I wasn’t very good back when I first got that thing, my
aim was so far off, it was like I was totally stoned!
Always the underdog of projectile weapons just as much as David was the underdog against Goliath, it often played its part in warfare and is not to be underestimated. It is the Medieval world’s most compact lethal weapon after all.
Although not as popular in Medieval times as obvious bows and crossbows alongside early firearms, the sling was known for its excellent range and cheap easily obtained ammunition, which alongside being very inexpensive itself, made it a fantastic weapon for siege warfare when used by attackers or defenders. When you are fighting a war of attrition, a tool as simple as the sling can whittle down enemy morale without breaking the bank. As I have shown, anyone can pick up a stone off a river bank and sling it.
The hand sling was used by holding the loop end in one finger and the knot end between the finger and thumb, making a throwing motion such as with a baseball and then releasing the knot end to launch the rock or bullet leagues further than the human hand alone could do (shown in another video). The staff sling was used by one loop being permanently attached to the handle and the other loop being kept in a groove ready to release, then with a controlled swinging motion to loop releases and the stone is slung out. From my experience, the hand sling gains better range and the staff sling potentially throws larger rocks.
Slings were generally not suited to battle as they were slower than bows, and had a larger surface area than arrows or quarrels which meant that the shots were easier to mitigate with shields or body armour. As in my video, they are also harder to learn how to use and require even more time spend honing skills than bows do.