Using Cordage: The One-String Sling

(As featured in the September 2010 issue of Practically Seeking)

Charcoal Water Filter

The ability to improvise and adapt is paramount to a successful survival strategy.

Used for centuries by many different cultures, the Sling has proven it's worth as a simple but highly-effective weapon for gathering food or smiting foes.

The One String Sling can be fabricated from a single piece of cordage in minutes, and the technique can be adapted to many other uses, such as a tumpline for carrying burdens. While this sling can be made out of any type of reasonably strong cordage, in the photos below we are using hardware store nylon string, as it is easiet to see details.
Now let's get started!


Step-by-step Instructions on How to make a One-String Sling

  1. Cut a length of cordage that is twice the length as from the tip of your index finger to the outside edge of your opposite shoulder.
  2. Measure your string

  3. Hold the cordage at one end and measure in from the tip of your index finger to the center of that arm's shoulder joint and place a mark at that spot.
  4. Measure to shoulder Mark shoulder point

  5. Lay your marked cordage down on a flat surface, and working from that mark toward the opposite end, place the palm of your hand right on the edge of the mark and mark the cordage again on the other side of your hand. Working down the length of the cordage, do this 6 more times, making each mark a full hand-width apart, for a total of 8 marks. This will make a pouch for a projectile about the size of a golf or tennis ball. 
  6. Mark a hands-width apart A total of 8 marks

  7. Beginning at the second mark and stopping at the second-to-last mark, fold the string on each of the marks so they lay parallel to each other in an multi-curved "S" shape, with long ends running out straight in opposite directions. You should have three curved sections of your cordage at each end with a long "tail" running off in both directions.
  8. Fold string on marks Maintain Hand-width Multi-curved S

  9. Beginning with either end of your "S", carefully pick up the curved section that is closest to the "tail" and place it on top of the center loop. Next, take the other curve and stack it on top of the other two loops. (Be sure to keep the opposite end secured and those "S-curves" flat.)
  10. Loop closer to tail into center Opposite side loop into center

  11. Secure the other end of your "S", where the strands should still be in their curves, with a finger or weight so they cannot move while you tie your knot in the opposite end.
  12. Secure other end

  13. Going back to the end with your stacked loops, take the long "tail" of cordage from that end and wrap it OVER the top of the loops, then around and under the bottom of the loops, fully encircling your still-stacked loops.
  14. Wrap tail over stacked loops Bring tail under stacked loops

  15. Take the end of your "tail" and place it under the wrap that crosses over the top of the strands and poke it through the loops to create your knot. Snug this knot down carefully, making sure it encompasses all the strands.  Essentially you have created an overhand knot with the main cord running through the loops, which will prevent the knot from slipping.
  16. Tail under wrap Poke through center of loops Snug down carefully Tighten to create no-slip knot

  17. Repeat steps 5-8 for the opposite side.
  18. Stack other set of loops Knot other end Finished sling pouch

  19. Tie a retaining loop on the longer end of your cordage, and a small "grip knot" on the opposite, shorter end. Thread the grip knot end through the retaining loop to provide a perfect-fit loop for your thumb to secure your hold.
  20. Bring water to a boil Safe, Clear Water! Thumb Loop Perfect fit

  21. Your pouch should be centered between your thumb loop and your grip knot. If it is off-center, adjust the placement of your knots until you find that perfect center position.
  22. Finished sling with centered pouch

    You are now ready to "sling away"! 


This technique can be used to make a 3, 5, 7, or 9 strand pouch.
All will work, but 7 strands is my favorite as it seems to offer the best security for the projectile. 

Always use your sling WELL away from other people or property.
Practicing with tennis balls can reduce the risk of property damage or injury.

Until next time, Sling Away and Have Fun!

Special Thanks to our good friend Doug Meyer for sharing this cool technique with us.
See our October workshop schedule for Doug's Blowguns & Thistle Darts and River Cane Tools, Toys & Gadgets workshops.
His first time offering these in New Jersey, they are not to be missed!