If you are starting out cracking bullwhips there are a couple of things you need to know:
Don’t get a swivel handle bullwhip!
When you get your first bullwhip, a lot of people get a swivel handle bullwhip because they are cheap. Now if you don’t know what a swivel handle bullwhip, it’s one that the lash will rotate independently from the handle. Now that might sound like an advantage is you want to swing the bullwhip over your head and cut back to make a it crack, but it’s really not. You can do that same crack just as easily with a bullwhip with a fixed handle.
The biggest problem with a swivel handle is because the lash can rotate you can’t control where the whip is going by just holding the handle. My first bullwhip was a swivel handle and I used to hold the bullwhip with my thumb on the transition knot to keep it from swiveling when I cracked…that’s not good technique and makes things much harder to do!
The handle is a handle in name only!
When you crack a bullwhip you hold the handle, but you don’t really hold the handle. At the bottom of most bullwhips there’s a little decorative knot. It’s called a turks head and usually you hold that in the palm of your hand (there’s a slight exception for longer handled bullwhips) when you crack it, so it’s like a ball and socket joint.
If you are holding the bullwhip’s handle like you would a hammer you aren’t using the leverage that the handle give you to it’s full potential!
Focus on technique not power (super loudness)!
When you use proper technique from the beginning and not muscle you’ll make learning more complex bullwhip cracks much easier in the future. A well made bullwhip does most of the work in cracking for you. With the proper technique all you do is put the right shape into the lash as you “throw” it out and the bullwhip does the rest.
Also using too much strength when cracking is not only bad for the whip, it will lead to you replacing more crackers and bullwhip falls, which will cost you money!!
So where do you learn to crack a bullwhip properly? The best place is from someone in person who know how. However that’s not always possible, so the next best place is from a DVD, I recommend the Whip Cracking Made Easy series (two volumes) by Mark Allen and Alex Green.
Always wear eye protection!
When you crack a bullwhip, the crack is the popper of the bullwhip breaking the speed of sound, and when you are cracking your bullwhip it’s flying around your head. For a beginner you’d be an idiot to knot wear safety goggles!
I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that when you smack yourself in the eye with a bullwhip it’s not a good! If you are just starting out and are more concerned with “looking cool” by not wearing proper safety gear, then you really aren’t smart enough to crack a bullwhip and shouldn’t.
Also while you are at it, you should wear hearing protection and jeans and a jacket to protect your limbs!
Here’s the tips in a nutshell:
Do a bit of research and buy a decent bullwhip. Now I said a decent one, you don’t need to spend $700 on a bullwhip…you can get a good budget/beginners bullwhip for under $175. Learn to use your bullwhip properly and wear proper safety equipment. Oh and have fun learning to crack a bullwhip!