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I have a character who is, for lack of a better term, a Monster Hunter. She's physically fit, has a pretty high pain tolerance/is generally pretty durable, and is skilled in various forms of hand-to-hand combat. The problem is that she's also Not Very Big- 4'11, maybe 135 lbs soaking wet- and while she's proportionally fairly strong due to her Ridiculous Personal Training Regimen, there's still only so much force she can exert with that much mass, and sometimes the Baddies are just Too Big/A Ridiculous Temperature/otherwise Unwise To Touch and likely to Kill Her Very Badly if she gets too close.

The obvious solution is, of course, a ranged weapon; something to Shoot Some Zelda-Boss Looking Beastie Right Between The Eyes before it can Raze The Village or whatever. Except that there's another problem: our heroine, in addition to being a frankly hilarious size given her line of work, is also severely myopic, to the point where she might be bordering on "Legally Blind/Not Allowed To Drive Without Corrective Lenses" territory nowadays. She is... Really probably not the best person for this job, but my question is more about workarounds than it is about her questionable career choices. XD

She does have access to Corrective Lenses for this problem, and wears them on the job; however, while they dramatically improve her general vision, they're roughly equivalent to the sorts of lens technology used for spectacles in the late 1800's-maybe early 1900's, and as a result are more General Magnifiers than Specific Prescription Lenses (they're big heavy suckers too, an inch thick and taking up Most of Her Face XD), so I'm not sure if that would affect things like accuracy and depth perception at all. As someone who uses Modern, Specialized Corrective Lenses myself and still can't hit the broad side of a barn with anything, trying to imagine what kind of ranged weapon this Unusual Monster Hunter might use, and how she might compensate, is difficult.

I do have one idea that fits a few of the themes of her story: a sling, like in the biblical example of David and Goliath. Hits hard, ammo is literally All Over The Ground (can be knapped into a better shape for throwing if you have time), concussive force kills plenty of things outright and probably at least stuns larger foes if you can get them in the head, you don't have to be very big to generate a lot of momentum/energy with it... The only problem is, I've never used one myself and have no idea how accurate you have to be in order to do any damage with it. As long as she can focus her vision enough to discern Roughly Where The Head/Other Vulnerable Spot is, is that going to be enough to allow her to hit the mark? And how much damage could she reasonably do this way, assuming the enemy in question isn't Plated All Over Like An Armored Truck?

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    $\begingroup$ Big mistake if she's myopic (shortsighted) and wearing magnifiers (which correct for long sight). Her distance sight will be even worse than it was to start with. I suggest she finds a better optician. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jan 16 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ Oops! I think I've made some errors in my research... I'm Farsighted and Astigmatic, so I think I might have gotten her stuff mixed up with mine XD $\endgroup$ – BonnetBee Jan 17 at 0:10
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One key note is that you should never underestimate what the seeing impaired can infer with proper training. My mom for example is legally blind from toxoplasmosis; so, I'd imagine her vision is as bad if not worse than you are describing. Yet, she can beat most normally seeing people in a game of ping-pong despite not seeing the ball. People who only see form tend to get very good at paying attention to body language and posturing which could not only help her guess where the bad guy is, but where his soft spot will be 3-seconds from now for a dead-on hit.

As for the sling, it is important not to confuse these for a slingshot. Slingshots are not good for killing anything bigger than a squirrel, but with practice a sling can deliver a similar force to a mid-high calibre handgun.

Recent experiments conducted in Germany showed that a 50-gram Roman bullet hurled by a trained slinger has only slightly less stopping power than a .44 magnum cartridge fired from a handgun. Other tests revealed that a trained slinger could hit a target smaller than a human being from 130 yards away. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/05/ancient-slingshot-lethal-44-magnum-scotland/

As for what size monster a sling could be used against, we know from ancient accounts that slings could kill lions and armored soldiers without problem, and if it's stopping power is in fact similar to a .44 magnum, then even killing an elephant sized foe in the right hands is not out of the question.

The only real downside of a sling compared to other ancient ranged weapons (for a well trained user), is that you do need to be in a more open position to use it so it does not snag on anything.

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    $\begingroup$ I've also just found out about sling-staffs; given that her usual weapon is something akin to a blackthorn shillelagh, it would take very little modification to make her weapon into a two-in-one, and by extension, turn herself into a Tiny Human Trebuchet XD $\endgroup$ – BonnetBee Jan 16 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ A note about sling staffs is that they make it easy to throw much heavier missiles than a hand sling, but because they release like a normal catapult you only have a semicircular arc to accelerate before it releases vs a handsling that can be spun several times as you accelerate it. This means that it will often have a lower projectile velocity and heavier ammo. Such weapons may be more effective at hurling shield smashing missiles into a formation of armored soldiers, but may deliver less penetrating force to kill a larger fleshy foe. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Jan 23 at 15:07
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Since you say she is a type that makes a Ridiculous Personal Training Regimen. A sling is a viable weapon. They are popular in the Middle-East even today. You can make a sling that will throw a fist sized rock a quarter mile (400m) and with practice hit accurately. They are cheap and easy to make. Even if she is myopic she should be able to practice enough to hit man sized targets or larger.

One serious advantage that may be an idea depending on your setting, alternative ammo: a few smaller rocks for a shotgun effect, a bola round to tangle them up, or throw some kind of potion bottle that does tear gas, an expanding sticky compound, sleep gas, or something like that.

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As you said, a sling deals damage by impact.

Having, as a kid, played quite often with throwing stones (either by hand or with some slingshot) to hunt lizards and other small animals, I have also received my fair amount of "friendly fire".

Though a kid doesn't have that much force, I cannot state that there was a part of my body I would choose as target to be hit since it causes less pain.

Now I imagine that a trained person will be able to put quite some kinetic energy in that projectile, that would either deeply concuss a body, should it hit a limb, or even case more severe damage, should it hit the body or the head.

Being able to see at least the location of the target should suffice to address some shots, without needing the perception of fine details. The only problem could be to discriminate between a still target and an inanimate object close by, like a bush or a tree.

To have an insight of the damaging power of the slingshot, this is what the Roman Vegetius wrote

Soldiers, notwithstanding their defensive armour, are often more annoyed by the round stones from the sling than by all the arrows of the enemy. Stones kill without mangling the body, and the contusion is mortal without loss of blood

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Probably not a good choice

Slings (including staff slings) have several advantages when compared to bows, crossbows and firearms:

  • Slings are very cheap and quick to manufacture with materials that are likely to be easily sourced.
  • A sling is very light and easily concealable.
  • A sling can be used to launch unusual ammunition types, even including grenades (for those willing to live very dangerously).

With all of these advantages, why do people use anything else for hunting and warfare? Well, the disadvantages are:

  • the sling must be used from a standing position (unlike crossbows and firearms, which can be fired from a prone and/or covered position with minimal exposure)
  • the slinger needs a considerable amount of clear space around and above themselves to swing the sling, depending on the length of the sling and technique (overhand or sideways) being used. Even clipping relatively light branches or shrubbery in the path of the swing will eliminate accuracy, while use is completely impossible in tunnels, doorways or cramped indoor quarters.
  • rate of fire is very slow compared to both bows and most firearms - this is literally the killing weakness for the monster hunter, as if the one shot does not eliminate the monster there will not be time for a second.
  • vast amounts of training and practice are required to employ the sling effectively and accurately. This is the main reason that crossbows and subsequently firearms were adopted by armies worldwide - a soldier can be trained to reliably hit a man-sized target at battlefield ranges within a few weeks using a crossbow or firearm. Achieving equivalent effectiveness with a bow or sling takes months or years of training and constant practice. This may not be a problem for a dedicated monster hunter, but the time taken training with the sling is time not spent on other activities.

Looking at the situations described where a ranged option is desirable:

  • Ridiculous temperature / unwise to touch (poison skin?) - in these situations firearms are best but a long spear made of an appropriate material would still be preferable to a sling unless any target bigger than a squirrel.
  • Too big - this is the reason elephant guns were invented. A sling can be effective against humans, but if the monster is much bigger and tougher than a human then sling ammunition will just be an annoyance as it closes. Use a firearm with lots of punch.
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    $\begingroup$ The availability of firearms is not made clear by the question, but anything short of a mid 1800's firearm would not necessarily be better, just a different pros and cons list. As for using a longspear against untouchable opponents, I don't see the advantage as a sling would have a clear range advantage keeping such foes at a safer distance. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Jan 16 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ A spear's not much good in single combat unless your opponent only attacks by charging. There's a reason why spears are used to hunt boars, but wolves are preferentially hunted with bows. $\endgroup$ – Mark Jan 16 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 Depending on the technique, a slinger can require a lot less space than you'd think. This video amply demonstrates that you can still get a lot of power even with a very basic overarm movement. Enough to pierce clean through 20% ballistic gel at short range: youtube.com/watch?v=X-I5RjodS80 The point about clipping and firing from a standing position still stands though. Oh, and learning to be accurate with a sling is not too difficult. Certainly comparable to learning to be accurate with a bow, although the crossbow does have an advantage. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 17 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark That's a common misconception with spears that is largely false. It's not quite scientific (although it is backed up by earlier, more scientific study), but this video clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of a spear in single combat: youtube.com/watch?v=uLLv8E2pWdk It is clearly superior to a sword, and roughly equal to a sword and shield combo (with some interesting caveats that spear+shield is ineffective unless in formation). $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 17 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Aethenosity Yeah it's an excellent video :) both entertaining and informative. There's a half-hour long version as well that includes a lot more of the bouts with similar commentary ;) certainly changed my opinion on spears. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 18 at 11:32
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Crossbow

Crossbow is a better option as it could be fitted with a telescopic sight to compensate for the vision problems. Even fitted with a single lense would assist.

The first telescopic rifle sight was invented in 1835 and the first telescope was 1608.

A sling is hard to use and not the sort of thing a person with poor eyesight would want to rely on for a sure kill as any kill would be mostly pure luck.

A crossbow can be loaded ahead of time and fired from cover in an ambush. The bolt can be barbed and poisoned helping take the monster down and different bolts can be made for a monster's weakness such as silver bolts for werewolves and wooden bolts for vampires. Barbed harpoon bolts could tether the monster to a spot to stop it from fleeing.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem with a telescopic sight is that you need to know the range to your target to compensate for projectile drop, which makes them only practical for ambush combat scenarios. (And a crossbow has considerably more drop than a rifle, which makes knowing the range even more important.) $\endgroup$ – Mark Jan 16 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ Every projectile weapon (including slings) has projectile drop and somehow, skilled users managed to compensate with and without telescopic sights throughout the ages. The point is to compensate for the eyesight problems $\endgroup$ – Thorne Jan 16 at 23:29

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