Sunday, 15 August 2010

Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...

Haven't posted for a bit because I've been working at sea since the beginning of July. Long days working in the boat don't leave much energy or desire for swinging a sword. I've noticed also my lack of interest in the whole giocco largo-stretto thing and what happens when swords cross. Well, whoopdy doo! I can go to seminars and follow the instructions but I've somehow been letting this sort of stuff just get in the way of enjoying training and occasionally just having a good old bout of sparring. One of my biggest obstacles to sparring originally has been thinking too much about what was happening and not just reacting according to the trained pattern learned through many repetitions of drills.

Anyway, I've been redirecting my interest towards longbow archery and slinging this summer instead. I used to practice target archery in uni with a 28lb 3-piece recurved bow, which had all the "bells and whistles", poker, counterweights, clicker, sights and an arrow rest. I always liked the fact that unlike shooting a gun, the power to shoot the arrow to the target comes from me alone through the bow. But it's not just about the physical force required, it's a combination of will, concentration and mastery of a plethora of little details, which if combined correctly put the arrow where you want it. I got a lovely 40lb flat section ash bow as a wedding present and it's a joy to use. I'm relatively accurate at 25 m but occasionally an arrow will go astray. I love the fact that it's so basic yet with a lot of practice can still be an effective weapon. The sling is an entirely different kettle of fish. Simpler in appearance than a bow, it is yet subtly more complicated to use. Shooting for distance is easy once you get the release down, but slinging for accuracy is very difficult.
Underarm style: the wind up...

I made some slings for myself from string: one is a braided pouch sling made from 4mm polypropylene, the other is a six-braid sling made from jute. Both are big enough for tennis balls but I prefer the former for slinging golf balls. I began by slinging just underhand for distance but have since also began using the Greek and figure-of-eight styles also.

Greek or Byzantine style:

Figure 8 style: