The weight of a bullwhip or any whip for that matter
is mostly determined by how much stuff is on the inside, ie: how
many bellies, bolsters or fillers. The less stuff the the thinner
and the lighter it will be. There is a limit however as to what is
too thin or too thick. In the case of a bullwhip, thinner lighter
whips tend to be really fast and very good for multiple cracks like
seen in competition whip cracking routines. While this works very
well for bullwhips that are shorter say between 3-6 feet it begins
to be detrimental
the longer the whip gets, as the added weight of the thong on longer
whips that are too thin will start to put too much stress on the
junction at the handle causing them to wear out quickly. For this
reason I have
found it important to slightly beef up the inside of longer whips
say 8 feet and over to prevent premature wear at the junction.
bullwhips do not lend them selves to fast movement they do tend
to be more accurate than a lighter bullwhip. This is because the
a lighter whip will tend to float in the air and is more susceptible
to friction caused by the influence of air and wind, while a heavier
whip is less susceptible to these influences and will tend to stay
on track. It has been my experience that if one wanted to use a bullwhip
primarily for target work then heavier is better. That is why people
that do a lot of target work tend to like the tip of the thong to
be a bit heavier. There is a limit though as to how heavy a whip
can be for a few reasons. Obviously if it is too heavy it will be
impossible to throw for any length of time no matter how well balanced
it is. Also, if the tip of the whip is very heavy it will usually
be thicker and it will not transfer energy well, making it harder
to crack. In addition whips with very heavy tips tend to feel as
though they are going to pull
out of your hand when they crack which makes accurate control difficult.
Through trial and error I have discovered a very efficient way to
weight a bullwhip so that it rolls out very straight and is ideal
for target work without adding weight to the thong or changing the
As you learned in the last article a whip's taper is of primary
importance to it's function. All that being said In the case of a
bullwhip one could also add lead shot to the core to give it more
weight but this is usually only seen on the lower end whips as it
tends to cause the junction between the handle and the thong to break
down rather quickly.
All of this changes a bit when you get into signalwhips
and snakewhips as the weight of these types of whips is primarily
due to how much lead is in the shot bag. In case you don't know signalwhips
and snakewhips have tapered bags filled with lead shot as their core.
The reason for this is because they lack the leverage of a solid
handle and need to make up for it by adding mass to the whip to make
it crack efficiently. However the ideas about the taper still hold
true for these types of whips.
Oh, and one more thing just so you know. Whips are
normally measured by the plaited leather as that is where all the
work is and plaiting is what the whip maker is charging you for.
That and his expertise. So if you want to know how to measure any
whip, measure the parts that are plaited. The only exceptions to
this are bullwhips with a wooden or non plaited handles, stock whips
and Florida cow whips. In the case of a bullwhip with a wooden or
non-plaited handle you would measure from the butt end of the handle
to the fall's keeper knot. For stock whips and Florida Cow whips
you measure just the thong.