Slingshot reader Vana2 made for me of buckthorn wood.
This report covers:
- I waited
- Target at eye level
- First shot
- Stepped back
- Releasing the ball
- 15 feet
- Final result
Today I will shoot my slingshot made by Hank for the second time and show you some improvement.
This series is about learning and adapting, and I’m doing more of that with this slingshot than I ever did with an airgun or firearm. In Part 2 I shared my first session with you. I thought I was going to shoot out the center of the target and life would be hunky-dory, but instead I was humbled. I discovered there is a lot more to slingshot shooting than I even imagined, and this series took on a whole new outlook.
In Part 3 Hank shared with us the making of slingshots. He also shared things that I studied and paid attention to. The stance is one example. The grip is another. And Hank has communicated with me privately with other nuggets. I also followed his advice and watched several You Tube videos of great slingshot shooters.
Target at eye level
Hank said to set your target at eye level when you are learning to shoot. I didn’t do that in Part 2 and I learned just how important it is. Here is what he said.
I need to put a note in here as I see this happening all the time. I keep on mentioning an “eye level target” because that is how you should learn to shoot – parallel to the ground – before adding complexity. To shoot at a target higher or lower than your eye level requires that you bend at the waist. If you raise or lower your arms to shoot the new geometry changes everything – your hold, anchor, and draw length – so your point of aim and point of impact changes as the distance and angle to the target changes. This applies to shooting slingshots, bows, pistols and rifles as well – when hand-holding a weapon, bend and pivot at the waist.
So here is what I did. I set up a tall table upon which the target box rested. The center of the bull was about 18-inches below my eye. I clamped a blanket to my privacy fence to prevent the ball from passing through a space between the boards and entering my neighbor’s yard, should I miss the box.
This is my target setup. The center of the bull isn’t exactly level with my eye, but it’s close. You can see that I already started shooting at the target before this picture was taken.
Like in the Part 2 test I figured my first shot from 10 feet away would land in the center of the bull and just like before I was wrong. But unlike before I did hit the target box with every one of my 24 shots. That, by itself, was an improvement that I credit to raising the target.
The first three shots missed the target sheet but did hit the target box. I show them below.
Following those three shots I moved up to 5 feet from the target and shot several more times. Those balls did hit the target and from this point on I never missed the target again. After five shots from about 5 feet I backed up to 10 feet and shot 4 more times.
The first three shots missed the target but hit the target box (three blue arrows). Then from 5 feet I connected five more times and finally from 10 feet I hit another 4 times.
Before we continue I want to tell you about the safety measures I took. I didn’t shoot any steel balls today. Instead I shot the clay balls that I also bought. The are far less dense (they weigh about 12.5 to 13.5 grains, compared to the steel ball’s 31.9 to 32.2 grains) so they carry less energy. That makes them safer and also less likely to penetrate the blanket I used to screen the wooden fence.
The 8mm clay balls are lighter than the steel balls, and a lot cheaper. The additional safety they bring is a bonus.
I wore shatterproof eyeglasses while I shot, to protect my eyes from a bounceback. I didn’t have one this day but I did have one on the first day I shot for Part 2.
At this point I stepped back two more feet. That’s right — to 12 feet. I know it sounds like I was concerned, but that’s only because I was! I asked my neighbor Denny to photograph me at that point.
After I knew I could hit the box from 10 feet I stepped back to 12 feet.
Denny stepped off the distance to the box and I had to move closer to the target by about two feet to be 12 feet away. I was getting cocky! Ha, ha. But now most of my shots were hitting inside the 6-inch ring of the target. That’s a lot better than the first time I shot it.
I asked Denny to take a picture of me lined up on the target and ready to shoot. He pressed the shutter button an instant after I shot, but the picture shows something interesting.
The instant I released the shot.
I’m holding the slingshot too low. It didn’t look that way to me, but that picture above shows it perfectly! That picture was taken an instant after I released the shot, which you can tell by the placement of my right hand and by the position of the elastic bands that were caught in flight. I would have argued vehemently that I didn’t do any of this, but the picture doesn’t lie.
Releasing the ball
I learned on You Tube the best way to hold the ball. You don’t pinch the leather pouch shut in front of the ball; you pinch the sides of the ball between your thumb and the big knuckle of your index finger. The idea is to release smoothly without moving the hand, but I suspect I have a lot of practicing to do.
This picture looks like I’m holding the ball wrong, but what was needed was to move the camera around to the right. I really do have the ball pinched against the middle knuckle of my right hand. On the other hand, the pouch is offset, and that is wrong.
For the final few shots I backed up again and shot from what I guesstimated was 15 feet. Now that I had the hold and knew where the ball would go I knew I could hit the target every time — and I did! Let’s now look at the final result and see what can be learned.
The target at the end of the session.
The final condition of the target tells us some things. First it tells us that my shots want to go to the left of center. I believe changing my stance (where my feet are placed) will correct this.
Next, I see that most of my shots are going low. I already addressed this when we discussed the hold (holding the slingshot too low) but this is something I need to work on.
Finally I would like to connect with the target on the first shot next time. It doesn’t have to be in the center of the bull, and probably won’t be, but I’d like it to hit somewhere inside the outer circle on the target.
Hank told us that shooting slingshots improved his shooting experience in general, and I can see what he means. Right now I feel like the guy who asked the doctor whether he would be able to play the piano after his carpel tunnel surgery, and when told he would said, “That’s great, because I couldn’t before!”