Mankind’s fascination with projectile weapons had begun millennia before, of course, with rocks. At first, people figured they had to hang on to the rock and just bash the heck out of whatever. This was fine if you were bashing nuts or other rocks, but turned out to be problematic if you were bashing, for instance, a leopard. It took surprisingly little time for someone to point out that maybe it would be more survivable to throw the rocks – preferably from the top of a cliff while disguised as someone from the next clan. Throwing rocks was a big hit, and remained all the rage for ages before someone figured out that a rock in a leather pouch suspended at the end of a leather rope could be whirled about the head and launched at a target with enormous force. This was simply beyond cool, and guys were happily slinging rocks at various animals for tens of thousands of years before David discovered that they were also useful against giants.
Still, slings suffered from three problems, which, as time went on, became matters of greater and greater concern. First, it took a really long time to learn to use them, and neophyte slingers spent a good deal of that time smacking themselves in the head, which was no fun at all. Second, they were of very limited range, which may not seem like such a big deal to you because you’ve never been charged by a pissed-off cave-bear with newly swelling sling-stone knots on his head. Third, careful onlookers were able to discern that even after the cave-bear had knots bashed into his head with sling-stones, the freaking thing was still very much alive, and was able to visit his displeasure in gruesome fashion on the slingers.
(Look, you don’t want to know what a hunter looks like after a pissed-off Cave Bear has finished with him. Ewww.)
The development of the bow was, therefore, hailed as a great innovation by everyone except the Cave-Bears, who found this sort of thing utterly unfair. Worse, when flint arrow-heads came along, the bears thoroughly objected to the innovation, because, damn it, humans had already been using spears made that way, and who the hell could get a nice winter’s hibernation with all that on their mind?
It is no coincidence that Cave-Bears went extinct about 28,000 years ago. Right about the time nicely crafted stone arrow-heads started showing up in, you guessed it, caves.
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