Slingshot reader Vana2 made for me of buckthorn wood.
This report covers:
- How hard
- The shot
- I got better
- Notes to myself
Today I begin to shoot the slingshot that reader Hank made for me. I figured this would be a short little report because how hard could it be? I am, after all, BB Pelletier. I figured I would start out at 10 feet and within a few minutes I’d be shooting the center out of the smallest target I could find at probably 50 feet, if not farther.
I wrote in Part 1 that I ordered two types of ammo — some 8mm steel balls Hank recommended and some 8mm (roughly) clay balls that I found on eBay. Both arrived before I shot the slingshot for the first time last Thursday. But I thought I should just stick with one type of ammo, just to keep my groups under one inch at all distances.
There were roughly 1500 8mm steel balls when I started.
The steel balls came in a sealed plastic bag inside a small cardboard box. Fifteen hundred balls weigh about 9 pounds which is important to my story because I carried them into my tile-floored kitchen prior to taking them outside to the back yard. I carried the box with one thumb inside the box and the rest of my hand pinching the outside of the lip of the box. That’s also important to know because the tensile strength of the cardboard box was about 8 pounds. So, just as I crossed the threshold of my kitchen, the box ripped out of my hand dropping the sealed plastic bag of steel balls onto the tile floor where it became unsealed, spilling about 1,000 steel balls in all directions. Had it dropped just a few feet before, the bag would have hit my padded living room carpet and perhaps not opened at all, but if it had opened the steel balls wouldn’t have rolled too far. But, steel balls on a tile floor? Disaster!
I spent the next 20 minutes going around the kitchen floor with a powerful magnet on a 3-foot string. Why do I have a powerful magnet on a 3 foot string? I’m an airgunner. As the father in the movie A Christmas Story told little Ralphie Parker who was loading his Christmas present Daisy Red Ryder, “Be careful. They go everywhere.” They do, indeed! I was still picking up balls a day later.
I went to a local sporting goods store to buy Shoot-N-C targets. I bought a pack of 12-inchers that I figured might be good when I backed up to 50 feet. A pack of 8-inchers were for closer encounters and a pack of 6-inchers for the 10 meter shots. After all, how hard can it be?
For a target trap I selected a 10×15-inch cardboard box that I filled with rubber mulch. As you will see, the 12-inch Shoot-N-C target didn’t completely fit on the face of the box.
The 12-inch Shoot-N-C target was wider than the backer box. Oh, well, how hard could it be?
Based on what I watched on You Tube I saw that I had always held a slingshot incorrectly. Or at least that is what the experts said. And they all agreed. Hank said the same thing. So in an uncharacteristic move, I listened. No problemo.
I moved up to 10 feet from the box for my first shot. Naturally I was going to put the ball in the center of the target, but in the infinitesimal possibility that I missed the whole box, having the box sitting down on the ground gave me the entire lawn to stop the ball. But surely I wasn’t going to miss. How hard could it be?
I shot. Nothing.
I missed the entire box! Not once. Not twice but four straight times. From 10 feet. Then I grabbed the slingshot the way I always held them and put a ball into the target. Yeah, I can hit the target that way, but my old way isn’t the way to be accurate. Now I knew how hard it can be.
When I held the slingshot the old way (like a hammer) I at least hit the target, but not where I wanted.
What was I doing wrong? Well it’s pretty hard to watch yourself when you are the one doing the thing you want to watch, so I called my neighbor, Denny, over to watch and take pictures. He took 10 minutes to get there, so I shot some more — using the recommended grip. And it began to dawn on me — I was shooting way low. So I raised the right fork leg of the slingshot until I was afraid of shooting over the fence. When I did that I hit the box for the first time. While holding the slingshot correctly I connected low on the box.
Now that I see this picture in the comfort of my office I see that I am holding the right leg of the slingshot low. I didn’t see that when I was shooting. I was “aiming” by sighting over the top band, which is how the experts say to do it. I think I need to revisit this next time.
I got better
After this experience I got better quickly. I backed up to 15 feet and shot a lot, now that I knew where to hold the slingshot. I also found that I was shooting instinctively, rather than sighting along a specific plane.
Once I got my bearings I started hitting the target where I wanted, or close to it.
I’m not proud of my target except for one thing. At the bottom of the target there is a small “group” where at least a dozen steel balls passed through. The aim I was taking felt weird, but I did it so consistently that I put a dozen balls out of 23 into the same place.
You’re looking at 23 shots on the target, with at least 12 in the small group indicated by the arrow and two more on the left just above the arrow.
Denny tried his hand at it, too and had nearly the identical experience as I did. He started out missing the box from close up and ended by hitting the target.
Notes to myself
This report is a series of notes to myself about how to shoot a slingshot. I have to remember to not sight the way the experts recommend (or at least how I thought they recommended), but to modify my hold until I can repeat the hits. Instinct shooting seems better than sighting. In the end though I think it is a combination of sighting and instinct shooting that will win the day.
Next time I want to back up a little and also to try the clay balls I also have.
There is more to shooting a slingshot than I imagined. And the accuracy that’s possible is greater than I imagined. I think this is going to be a fun series.
38 thoughts on “Shooting a Hank slingshot: Part Two”
Yes, it was scheduled to publish and WordPress sent it back to draft.
I have a small collection of slingshots. A couple years bavk, I noticed the line of pod octopus trees on my neighbors property line, had greenish/blueish “berries” or seeds. I picked a bunch and tried shooting them with my Trumark S9. This thing is made of thin round stock steel frame, with a plastic sliding grip that also holds ammo. Of course that handle broke. I actually like it better without the handle. Using the “gangsta” hold as in BB’s photo, I found I could hit with the darn thing and the for mentioned berries. I got so I could, on a good, hit a one gallon plastic white Clorox bleach bottle most of the time at 8-10 yards. Poor shooting, of course, compared to top shooters who routinely snuff out candles at that distance. But, I was pretty happy. The Trumark uses rubber tubing. I do have another one I have barely tried yet that uses flat bands, so I can’t comment on that one, but it looks promising. Here is a Trumark with the plastic handle/ammo holder. As I said, I like it much better without it.
ROTFWL! You may understand now why I recommended hanging up a blanket or sheet to act as your backstop/shot catcher. You may be able to recover those balls in the ground with your magnet, but maybe not. LOL!
I used to use marbles all the time. These would have been great!
You might give these a serious thought. They are a little bigger, but easier to find and less energetic when they hit.
You might also want to give these a try later.
I am interested in seeing how those clay balls do.
Laugh all you want. This was an eye-opening experience.
I bet it was. It is very similar to shooting a bow without sights or a ten-meter air pistol for that matter. One must learn consistency. You are well on your way. 😉
But don’t shoot your eye out, kid.
I sure hope that you retrieved all the little Ball Bearings? I see a banana peel slip in your future. lol
Sure hope not!
Caption of the sixth picture: Once I got my “bearings”… An intentional pun, I assume.
Now that you have pointed it out I will say yes. 😉
I purchased a slingshot and ammo last year and have not been able to hit the broad side of a barn, even when I was standing inside the barn. I hope this series helps me learn how to use it more accurately. Mine has an arm brace but fortunately I don’t have to register it with the BATF.
You are fighting many things. Those surgical rubber tubes are the worst. Flat Theraband Gold is what you want.
Remove those horrible bands and replace with Tapered bands made from Theraband..
…get a Slingshot with a wide fork that puts the fork tip close to the target (you hold the Slingshot sideways)
Two things helped my slingshot accuracy tremendously:
1. draw to your jaw like you are shooting a bow. You will naturally develop an aim if you hold and release from the same place. You may need a softer or longer band if you have long arms.
2. You need to want to hit what you are aiming at. Let me explain.
My son has a good friend who lives on some acreage. This friend likes to invite his buddies over (they are elementary and middle school aged) to play paintball, and he has a number of guns, masks, all the gear.
One trip over to visit, the boys were lamenting that the CO2 tanks were empty on the guns. But, while digging around in the garage we did discover 4 or 5 slingshots.
Wouldn’t you know it, a slingshot will get a paintball up to speed enough to break on impact.
We haven’t used the paintball guns since.
It levels the playing field in a number of ways. The dads have a small edge in velocity and accuracy. But the dads are a big slow target. We can still go through 5000 paintballs in a couple of hours.
Now, to point #2- I have learned so many tips and tricks to improve my accuracy, from BB and you all here. I’ve been following the blog for 9 years and I have read most of the posts 2 or 3 times.
But I have to say, the biggest development in my shooting came when that 1st paintball cracked my son in his caboose at 40 yards from a slingshot. “Yow! DAD!! Run!!!
Time slows, everything comes into focus, you just stop aiming and decide to hit your target.
Love your children. Be the ball.
What an eye opener this installment is! I’ve been holding the slingshot wrong all my life, (too). A teacher shouldn’t tell how perform the lesson wrong, but were you holding the slingshot vertically, so the forks pointed straight up? That’s how I’ve been holding it any time I shot one. And I pull it back so my hand that holds the pouch touches my face, just below the cheekbone and sight through the middle.
I have been snapped in the face more than once by a band that broke, but it was never too bad, just startling and a bit scary to think about afterwards.
I like the rubber bands on your slingshot, BB. They seem to be easier to stretch than surgical tubing, and give a smoother release. But that’s just me thinking. Do you think that’s true? How does Hank’s slingshot feel in use?
Yes, with the tops of the forks pointed straight up. That’s the way I shot the slingshot to hit the box and it’s the way I’m calling wrong.
How does it feel to hold it correctly? It feels weird, like it’s all wrong.
There is more to the hold that I didn’t get to today.
So..over a decade ago I made a little video on how to shoot a slingshot
I see that I did somethings right and other things need to be corrected.
I am learning.
I shoot my really cool “Hank Special” using a hold very similar to the one you are using in the “I got better” section, but I choke up a bit higher on it. Hank taught me that the old vertical hold I used as a kid was “not the way.” 🙂
I still can’t shoot as well as Hank (mostly for lack of practice), but the slingshot is a fun shooter; and any cat food can within 15 feet is in danger. 😉
Enjoy your beautiful slingshot!
Blessings to you,
I had to smile as I read today’s blog. Your expectations and experiences are typical for most people and you actually did very well without someone to coach you. Most guys can’t get any sort of grouping when they’re starting out.
I used slingshots (and bows) as training aids. When asked to show someone how to shoot a rifle they are surprised that the first session starts with with a slingshot.
I’ll explain and demonstrate how to shoot one but can see that they are humoring me.
They shoot to show me that slingshots are ridiculous and that we should get right to the rifles. Yeah, hitting the box is not as easy as it as one would think. 😉
The first 25 shots let’s me observe the stance, draw and release; how consistent they are and what needs the most attention. It also changes the “this is going to be easy” to a “this is really challenging” perspective, at which point the instruction can begin.
Most guys take to slingshots well and become proficient quickly once they learn to be consistent in stance, draw and release. At that point, the airguns come out and the familiar routine (start CLOSE and add distance as skill increases) is followed.
It’s important that the slingshot (or rifle) fits comfortably. The guys have a bunch to choose from and can usually find one can shoot well. Sometimes you have to try different styles and sizes to find one that works for you. You can get a collection quickly, my friend has at least a dozen frames that he doesn’t use. Besides that I like wood working, there’s a practical reason I make my own slingshots 🙂
The “forks up” with the hammer grip works OK and is fine for shooting rocks. It has the advantage that you can easily see if the bands are evenly aligned. The disadvantage is that, ergonomically, it puts a lot of stress on the wrist causing instability and limiting the strength of the bands that can be shot consistently.
You’re doing great, I would suggest that you place your targets at nose height so you can practice shooting horizontally. Shooting at near by ground level targets can be problematic for new shooters because they don’t bend enough at the waist. Each change in distance causes them to use a different arm position which affects draw length/power and changes the sight picture.
Being a wood worker himself, I’m curious what Denny thinks of the grain in Buckthorn.
Glad you’re having fun with the slingshot BB!
“Each change in distance causes them to use a different arm position which affects draw length/power and changes the sight picture.”
Just like in the bow and rifle/pistol (just No draw change but significant changes in hold pressure(s) and cheek weld…) when shooting without artificial rest(s)…dang! WHO would have thunk it Hank!
Just like in skiing bend the knees and initiate turns from the waist (ENGAGE! the Core) Number One! Lol!
If it it were not for my completely lack of skill with a slingshot I would have never become an air gunner. Back in the late 70’s I failed miserably with a Pocket Rocket to protect my parents peach trees from squirrels. I then stepped up to a Benjamin Sheridan Blue Streak and thus began my lifetime obsession with airgunning.
Nothing wrong with lifetime obsession with airgunning – been there, done that!
I’m sure that the problems you had with “slingshots” were because of the Wrist Rocket. Back then one of my friends was gifted one and nobody in our group could shoot it well. It was great for blasting holes in tin cans at close range but was too powerful for any us to shoot accurately.
Used to be the the Wrist Rocket/surgical band style was the only option. Lots of slingshots models available these days and plenty of detailed videos on how to use them.
Don’t think it was lack of skill, maybe it was the right slingshot and bit of instruction you needed.
Would love to see full body photography of your stance as well as a few of your pouch hold hand from various angles (3 axis) when at normal draw.
Are you locking your knees or are you using a slight bent knee stance?
The Slingshot; SO SIMPLE any kid can do it!
This is going to be another fantastic B.B. Learns series….
Hopefully most of us will learn along with you.
Don’t stop the series until you can do the trick shots!
I cropped the body shots because I had to bend over so Denny could get the picture. I was more interested in my hands, the target and the slingshot than anything else.
There will hopefully be any number of parts to cover most all the elements of your “new” adventure.
So many thanks for covering slingshots in the blog!
8mm clay balls are really small. In the US, the clay balls sold by Saunders Archery as “Clod Poppers” are a good choice, they have 11mm diameter and that’s a huge difference with lightweight clay.
Back in the day when I competed, a Slingshooter who hit a 10cm (4″) target at 10m distance 6out of 10 times was regarded as an ok Slingshooter. Today, if you want to win a competition, you better hit 9.5 out of 10 times.
I am really enjoying the ride, watching you learn – while learning myself at the same time.
If other are interested, could you consider a guest blog on slingshot making? Subjects could include bands, pouch, fork dimensions, other species of wood or other materials, stand, distance effects, etc.
If there is enough interest I could do a guest blog on making slingshots.
It’s up to BB.
BB says yes, please.
Cool! That’s something to which we can all look forward; thank you. 😉
Hey BB and everyone,
A proper Slingshot backstop has a freely swinging piece of fabric (such as an old t-shirt) inside. With some space to swing back.
Just take two pieces of 1″X2″ wood, put one or two old t-shirts inside, and clamp together with C Clamps.
Then hang into a box.
This was taught to me by “Tex Shooter” Bill Herriman, a mighty fine guy who did a lot for the Slingshooting hobby.
Mel, there’s lots of good info in that link; thank you. 🙂
Here is an idea for slingshot ammunition; click on the “Images” box for a detail view.
Slingshot enthusiasts call the spot on your face that you pull the pouch to each time, the anchor point. Feet position, body position, the exactly same distance of both forks from the pouch, using a spot on the slingshot for sighting alignment, it’s all part of the process. Also, one can tie a set of flat bands onto many slingshot that are designed for the rubber tubes.
I am showing my age here. As a child of the fifty’s, my first sling shot was a WAMO. One of my friend’s family had a large rural property. His father would load six of us in a station wagon and drive us there. He gave us each a large bag of marbles and told us not to come back with out squirrels. Now, this property was covered with large oak and pine forest. No one hunted the property so it was thick with fox and grey squirrel. We would pair off in two’s and find a place to blind up. I don’t think we, as a group, would ever finish a hunt with out 10 or 12 squirrels. We did this nearly every Saturday from October until Thanksgiving. We did this for a couple of years before moving on to pump pellet rifles. After each hunt, we would stop at country store and give the gift of the hunt to the store owner who would give them to those in need. For the ride home we each had a Royal Crown Cola and a bag of boiled peanuts An’t life grand. That’s how I learned to hunt.
Oh man, this has totally gotten me re-interested in sling shots! What I am really curious of at this point is where you can buy ones like the one you are using in this blog! Or instructions on how to make one. I am wondering if part of my problem being accurate has been that I need to use a better designed sling shot.
I suggest spending some time on You Tube.