A common question from beginning whip-crackers is, “What type and size whip would you suggest?” Even people with some whip-cracking experience will ask this from time to time. The answer is not the same for everyone, as it depends on a number of factors. What a person plans to do with a whip, how old a person is, their stature, hand size, how much room is available to them; these are some of the things that help determine what the right whip is for that person. So, what’s the right whip for you?
First, let’s narrow the choices to what type of whip is right for you with some questions.
>What’s your skill level?
Are you a complete newbie? Do you have some whip experience? Are you very proficient & want to improve your skills, such as learn two-handed whip-cracking? For most beginners, I usually suggest choosing a bullwhip as a first whip, but a snakewhip can be a good choice for some. A short snake is portable & can be concealed in a pocket. This is good for going to the park or in a backyard. For those who are well versed in cracking bullwhips & would like to bring their skill to a higher level, then a pair of stockwhips will help in learning two-handed routines. This is where the next question comes in.
>What is your objective?
What do you want to do with a whip? Are you someone who just wants to have some fun & mess around with whip-cracking now & then, or do you want to become a proficient whip-cracker? Do you want to learn all the basic cracks, as well as put together some multiple cracking routines? Are you a horse trainer, cattle rancher or have another profession where a whip can serve you? These questions will help you narrow the choices on what type of whip is right for your situation.
If you’d like to have a whip to carry in your pocket while out walking your dog, then take out & do some flicks now & then, then a small pocket style snakewhip is a good choice. The Baby Snake will work great for this.
If you want to learn all the basic cracks, as well as put together some combinations, then a bullwhip will fit your needs. A bullwhip has a stiff handle portion, unlike a snakewhip, & gives the user more leverage & control. Combination cracks are much easier to perform with a bullwhip than a snakewhip. For this, a Catalyst Bullwhip is highly recommended.
If you already have some whip-cracking experience & want a higher quality bullwhip, then a Standard Bullwhip is a great choice, as well as a wood-handled Lumberjack Bullwhip. These bullwhips are a step up from the Catalyst, being more durable & of better construction. The next level up from there is the Standard X Bullwhip, which features a 20 plait polyester overlay. These whips roll out smoother & are the easiest handling & cracking bullwhips from Noreast Whips. If you’re looking primarily for a whip for target cutting, The Cutter is the way to go.
Once you’ve decided on what type of whip to choose, the next decision to make is what size, or length to choose for your whip-cracking endeavors.
>What’s your physical stature?
If you’re a young person under 15 yrs old, or of small stature, then a whip over 6 ft will probably not be a wise choice. The longer a whip is, the heavier it weighs & the slower will be its movement. A long whip also requires strict form & technique, as well as a larger space to swing it around. Many people have an idea of swinging a very long whip as seen in the movies. But a long whip can be very tiring to use, and ultimately will limit your practice time with it. A long whip is something I consider to be over 8 ft long.
An important thing to keep in mind is that a whip’s overall length is longer than the stated length. The stated length for a bullwhip or snakewhip is of its braided portion only. The fall & cracker will add anywhere from 2-4 feet, depending on the size whip. The measurement of a bullwhip or snakewhip is from the butt (base of handle) to the end of the braided portion. The fall & cracker aren’t included in a whip’s stated length. A stockwhip’s length is a measurement of the thong only, & does not include the fall, cracker & handle length. A 4 ft stockwhip means the whip has a 4 ft thong. The handle can be anywhere from 15-24 inches.
So, for most beginning whip-crackers, a 6 ft bullwhip is an excellent choice. This is why the Catalyst bullwhip was built, primarily for beginning whip enthusiasts. However, many whip instructors & other experienced whip-crackers are finding that the Catalyst is a good choice for practicing & performing.
If your hand size is small, then a large diameter handle will be too awkward & tiring to use. A 12 Plait Nylon Bullwhip is better suited for small children, most women & those with smaller hands. They measure a bit over 5/8 of an inch. The Catalyst whips are slightly larger in diameter than the 12 plait models, & the Standard Bullwhips & Snakewhips are even larger, measuring roughly .860 of an inch.
Another point to consider about long whips is that the longer the whip, the more limited are its uses. A whip that’s over 10 ft long will be much slower moving than a 6 ft whip. Fast multiple cracking routines aren’t normally accomplished with long whips. Whips that are over 12 ft are usually used for one or two cracks. They’re not suited for volleys, combinations & quick routines.
Below is a quick reference list on the type & size of whip I suggest for most people.
Children under 12 yrs old & most women……..4-6 ft 12 Plait Bullwhip, Lumberjack Jr. or Catalyst.
All others……………………………………………Catalyst Bullwhip or 6-7 ft Standard Bullwhip.
>Standard or Standard X Bullwhip
Advanced Or Performance Level