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Survival Slingshots

This was submitted by a Huntsville, AL Patriot.

From: Urban Survival Site - Steve Nubie

(Photos can be found at the website.)

After World War II, the popularity of slingshots took off as commercially manufactured slingshots hit the market. It was some of the innovative ideas that came with these products that migrated slingshots from recreational toys for pinging tin cans to serious and legitimate hunting weapons.

Perhaps the most significant innovation in commercially manufactured slingshots was the Wrist Rocket introduced in 1954.

This Wrist Rocket slingshot had a brace extending from the bottom of the handle that curved over the wrist, allowing for an easier draw on the elastic bands and higher velocity. This also relieved some of the strain on the hands and wrist and provided a steadier aim and delivery. The name of this company was actually the “Wrist Rocket Company,” but they later changed their name to TruMark.

A second innovation to emerge was the use of surgical tubing as an elastic propellent rather than a strip of cut inner tube.

The surgical tubing provided the best draw on a slingshot and its uniform shape made for greater accuracy and inertia. You can find surgical tubing at some hardware stores and home centers, or at some pharmacies. You can also track it down on the Internet with a Google search for surgical tubing.

Small ball bearings also emerged as the ammunition of choice, replacing the pebbles that filled the pockets of young kids in the early days of slingshots.

Slingshot Basics

Whether a slingshot is made in a little boy’s backyard or engineered and manufactured commercially by the big boys, they all share some of the same basic characteristics in terms of their design. In nature, this is defined as a forked branch providing a handle and two uprights in a Y shape to hold an elastic band attached to a pouch. The construction is basic, but you’ll need some tools and materials.

Tools You Might Need

A tree saw with a long, extendable handle to cut branches from high in trees.

A sharp knife for peeling bark from forked branches.

Pliers for twisting wire if used.

Kitchen shears for cutting surgical tubing, rubber inner tubes, strings or floss; leather or canvas for pouches.

Materials for Slingshots:

Two uprights forming a gap that both hold the elastic bands and allow a channel for a projectile to travel through.

Elastic material that will both stretch and deliver significant force when released to propel a projectile. These could include Bungee cords, surgical tubing, rubber strips cut from an inner tube and rubber bands.

How the elastic material is attached to the slingshot is important and there are numerous ways to do it. We’ll cover a few as we go.

A pouch to hold the projectile. Sometimes a small hole is cut into the center of the pouch to better hold the projectile. The pouch can be made from a piece of inner tube, canvas, or leather.

This could be small pebbles or ball bearings. The smoother and rounder the pebble, the better. Ball bearings are the slingshot ammunition of choice because they are of consistent size and weight and are aerodynamic, resulting in greater accuracy. Their weight relative to their size also delivers greater speed and inertia to every shot. Marbles also work.

The disadvantage is that you’re unlikely to recover any ball bearings you shoot in a hunting situation. That’s the advantage of pebbles. They’re free.

Something else you might notice in the photo above is the collection of gravel. Think of it as slingshot buckshot. A thimbleful of gravel in a slingshot pouch can work to bring down small birds at a distance in a survival situation. It may seem unfair to the birds, but if you’re starving in the wild, everything is fair game.

While you’re hunting and gathering your rocks, you’ll want to avoid rocks that are flat or have irregular, angular surfaces.

These shapes affect the aerodynamics of the stone and they will fly off into directions far from your intended target.

Materials for Attaching Elastic to the Frame Twine or dental floss or bailing wire

Friction tape and electrical tape

Making Your Own Slingshot

The obvious starting point for making your own slingshot is to find a branch of a tree that creates a fork. How many of us have noticed that perfect shape while cleaning up branches and brush? If you’ve ever had that experience, you’ll probably be quick to find the slingshot possibilities in this tree.

Maples seem to emerge as a popular choice for slingshots. The wood is hard, and Maples seem to produce a variety of forked branches in a perfect Y shape. Green trees are best because the wood is stronger than dead wood. Once you’ve identified your branches it’s a simple matter to saw branches into a slingshot shape.

Trees to avoid include softwoods like pines, springy woods like willows, and weaker woods like boxelder. The problem with all of these tree types is that they tend to bend or yield when the slingshot is drawn. It may seem like a good idea to add a little spring to any shot, but it actually compromises speed and accuracy. This is one of the reasons why even hardwoods used for a slingshot sometimes need to be dried or seasoned after being cut.

You can leave the bark on the slingshot or shave it off if you want a smoother grip. After peeling the outer bark, you should also hold your knife vertical to the branch and scrape off the green, inner cambrium layer of slippery bark still adhering to the branch. It’s the same motion you would use to peel a carrot.

There’s a lot of advice about drying or seasoning the green wood for a slingshot. One recommendation is to slowly roast it high over a fire. Another is to wrap it in a dish towel and microwave it for 30 seconds and then wait a minute and repeat until it’s dry. In actual fact, many trees are not springy and provide a stiff, strong slingshot frame right off the tree, so seasoning is up to you. Over time the slingshot will also season itself.

Assembling Your Slingshot

We’re going to look at 4 ways to make a slingshot using a Y branch from a tree. The difference is the elastic material used to fire the slingshot.

1. Bundled Rubber Band Slingshot