty difficult weapon to fire Accurately, however when it hits, its 1/4 pound stone could cause some serious damage. The Sling was very effective for untrained/ lesser trained peeps when used in mass.
I suppose a truer game would actually take the sling out of the simple weapons category and call it a martial weapon and up the damage, range, etc... I don't think it ever went further than a bow and arrow, though.

As for the Bow thing, I saw an episode of Mythbusters and when you are firing the bow and you have the momentum of the horse (going 30mph) your arrow goes 30mph faster = more kinetic energy; conversely, fire away from you (I mean behind you as the horse is traveling forward) and you reduce the kinetic energy and the damage potential. Physics is pretty cool. Same thing with Javelins being thrown from a horse.
If you fired sideways the momentum would not have any effect, though.
This is why mounted anything back in the day was very scary if you were on the receiving end of a lance, javelin, arrow, etc...

Obviously comparing the asiatic horse/compound bow to the longbow is like apples to oranges. One's for mounted use, the other is not. I think I also saw another episode of the history channel and the mongolian compound bows could be made to have the same pull strength as a longbow, it was just very rare for them to be made, since the mongols were smaller and less robust than the welsh freeman.

As for crossbows, well it's a matter of mechanics and physics, given enough force and pull the bolt could fly a 1/2 mile!
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Postby strategos14 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:21 am

About the sling, I swear I've read that from more than one source. Just did again yesterday actually in a book by Harry Sidebottom who is a professor of ancient war machines in England. Again though, each time I've read this it was referring to ancient times.
About the physics of the horses momentum, I hadn't even thought of that (duh) and now I wanna change all sorts of stuff to reflect it lol. Probably shouldn't start that slippery slope though.
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Postby Jotenbjorn » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:26 am

There is no way I'll buy that a sling has greater range than a bow without concrete evidence to back it up. You can fire a bow hundreds of yards, I seriously doubt you could sling a stone that far.
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Postby Spectator » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:35 am

Jotenborn, again with physics, anything is possible depending on how much force is coupled with the leverage (in this case the length of the sling).

The longer the sling, the greater centrifugal can be managed to fling the stone.
The shorter the sling, the less force generated.

Obviously if you are Conan and you have a sling that is 8 feet long, meaning that the stone is placed 1/2 way on the leater sling, plus your arm and body movement, you could chuck that stone pretty far.

The obvious limitation is that, historically, guys like conan were not wielding slings, so scant envidence remains, but again, PHYSICS will always rule the limitations.

I guess if it came down to it, Conan with the optimal bow vs. Conan with the optimal sling, my money's on Conan's arrow to fire the furthest.
But I'd bet Conan's sling stone could beat the "average" arrow shot by some STR 10 NPC.
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Postby kintire » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:52 pm

There is no way I'll buy that a sling has greater range than a bow without concrete evidence to back it up. You can fire a bow hundreds of yards, I seriously doubt you could sling a stone that far.

The current world record for a stone cast from a sling is 437 meters. A military slinger would be using oval lead or carved stone bullets cast point first, which spin in the air like a modern bullet, so they would get considerably longer ranges.

Slings were the most effective ranged weapon, man for man, until the advent of the flintlock musket. Launch speeds up to 80 m/s (compare with a bow in the 60-70m/s mark) combined with much lower air resistance and greater mass (in the case of lead bullets, vastly greater) gave much greater impact at much greater ranges. And Goliath was not the only armoured warrior to regret meeting slingers:
But when Hamilcar saw that his men were being overpowered and that the Greeks in constantly increasing number were making their way into the camp, he brought up his slingers, who came from the Balearic Islands and numbered at least a thousand. By hurling a shower of great stones, they wounded many and even killed not a few of those who were attacking, and they shattered the defensive armour of most of them. For these men, who are accustomed to sling stones weighing a mina [~0.6kg], contribute a great deal toward victory in battle [...] In this way they drove the Greeks from the camp and defeated them. (Diodorus Siculus Book XIX. 109)
Shattering the armour of a Greek hoplite was no mean feat.

However, the sling was fiendishly difficult to learn, and slingers could not fire dense volleys (because wind up time varies and slingers can't stand in tight units) so they were always in short supply and were always far outnumbered on battlefields by archers.

In short, they should be Exotic weapons, and as good as any bow at longer ranges. Slightly sub par compared to the exotic bows if using stones rather than crafted bullets.
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Postby strategos14 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:43 pm

THANK YOU KINTFIRE. I wasn't dreaming that I've read this more than once. Both in non-fiction and fiction historical writing. I just assume that the writers know more than I would. Now that I think about it, the PC game ROME:Total War. The slingers range is greater than the archers there as well. If anyone's ever played any Total War games, you'll know the game strives for realistic simulated mass combat.
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Postby Spectator » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:25 pm

strategos14 wrote:THANK YOU KINTFIRE. I wasn't dreaming that I've read this more than once. Both in non-fiction and fiction historical writing. I just assume that the writers know more than I would. Now that I think about it, the PC game ROME:Total War. The slingers range is greater than the archers there as well. If anyone's ever played any Total War games, you'll know the game strives for realistic simulated mass combat.
I am actually playing a game right now of Rome TW, but the archers beat the slingers, in range. I have two merc. units: balearic slingers and cretan archers, when I put them side by side the Cretans always fire first (meaning they start hitting the encroaching enemy first).

I absolutely love the game!
PS I am running v1.5 vanilla Rome TW.
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Postby Spectator » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:04 am

kintire wrote:
There is no way I'll buy that a sling has greater range than a bow without concrete evidence to back it up. You can fire a bow hundreds of yards, I seriously doubt you could sling a stone that far.

The current world record for a stone cast from a sling is 437 meters. A military slinger would be using oval lead or carved stone bullets cast point first, which spin in the air like a modern bullet, so they would get considerably longer ranges.

Slings were the most effective ranged weapon, man for man, until the advent of the flintlock musket. Launch speeds up to 80 m/s (compare with a bow in the 60-70m/s mark) combined with much lower air resistance and greater mass (in the case of lead bullets, vastly greater) gave much greater impact at much greater ranges. And Goliath was not the only armoured warrior to regret meeting slingers:
But when Hamilcar saw that his men were being overpowered and that the Greeks in constantly increasing number were making their way into the camp, he brought up his slingers, who came from the Balearic Islands and numbered at least a thousand. By hurling a shower of great stones, they wounded many and even killed not a few of those who were attacking, and they shattered the defensive armour of most of them. For these men, who are accustomed to sling stones weighing a mina [~0.6kg], contribute a great deal toward victory in battle [...] In this way they drove the Greeks from the camp and defeated them. (Diodorus Siculus Book XIX. 109)
Shattering the armour of a Greek hoplite was no mean feat.

However, the sling was fiendishly difficult to learn, and slingers could not fire dense volleys (because wind up time varies and slingers can't stand in tight units) so they were always in short supply and were always far outnumbered on battlefields by archers.

In short, they should be Exotic weapons, and as good as any bow at longer ranges. Slightly sub par compared to the exotic bows if using stones rather than crafted bullets.
I agree with upping them to Exotic and making the damage commensurate with a standard arrow plus more AP as well.
On a side note, which Howardian cultures were reknowned slingers, any cites from REH or even pastiche and comics would be helpful.

PS thanks Kintire for your qoute from the ancients. A stone weighting .6 kilos is a damn heavy object. Essentially like 1.1 pounds. Very few arrows weigh even a 1/5 of a pound! So the kinetic force of those puppies flying at you would either crush your skull, cave your chest in, or pulverize your limbs. No wonder those greeks beat a hasty retreat!
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Postby strategos14 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:45 am

Spectator wrote:
strategos14 wrote:THANK YOU KINTFIRE. I wasn't dreaming that I've read this more than once. Both in non-fiction and fiction historical writing. I just assume that the writers know more than I would. Now that I think about it, the PC game ROME:Total War. The slingers range is greater than the archers there as well. If anyone's ever played any Total War games, you'll know the game strives for realistic simulated mass combat.
I am actually playing a game right now of Rome TW, but the archers beat the slingers, in range. I have two merc. units: balearic slingers and cretan archers, when I put them side by side the Cretans always fire first (meaning they start hitting the encroaching enemy first).

I absolutely love the game!
PS I am running v1.5 vanilla Rome TW.
Damn you spectator! You stole my thunder lol. Guess I'm wrong about that game. Haven't played it in a few years. Maybe the bowmen I remember were rookie's with crappy bows. Or maybe I misremember. On a side note, try playing Midieval 2 Total War. It's very good also. Especially with the add-ons.
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Postby Spectator » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:11 am

Yeah I got Midieval TW, I like it, but there is something I just dig so much more about the ROME TW game engine and the era of play. I also dig the Barbarian Invasions add-on, but I was not aware of the Mideval add-ons (cause I don't play it as much as Rome TW).

I just love the ancients more than the mideval.
There's something so much fun playing a Britonic Charioteer or Carthaginian elephant trooper as opposed to playing a french Pikeman.
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Postby kintire » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:58 am

Damn you spectator! You stole my thunder lol. Guess I'm wrong about that game. Haven't played it in a few years. Maybe the bowmen I remember were rookie's with crappy bows
You were probably fielding Roman Archers. You start with a unit or two of them.

I never bothered building another. Park a general in Crete and hire the entire population thats the secret
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Postby strategos14 » Fri Aug 20, 2010 5:56 am

now i wanna load up the game again. theres a crusade expansion for Medieval 2 game. thats pretty good. and the other expansion i have takes place only in the british isles. it's cool cause its very localized and whatnot.
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Postby Jotenbjorn » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:45 pm

kintire wrote: The current world record for a stone cast from a sling is 437 meters.
The current world record for a bow is 1,336 yards (2,047 yards with a crossbow).

http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/flight.html
Slings were the most effective ranged weapon, man for man, until the advent of the flintlock musket.
If that were the case they would have been the dominant combat weapon until firearms due to their far cheaper production costs. A unit of slingers against an equal unit of archers would quickly die, they'd never even get close enough.

They actually aren't too difficult to learn and were commonly a weapon used by peasant levies.
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Postby Spectator » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:07 pm

Jotenborn, I agree they are easy to learn if you want to fling a stone ahead of you, and that's why its not to hard for the peasant levies to use them behind the walls of the castle raining down stones on the attackers.
But, using a sling to perform an act like David knocking Goliath in the head does take a refined level of skill.

I've fired a bow as youngster and can say that I was a fair-good shot. The sling, that I tried, really brought me to task for the coordination and timing needed just to get the sling to fire in the 'general direction' of the target.

Give it a shot, slinging a stone IS easy, slinging a stone at a specific target is whole new level of difficult. They're easy to make and you should try it, you would have fun.
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Postby Kev » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:35 pm

Jotenbjorn wrote:The current world record for a bow is 1,336 yards (2,047 yards with a crossbow).
Well, bear in mind that's with a modern flight bow built to achieve the greatest possible distance. Medieval longbows had a significantly shorter range, generally around 200-250 yards (though I've heard tell that some could reach 300 yards or more). That's if the archer was going for distance not accuracy.
kintire wrote:The current world record for a stone cast from a sling is 437 meters.
I'm guessing the maximum effective range for a sling used as a weapon would vary considerably as well. Again sacrificing distance for accuracy, it probably wouldn't be that much different from a bow or crossbow.

It all depends, of course, on the skill of the user and the intent of the shot.
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Postby kintire » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:36 am

The current world record for a bow is 1,336 yards (2,047 yards with a crossbow).
Using a modern bow. Historically, 200 yards was more like it, even for the heaviest bows.
If that were the case they would have been the dominant combat weapon until firearms due to their far cheaper production costs. A unit of slingers against an equal unit of archers would quickly die, they'd never even get close enough.
Diodorus would like to disagree. So would Xenophon:
If, then, we are to exclude them from all possibility of injuring us as we march, we must get slingers as soon as possible and cavalry. I am told there are in the army some Rhodians, most of whom, they say, know how to sling, and their missile will reach even twice as far as the Persian slings (which, on account of their being loaded with stones as big as one's fist, have a comparatively short range; but the Rhodians are skilled in the use of leaden bullets
But now the Asiatics had ceased to be dangerous with their sharpshooting. For the Rhodians could reach further than the Persian 16 slingers, or, indeed, than most of the bowmen
Both quotes from Xenophon's Anabasis Ch 3

Slingers were NOT peasant levies, they were highly valued. Areas that produced them, like the Baleric Islands, were famous, and soldiers from there were greatly respected. As I said, the reason they did not become dominant was because they were in short supply, and because they could not form tight units as they needed space, so their volley density was lower.
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Postby Spectator » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:28 am

Thanks Kintire!
The historical perspective is great fun to read.


I think that there can be two types of slingers (maybe).

The combat oriented slinger used to a mobile and dynamic battlefield where the targets are moving and precision is key; thus the Rhodian or Balearic slingers would be key.

vs.

The peasant levies who could be safe behind a 30 foot rampart using their sling to lob projectiles forward at the beseiging/ attacking forces.

I in my untrained/ minimally trained form could do the latter (just fling the stone 'that-a-way') but definitely no way could I do the former, aiming for a mobile target in dynamic terrain.

Remember the sling can be taught to anyone to lob something forward, but true skill determines the accuracy, the distance, etc...


I propose moving it to exotic weapon status to take into account of the accuracy issues for untrained folks, but upping the damage. Also leaden sling stones should be an option for slingers to bust out the range and damage issues, too.

Maybe we can have some provinces in Koth, ophir, and elsewhere be known for their quality slingers.
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Postby Jotenbjorn » Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:44 pm

kintire wrote: Both quotes from Xenophon's Anabasis Ch 3
You're comparing slings to ancient bows, which were far inferior to their medieval counterparts. Slings were heavily used in the ancient world because ancient bows sucked. Bow technology advanced leaps and bounds over the next 1500 years while the sling was still a sling.
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Postby kintire » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:38 pm

How did it advance? Composite bows were used by the ancient Persians and others. Yew longbows were in use in the alps in 3,300 BC.

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