Did Aboriginal Australians know slings?

Search on scholar.google did not find anything and Google only showed this photo of 1940, so they could get this idea from Europeans.

If they knew slings that would explain why they did not use bows - some groups in Eurasia preferred slings to bows as well.

  • 2
    Changed to ask about slings. Slingshots are a modern invention, requiring something akin to rubber. Presumably that's not what you're asking about.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 5:02
  • Interestingly enough, his link to the Australian War Memorial also calls it a slingshot.
    – justCal
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 0:46
  • 1
    @justCal - Yes it does. Arguably the typical English usage of the words isn't clear-cut enough to put it in quite the absolute terms I did. Still, since we have an edit button, might as well go ahead and make our terminology more precise.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 3:57
  • 2
    @T.E.D. in the UK, the rubber slingshot is often called a catapult, and "slingshot" can be used for other things that sling shots. I've no idea where the OP is from but Australian English may follow British use here
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


The ranged weaponry niche occupied by bows and slings in most other parts of the world was in Australia occupied by boomerangs and woomera (spear-thrower).

These wouldn't have had the long range of a sling or bow. However, that longer range has to be achieved through 45-degree ballistic shots, which is really most relevant for massed warfare. As hunter-gatherers, they didn't (and likely couldn't) often get together in the kind of numbers that would have made an enemy ballistically firing into their mass at range the most effective tactic.

They did have their own advantages. The aerodynamic shape of a boomerang meant it could travel on a relatively level plane for about 100 meters, which likely meant a single shot at that range from a skilled thrower is more likely to hit. The woomera-launched spear had four times more stopping power than an arrow fired from a modern compound bow.


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