Slings are the most unassuming thing you can think of. Take a bit of string, braid it (or not), construct some sort of pouch halfway through its length, take the ends of both strands in one hand, place a stone, lead bullet, potato, scrap metal piece in the pouch, rotate in any angle you wish to consider as much or little as you like, and let go of one of the two strands. End of story.
No big deal, really. Still, this millennium-old weapon has some particular twists to it: it has the spiritual value of a Zen bow; it has the practical value of a hunting bow; it has a “gun-like” punch when used with lead shots; and it has a thousand times the stealth factor of any other weapon – particularly throwing or shooting weapon – this side of the galactic centre. It is fast and cheap to produce, light to carry, has a good reach, uses nearly anything for ammunition and releases silently.
A weapon in its own class. Yes, a very simple weapon and, compared to a modern assault rifle, also a pretty poor weapon. Still, it’s a weapon, and like all weapons, it gives you kind of a capacity to fight back, to assert yourself, to make a stand. Like all weapons, it’s a warrior tool; like all weapons, it helps you to keep the spirit of freedom kindled in your soul. And, unlike most weapons, it can do so anywhere, any time. Silent and unassuming, nearly undetectable as it is, the sling – or “honda”, as I shall more often than not say – can ride around in your trouser pocket where no gun, knife, bow or atlatl could ever go.
Why does that matter? Because we in the modern West have forgotten that freedom does not fall into the lap. It’s earned. It starts with us as individuals and our will and capacity to stand up for it. In words and actions; and action can mean to fight when the chips are down. If you are mentally prepared to fight for your freedom, chances are you will remain free. If not; well, good luck.
But our modern West has forgotten this simple truth. In our horror of violence we have chucked out the baby with the bath water, achieving simply ridiculous degrees of trying to defang the manly spirit which once made us great.
Not only guns are pretty much off-limits in most Western legislations. In some, pulling your belt out to defend you will be held against you. And in others, your own body parts are classified as “personal weapons”. Ask a lawyer – bet there’s hell of a difference between “a punch” and the “use of a personal weapon”!
In short, you are being defanged; naturally, your government would never say that it prefers you to be a victim. After all, they are politicians.
Sure, there are a lot of weapons around. You can get into a sports shooting club. You can do European and Japanese sword fighting. You can make and use blowpipes and atlatls and boomerangs and bow and arrow. You can carry knives. But none of these things has anywhere the ubiquitous, flexible (no pun intended) capability of being with you as the honda has. Or its reach and punch.
It’s that “being with you” I’m after, here. The carrying, not the possession. The little cash in the purse, not the big account in Switzerland. Because it’s that what makes the difference in your soul. Which is the only difference that matters – it’s in your soul where freedom starts. That little flame of warrior spirit, that determination not to go down. Or if going down, than with a stand – that’s all which separates you from a slave. Not more, not less.
We, in the West, have forgotten that. There are entire nations now walking into the night because they don’t have enough men anymore to make a stand. Any stand, for that matter.
Don’t want to be part of that walk into darkness? Train your freedom spirit. Do it with this simple, but beautiful and demanding, little neolithic tool. It’ll thank you for any effort you put into it. It will open a new world to you of shooting and hunting options. It’ll teach you a thing or two about perseverance and willpower; after all, it is the most demanding weapon in world history. It’ll be a good friend and sparring partner even in your advanced ages – you can shoot with it until the age where a slap on your shoulder would break a bone. And it has a nice punch equally in a man’s and a woman’s hand. We on the Baleares know that; our girls and women have been historically (and are today) trained “honderas”. Not only for sport: In historic times, we needed, when the enemy came, every hand capable of holding a weapon.
Sure, weapons in themselves are not solutions; the gun-touting louts around the world remind us of that every day. But if you, a sensible, advanced human being – of the ones who can still read their Homer, Cato, Caesar, Aristoteles, Vergilius, Aristophanes, Tacitus, Aurelius, Seneca, and make up their own minds about things -, if you, I say, give up on weapons as such and out of principle, the louts will go after you, one day. That’s called Darwinism. Don’t count on past achievements; History is cold as a dog’s snout. She adores survivors only.
In that sense, I say: shoot sharp – think free – live proudly. And don’t overlook the sling; it could be at the heart of your strategy to keep the flame of freedom in soul and body and pride and an open spirit kindled in a hypocritical world which doesn’t teach you the first two things about how to really find and be yourself.
Sounds a lot for a bit of string? Perhaps. But this site is also my expression of gratitude to my origins; it is a very Spanish way of looking at the sling. The sling, you see, has been all along a national weapon of Spain and more than anywhere else on the Baleares – the islands of my people.
On the Baleares, we have used this weapon for thousands of years. We fought under Carthaginian and Roman banners; we hunted with it right through to the generation of my father; we used it to good effect in sea and land warfare right up to the 20th century. Spanish infantry, the best of its time, carried “hondas” as a fall-back weapon in the 16th and 17th centuries, and its last uses in warfare were to fire explosives – in 1806, bottles filled with black powder against an enemy ship; in 1936, hand grenades. Now, Spain having become “modern”, it is being revived as a sports and hobby weapon.
Still, the old corsair spirit is not extinct, an ember under the glitzy new façade. The sling – honda – links back to the time where we drove Hasdrubal’s fleet off the shore, where Balearic warriors criss-crossed the Roman empire in search of booty, citizenship and fame, where we fought as corsairs in the Western seas under captains such as Antoni Barceló and Toni Riquer against moors, Turks and French in an epic battle which kept our islands a free and Christian land. A battle, I might add, which is just resuming, if one is to trust the writing on the wall.
What is true for Baleares at small is true for Spain at large – Iberian and Celtic warriordom evolves into the Visigoth, Canturian, Basque and Asturian resistance to muslim conquest, to emerge, after Covadonga, Simancas, Navas De Tolosa, Granada to the Spain which gave the world El Greco, Don Quijote, the largest empire the world had seen until then, and the victory of Lepanto.
The sling, today used all over the peninsula in clubs and by individuals, is the little, unassuming link between us today and our ancestors.
Again, I say: Shoot Sharp – Think Free – Live Proudly.
The rest is in God’s hand.