As a young boy on the farm I can recall having my dad help me make a crude slingshot out of a ‘Y’-shaped willow branch, with a strip of rubber from an old bicycle inner tube as the power source.
The creation was crude to be sure, and with whatever stones found in the gravel of the driveway making for rather inaccurate ammunition I can’t recall ever hitting a sparrow, although yes I shot at a few around the hog feed bin.
I suspect many of us have somewhat similar memories, and most, like myself, long ago put down our slingshots in favour of other pursuits.
For some, that will have meant pursuing other shooting sports, air rifle, archery, and others.
But this summer I picked up a slingshot again, this one a model from www.simple-shot.com
The experience had me thinking about why slingshot shooting is not far more widely popular.
We see, as an example, archery taught at many summer youth camps, and the local high school has a widely popular archery club that has had students traveling internationally for competitions.
By comparison to archery slingshots are easier to teach the basics of, and lower cost for both the slingshot itself over a bow, and for shooting balls over arrows.
As far as an activity, it would be rather easy to set up a target. It appears most slingshot events, and yes there are shoots, use 10-centimetre targets with shooters 10-metres away.
A thick tarp should make a reasonable backdrop to catch balls.
As the instruction manual for the slingshot I have notes, make sure you have an adequate backstop for your target. That stands with the suggestion of knowing your target and what’s behind it – do not shoot at anything you don’t intend to destroy, since a high speed metal ball can do a lot of damage.
That is one thing I will credit the manufacturer with, they promote safety with a slingshot first and foremost, including wearing eye protection, which is logical, you can imagine what might happen if a band breaks.
Simple Shot also recommends that while “slingshots can be used recreationally, they are not “toys” adding, “those under 18 years of age should always be supervised by an adult when using/shooting.”
Simple Shot also provides good guidelines for slingshot care and shooting.
For example, “always store bands in a cool, dark place when not in use. Do not expose bands to high temperatures — like in your car on a summer day.”
They also recommend ammo. “Dense balls are best. Any object that is roughly spherical such as marbles, ball bearings or lead round balls. It should shoot fast and straight.”
When target shooting “use lighter ammo permitting lighter bands and higher velocity with light ammo – flat trajectory.”
As for targeting “many shooters simply line up the edge of the band with the target, sighting along the bands length much like a gun barrel. This will get your windage very close with only elevation adjustments needing to be made. Others simply watch the shot and correct for the next, ‘intuitively’ aiming without using specific, conscious aiming points.”
I was also interested to read a bit about the science of a slingshot.
“The percent of elongation – most bands reach peak performance at around 500 per cent elongation. If you have a thirty inch draw length and your active band length is six inches, you have reached 500 per cent elongation. At this point, you are achieving good performance coupled with moderate band life. One could shorten the active band length in this example by one inch, which would push the bands to 600 per cent elongation. The result would be more speed but at the expense of shortened band life. Going past 600 per cent elongation does little to incrementally increase speed and drastically reduces band life,” noted the material.
You can learn more about slingshots as a sport/recreation at www.slingshotforum.com
If anyone is interested feel free to contact calmar...@sasktel.net