The slingshot that reader Vana2 made for me of buckthorn wood.
This report covers:
- I know nothing
- What is a slingshot?
- A slingshot is not a sling
- Are slingshots deadly?
- Enter Hank
- Online again
- Ordered ammo
Today we’re going to start talking about slingshots. I don’t remember exactly how this report got started, but reader Hank who goes by the name Vana2 on this blog was talking about making some slingshots during the winter season. He talked a lot about how he liked shooting them and I wondered how accurate I could become with one. I know you readers are interested in things like this, so I thought it would be neat to have Hank make a slingshot for me and I could learn how to shoot it and all about it while you guys watched and commented. And I’m sure there are several of you who also shoot slingshots and can chime in with your experiences.
I know nothing
“I know nothing,” is a quote by Sargent Hans Schultz from the television sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, but it also accurately describes my own knowledge of slingshots. Once I started looking into the subject I found out how much I didn’t know — which was everything. But first let me define what I am talking about.
What is a slingshot?
The thing I am calling a slingshot is also more correctly called a catapult. It launches projectiles by the force of a rapidly contracting elastic band. Sometimes there are variations on that theme but the elastic material contracting is the power source. We have discussed catapults on this blog several dozen times.
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A slingshot is not a sling
When David killed Goliath he didn’t use a slingshot. He used a sling, though in the United Kingdom the sling I’m talking about can be called a slingshot. It’s also known as a shepherd’s sling, as David was a shepherd before he became king of Judah and then Israel. I am differentiating shepherd’s slings from catapulting slingshots in this report.
A shepherd’s sling is a weapon that launches projectiles by centrifugal force. You whirl it around (there are several different ways to do this) and let go of one side of the sling to release the projectile that flies off in a path defined by where it was released. It extends the reach of your arm, making you a giant when you throw. The rocks that it throws are about the size of tennis balls and are therefore quite deadly. It’s a deadly weapon that takes lots of practice to master.
A catapulting slingshot should take less practice, though. And we shall all watch as I embarrass myself in front of the world, learning how.
Are slingshots deadly?
Yes, slingshots are deadly and can take small to medium-sized game (I define medium-sized as smaller than a coyote, but larger than a squirrel). And modern slingshots have some technology that has advanced in recent times. When I was a boy in the 1950s our slingshots were always made at home. We used a forked branch and the most common elastic bands we used were cut from the inner tubes of tires. These days unless you ride a bike you probably never see an inner tube.
Well, like many before me, I have owned several slingshots that use surgical rubber tubing as their elastic bands. They are what Pyramyd Air currently carries. They look good and sound good in the ads and they are certainly hard to pull back so they must be powerful downrange, but they aren’t as accurate as they could be. For accuracy you want flat rubber bands on your slingshot. And Theraband Gold is considered the very best. I didn’t say that — the slingshot experts are saying it.
The best slingshot bands for accuracy are flat bands made from Theraband Gold.
So I emailed Hank to talk about the possibility of getting one of his handmade slingshots. Here is his response.
Think that slingshots would make an interesting blog series, I considered doing a guest blog on them a couple of times. There’s quite a bit to them that relates to airgunning.
My style of shooting airguns comes directly from shooting slingshots and bows instinctively.
As a youth I hunted small game with a slingshot and always carried one around with me. Used to be able to do 1 inch at 10 yards (bottle caps) no problem. Looking forward to getting back to that level next summer.
I’d suggest checking out the videos from Simple Shot. Nathan has a whole series of how to setup and use slingshots. https://youtube.com/@simpleshot“
Along with that response Hank sent me photos of two slingshots he had made. I’ll share them now.
Two slingshots Hank made, side one.
The other side of Hank’s two slingshots.
When I opened the package from Hank I saw what you see at the top of this page. It is beautiful, but it felt very wide in my hand. And with that the lesson had begun. When I commented on the width here is what Hank said to me.
“Glad you like it! Buckthorn has a nice glow to it, difficult to photograph though.
“As per the grip, modern slingshots are usually held in a “clamp grip” across the base of the forks (that’s the dimension I asked you about) or as a “braced grip” with the thumb positioned against the lower fork to provide leverage against the power of the bands. The slingshot nestles into the palm of the hand rather than being gripped around the handle. The last three fingers “hold” the slingshot against the palm of your hand with the strap over the wrist.
“Yours is a through-the-forks clamp grip style and, though a little tall, it can also be setup for over the top shooting in case you want to try that.
“Try it as is, if it’s not comfortable the finger and thumb cutouts can be deepened.
“Please let me know how it feels once you’ve shot it a bit.
You see, Hank had asked me to send him some measurements of my hand to go by. Here is his image from that message.
This is how Hank had me measure my hand for him.
So I went online to learn how to hold a slingshot. That sounds like taking lessons in breathing, but actually there is whole lot to it. Aiming and the release of the projectile plus follow through are factored into the hold as well. Whoda thunk?
I also ordered some ammo for this slingshot. I ordered some 8mm steel balls per Hank’s recommendation. They came from here — https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09S9TRT33/ref=ppx_od_dt_b_asin_title_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I also ordered some 8mm (roughly) clay balls from a different source — https://www.ebay.com/itm/304358076897 I wanted to make sure I had what I needed to shoot this slingshot for you.
That’s where I’ll leave it for this time. I know some of you are already shooting slingshots. How about sharing your thoughts and experiences with us today?
43 thoughts on “Shooting a Hank slingshot: Part One”
Definitely going to follow through with this as that I can’t strum a ukulele.
Based on what I hear, I can’t strum a ukulele either! 😉
Here’s a picture of the type of catapult I’m most familiar with… 🙂
…however, it’s been so long, I couldn’t tell you the foot-pounds of energy, maximum effective range or the minutes of angle precision – but they usually hit and stung, or at least, annoyed! 🙂
Many moons ago, I had a real nice slingshot. It was made of aluminum rod and had a wrist brace and the forks were almost a foot in front of my hand. It used surgical rubber tubing. It was very powerful and very accurate. Like the fool I am, I let it get away.
I now have one of these upstairs in my office.
I also have one of these for my grandson.
I have not played around with it much, but I would enjoy the opportunity to learn it and also make a decent slingshot similar to Hank’s. I will be following this series very closely.
I’ve always wondered about those pocket shots. So do tell, are the “accurate” per say? Good velocity? Do you find them easier to shoot/,ore accurate than a typical sling shot?
I would hesitate to recommend these over regular slingshots as they can be more difficult to aim. Having said that, with practice it can become as powerful and deadly as any other slingshot. They are a novelty which I decided to try.
I would suggest that you use a strong blanket to hang up as a backstop. You can hang it on a clothes line if you have one and allow the other end to hang down loosely to the ground and run along the ground toward you. You can then hang various size targets in the middle of it and as the projectiles impact the loose blanket, they will fall down to the ground on the blanket. Clear as mud?
P.S. A sheet will work also. You do want your backstop to be able to give some. This will help absorb the impact.
My plan is to use a box of rubber mulch that I can then clean with a magnet.
That will work with the ball bearings, but will not be so good with those clay projectiles.
Those are beautiful! The demand from your fellow airgunners just skyrocketed!
B.B. and Hank,
Great idea, KISS.
When I use the surgical tubing, after a year or so it turns to goo here in the Caribbean, Why?
I college, the frat boys would make what they called a gesorch out of surgical tubing and a funnel.
They could launch water balloons over 100 yards!
B.B. said, ” That sounds like taking lessons in breathing”. There are classes in this, whole religions too….
A comment about Buckthorn… Where Osage is called “bois d’arc” (bow wood) Buckthorn, because of the branching way it grows, should be called “catapult wood”. Buckthorn is always full of kinks, knots and cracks which gives each piece a unique character. Being such a dense hardwood, it takes a fine polish. The orange heartwood shows deep, moving highlights that contrasts nicely against the silver-gray sapwood. I wish that Buckthorn grew large enough to make a stock from – that would be awesome!
Just wanted to clarify a term that I use. What I call a “clamp grip” most people refer to as a “pinch grip”. That doesn’t make sense to me because I think of “pinching” as being done with fingers where the whole hand grip “clamps” the slingshot in the hand. Sorry for any confusion.
Since you mentioned it I thought I’d comment about my experience with a shepherds sling. The shepherds sling is one of those ho-hum looking things that is anything but ho-hum! It’s a very powerful weapon (and very dangerous in the hands of unskilled users) that can launch an egg-sized projectile hundreds of yards with over 100 fpe of energy. They are NOT toys for kids! I mention this as a caution, a sling is very simple to make but challenging to control. I’ve used slings since my first childhood and have seen a number of people knocked unconscious or seriously injured by them. That being said, slings are an interesting historical weapon that are fun to learn and use. You can make a sling from an old leather boot and its laces in 10 minutes… just practice well away from spectators and breakable things. Wiki has a good blurb on shepherds slings if you’re curious… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sling_(weapon)
Read Hank’s Wiki blurb about the power of slings. Will get your attention. Still being used as a weapon.
BB and Vana2,
I’m glad to see slingshot coverage in the blog, thank you, this is going to be fun.
This is my Wrist Rocket that I’ve had since about 1978. And my cat Ruby Roux, who joined the fun. The tubing is the “inner tube” from those “shrivel hoses” which are garden hoses that get longer when they’re pressurized with water, then shrivel down when depressurized. They tend to fail when you pull on them to test if the hose is really, really all the way extended. The tubing is good, though it looks awful. Those marks along the tubes are left from the nylon sleeve when the hose is shriveled into its crinkly, dormant phase and are “Just flesh wounds.” I shoot with safety glasses on.
The problem with this free elastic material, is that it’s like a magnum springer to shoot and I would enjoy a lighter pull for a more relaxing shooting session. I’m looking for a slingshot that shoots more like an HW30S.
I have something like a Wrist Rocket that has surgical tubing for the bands. Now that I can compare it I can guaranteed that Hank’s slingshot is an HW30 of the slingshot world.
There is a rule of thumb for cutting the length of the powr tubing or bands: it is 1:5. As an example when you are at full draw if the measurement is 35″ then the power tubing or bands on each arm to the attachment point on the pocket would be 7″ in length; plus what is needed for loops and/or tying off. You can get more service life of the elastic by increasing the length a little with less power given the same draw length. Conversely if you shorten the elastic length a little you will get shorter service life on the elastics but a little bit more power.
The best way to get more power is to get tubing or bands that have a faster contraction. I used to know the term shootists use for that but can’t for the life of me draw it out of deep storage.
I switched over to the David’s Sling (Shepard’s Sling) after getting some training in the art in Spain and then in Israel as an adult. The range and energy delivered by the David’s is almost unbelievable with a World Record 400 meter accurate hit with an American football shaped (nasty points at both ends) projectile. Hank is correct about the delivered energy with common projectiles.
He is also correct about how dangerous they are in the hands of the untrained; You Might Take The Top of Someones Head Off!
I have a bunch of Kevlar twine waiting for construction of an experiment on weaving the ULTIMATE hurler. Some day!
In the meantime i’ll be watching B.B. “baptism” in experiencing Catapult middle finger pain infliction…!!!
PS: That draw measurement is done with a cloth tape measure or a string; NOT with an elastic.
BB and shootski,
Thanks for the replies. That 1:5 rule of thumb measurement for slingshot elastics is a handy bit of info. I just measured my setup: the pull is 26″ and the relaxed elastics are 11″, so I’m more like 1:2.4, or about double the length of the ratio you cited. I’ll have to go and test this outside. I’m sure I experimented with length, but that was done years ago and I haven’t used it in that long. I think I arrived at this length so I wouldn’t have to stretch the elastic as much. Hmm.
I shot lead wheel weights that I found while out bicycling on the road. The places I’d find them in highest concentrations on the approach to stop lights at busy intersections. I cut them with heavy wire cutters into square bits and they were better than the local stones for feral can plinking. It would be neat to cast lead balls at home. I bet 30 cal would be a good size.
I have one of these Do-It slingshot pellet molds, works great!
.30 caliber is equal to 7.62 mm,, so pretty close to the 8mm steel balls BB mentioned. You could even buy some of the airlift ammo (BBs) in 8mm. They would be lighter, obviously,, but if you are shooting indoors they would likely have adequate range and you wouldn’t have to worry so much about the cat.
And,, at about $10 a thousand,, the price is right.
Another good idea for recycled lead from the rubber mulch pellet trap.
Will, nice slingshot; and that’s one cool-looking cat. 🙂
FM may have posted this link before but hopefully you all won’t mind this read about psychological warfare involving slings; slingers from the Balearic Islands were specialists in this kind of weapon. The Roman Army deployed pretty sophisticated catapult artillery though FM supposes the technology at the time did not allow for development of an effective slingshot?
That is nice-looking wood; agree it would make some fine-looking stocks were it possible to do so.
This is a great topic. I am excited to read about your education regarding, and use of the slingshot. The slingshot is one of a variety of projectile launchers that periodically capture my interest. Unfortunately, I never practiced enough with the slingshot to gain the proficiency and accuracy I would have liked. You have inspired me- I will follow along and give it another shot.
P.S. Hank- Those slingshots look attractive and well made- good work.
Oh, man! This blog series should be a blast. I’m looking forward to future entries.
Tom, Hank, and Hihihi, you are all dredging up memories of my youth. I had one of those surgical tubing slingshot as a kid. I will follow this series with much nostalgic interest. I’m especially interested in seeing what the Labradar will report in terms of velocity and energy on target. Hank, beautiful work! Hihihi, I broke the second cardinal rule of gun (catapult) safety in elementary school with the same setup, by having battles in the cafeteria with my “friends” (cleaner than food fights).
In other news, I did not get the chance to take apart the Diana 24 J last night. Perhaps tonight. But I did reread your report, B.B., on the Diana 26 from Mr. Carel, and it has what looks like the same trigger setup, which is different (at least externally) from the Diana 27.
Does anyone out there have an owner’s manual from an evenly-numbered Diana 24, 26, etc with a “D” designation?
Very interesting blog. I’ve had many “sling shots” through out the years. From homemade sticks, homemade wood to the typical wrist rockets (metal with the wrist brace) that I still have. I was never very accurate with them. When I was young we used rocks. Wonder why we couldn’t shoot straight. Then later on glass marbles and steel shot that you can still buy today ( I think Daisy is the brand). I’ve watched many videos of people that were very accurate with these thing. So even have sights on them. I’ve even talked to a few people that used them to hunt small game. For me personally I hope to find the proper way to shoot them through this blog.
Can wait to see how this one folds out.
Today’s blog reminded me of one from a while back: “Man-powered Weapons and Ammunition: A review”, https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2014/07/man-powered-weapons-and-ammunition-a-review/
The book is excellent. In the comments of that blog the book’s author, Richard Middleton, joins the discussion.
Rereading that blog entry brought back a lot of memories. In addition to Gunfun1 and RidgeRunner, some folks who no longer comment here chipped in their thoughts, folks like Reb, Matt61, Rob, 103David, Bear . . . I just realized I’ve been reading this blog almost every morning for 1/5 of my life.
Also in the comments at the bottom of that blog entry Gunfun1, buldawg76, Reb (miss him, hope he’s OK) and I had a discussion regarding airguns and Illinois law. In the nine years since then I have come to believe I was incorrect and the word-of-mouth about Illinois’ unique (at that time) airgun law was just innaccurate, perhaps a result of wishful thinking.
Long time Slingshooter here. I’m the guy who introduced Theraband to the Slingshot community. Ask me anything 🙂
Back when web pages were a thing,I made one or two about slingshots
Mel83, in your comment you wrote “Ask me anything…”.
I find it very, very difficult not to ask you something like “What is my favourite colour?”. Oops, did I just write that out loud? 🙂
On a serious note, thanks for your website. I found “Slingshot science” particularly interesting.
I wonder if anyone has come up with some sort of alternative catapult power system yet, you know, like compound bows in archery? 🙂
Way back before airguns became the staple target/plinking weapon, there were many different designs that would blend Slingshot, crossbow, bow and airgun.
Spring powered slingshots, rubber powered crossbows, even a vacuum powered Slingshot with a plunger in its handle that is drawn out against the vacuum.
And today, there’s contraptions are coming back, mainly because they circumvent legislation in some countries.
Bows that shoot ball bearings. Slingshots that shoot darts..it’s all out there.
Your instructions for shooting a traditional slingshot are kind of a revelation for me. I have a vintage aluminum slingshot somewhere and should dig it out and try it as you describe.
Also, once again I am blown away by your skill with wood. You are an artist, Sir!
I bought a slingshot with an arm support and some Daisy beads but can’t hit the side of a barn standing inside the barn. I am glad I don’t have to register my slingshot with the arm support with the BATF like with a AR pistol. I hope this blog gives me instructions on how to shoot accurately.
I’ve been deep into slingshots since 2010! Hence the name!
Your first flat band slingshot! Nice! I’m expecting my first PCP! A Barra 1100z from Pyramid air. As I wait on its arrival I recalled you mentioning making a book for your airgun. Could you share some thoughts on what layout and content would be like in such a book?
Welcome to the blog.
I mentioned a book? I have two under my belt — the Beeman R1 Book and BB Guns Remembered. Did I mention those? I could be writing a second book like BB Guns Remembered.
Sorry BB. I believe you were taking about recording things like settings, performance and such for each gun.
“BB Guns Remembered” is a good read; it helped FM’s “Rememberer” remember when he first dipped his toe – or trigger finger – into the world of airguns. 🙂
I knew BB Guns Remembered was right for you. Your own first BB gun story sounded like one of them in the book. As I recall your mama didn’t allow…
I feel like it’s a special privilege to be able to get your ear and responses. Thank you Sir!
Sorry for being late to comment – too much work although I am ‘retired’. I also some experience from my childhood with sling shots made with wood forks and using inner tube materials. Instinctively, I was using the clamp hold back then. I was not particularly good with them. However, my skill level took a nose dive when I transitioned to one using surgical tubing. Then I abandoned them, but your article awoke my interest in these catapults.
I look forward to the next blog on this subject, being particularly interested in the use, tying, etc. of the flat bands.
Sorry; I’ve been away doing crazy work for the past few days, so I’m “late to the party.”
But I’m glad to see you got yourself a “Hank Special,” and equally pleased that you chose Buckthorn for the material. Mine (also Buckthorn, also from Hank) is below. 😉
Blessings to you,
I didn’t choose the wood, Hank did. But I’m glad that he did.
Monday I report on shooting it for the first time.
Cool; I’m looking forward to it. 😉