Competitive shooters offer a different perspective on this chapter of David’s life. Many people probably assume the story implies that G-d guided David’s stone into Goliath’s head–they view the shot as a sort of biblical miracle. I don’t see it that way. David had probably grown up using a sling daily to drive predators away from his flock. He probably had lots of time to practice out in the middle of nowhere with his flock, slinging away at distant targets to pass the time and focus his mind (we target shooters know that shooting practice clears the mind and develops mental focus). David probably already had the skill necessary to make his Goliath-stopping shot prior to the encounter.
But hitting X’s in practice is one thing, hitting them under pressure is something altogether different! Few shooters are able to shoot as well under the pressure of competition as they shoot in a practice session. The pulse rate rises, the hands might tremor, vision changes, breathing gets shorter, and the weapon just feels different in your hands. It takes time and experience to overcome these problems, all of which are entirely self induced, and often the manifestation of hidden self-doubts. I’ve never been hunting or in the military, but I would imagine the first time you have a living thing in your sights, the pressure is even greater. All too often, the result is a terrible shot.
But David had none of these problems. If you are a Jewish marksman, reread this story you once read as a child. Put yourself in David’s shoes, and try to discover how he was able to make the shot. Please post your comments and insights on the blog!
(If any scholars can point out an earlier example of Jewish marksmanship, please leave a citation in the comments! I vaguely remember there may be reference to archers somewhere in the Torah…)