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DIY Shooting a Hank slingshot: Part 4

Shooting a Hank slingshot: Part 4

slingshot Hank
Slingshot reader Vana2 made for me of buckthorn wood.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • I waited
  • Target at eye level
  • First shot
  • Safety
  • Stepped back
  • Releasing the ball
  • 15 feet
  • Final result
  • Summary

Today I will shoot my slingshot made by Hank for the second time and show you some improvement. 

I waited

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.

slingshot target setup
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.

First shot

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.

slingshot target early
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.

Safety

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.

slingshot clay balls
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.

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Stepped back

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. 

slingshot 12 feet
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. 

slingshot shot off
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.

slingshot pouch
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.

15 feet

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.

slingshot target final
The target at the end of the session.

Final result

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.

Summary

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!”

58 thoughts on “Shooting a Hank slingshot: Part 4”

  1. B.B.,
    I’m glad to see you’re learning, teaching, and having fun.
    Hank also gave me a choice of wood, and I, like you, chose Buckthorn.
    It’s really cool wood; you’ve got a classic slingshot there. 😉
    Blessings to you,
    dave

  2. I can see, I think, bending from the waist to shoot lower, but I can’t see bending from the waist to shoot higher, at least holding a rifle in the typical offhand position. Perhaps Denny would be kind enough to get pictures while you demonstrate?

    • MisterAP,

      Look at the seconf picture of me ijn Part 2. That’s me bending at the waist. I didn’t know to do it. It just came naturally.

      BB

  3. I really enjoy these slingshot blog entries. Am I the only one who got thinking of Whoppers Malted Milk Balls while looking at the clay balls photo? Well thank you very much for getting me hungry! ;^)

  4. Insomnia stinks. Can’t sleep so thought I would check in early for today’s blog. I too enjoy slinging a bit. I picked up a nice but cheap sling online last summer and have enjoyed it enough that I got my son in law one for Christmas. It also helped keep me on the NAGA Wagon, (New Air Gun Abstinence). No sooner had I reached 6 months though and I fell off that wagon flat onto my face with a bill for a Beeman R9 .22 refurb from PA.

    I can only hope it is a good one as my previous PA refurb experiences were not great but did get resolved… eventually. I did remember to order the 10 for 10 on it, but with a refurb that has ‘supposed to have been’ thoroughly tested already before being offered again for sale, I don’t feel like I should have had to do so.

    I have wanted one since before the Texas show last year but kept the lock clamped on my wallet. If it is anywhere near as good as my HW30s, and I thoroughly expect that it will be, I am sure that I won’t regret the lapse.

    Bob

    • Bob,

      I doubt very seriously you will regret the lapse.

      I start having the urge for a “new” airgun around October. That is when the NC Airgun Show is. I really should get a table and see if anybody would like to take some of these “old gals” home with them. My biggest problem is letting any of them go.

      • I do have a few old girls that I have took around back behind in the woods a few times and am ready to move on from now. My hardest part is not so much letting them go as finding a good outlet to find them a new good home. 9I8 645-76O6 if you are looking for anything for your retirement home. 🙂

          • RR, the corniest joke I know:

            A piece of string goes into a bar, The bartender says, “Sorry. We don’t serve pieces of string here.” The string goes outside and scrapes himself across th brick on the outside of the building. He goes in the bar again and again the bartender says, “We don’t serve pieces of string here.” The string responds, “Piece of string? I’m a frayed knot.”

            Sorry.

  5. Before I offer my thoughts, I do not speak from experience, nor do I even possess any kind of slingshot (besides the ‘Classroom Catapult’, ie hand and rubber bands), yet! 🙂

    I recommend the english language website, slingshot-shooting.de ( http://www.slingshot-shooting.de/index.html ) because I find it interesting. Thanks Mel83, Melchior Menzel, whose website it is, for sharing. 🙂

    Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)’s backstop, the red blanket on a fence, could be improved, if it were suspended freely and further in front of the fence, for example from a washing line. It would last longer by slowing the projectile down more gradually.

    For the same reason, ie to allow the loose backstop to swing with the projectile, it would make sense to place the actual target in front of it, without touching.

    Yeah, from my armchair, I’m suggesting more preparation work, more material, more time, etc… but I imagine it worth while. 🙂

    Of course, with hindsight, none of this made a difference, because Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier) did not miss the target box (this time). 🙂

    I wonder whether the camera and (!) Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier) were right?
    His left arm was indeed higher whilst aiming and then he lowered it as part of the act of letting the pouch loose/ shooting.
    Apparently some people even flick their slingshot forward at that same instant. 🙂

    • hi3,

      Believe me — all those thoughts are running through my mind right now. Not the clothesline so much but the hold and movments after release.

      BB

      • B.B.,

        Enjoyed your baby steps to your “new” projectile launching endeavor. Although you got a photograph (picture is worth a thousand words.) if you or Denny had used a smartphone or tablet with video capability it would most likely have answered at least some more of, “all those thoughts (that) are running through my mind right now.”
        Regardless of when exactly you lowered your left arm it was very likely a follow through fault just as it would be shooting a gun in the standing or kneeling position.
        But like in anything we try to learn to do well your confidence is growing and it is 90 percent of the road to success.
        You got this Tom!

        shootski

      • “The center of the bull was about 18-inches below my eye.” – And spoken like someone who thinks he knows what he is doing, therein, my friend lies your problem. 18 inches doesn’t sound like much but the angle to drop down that far is more than enough to throw us off unless we are RELIGIOUSLY bending from the waist to get our LOS parallel/horizontal to the target. That is really hard for us to do as beginners.

        Raise that target up the 18 inches and I bet you have a totally different follow through picture and result.

        Bob

  6. BB,

    When asked to help people improve their (rifle) shooting I use a bow or a slingshot to teach the importance of the basics because everything happens slower and closer and the effects – positive or negative – are very apparent. Ten to twelve feet is a good distance to practice at.

    Suggestion for shooting instinctively: AIM SMALL!

    For a target, suspend a one inch diameter wad of masking tape infront of your backstop and shoot at that. Large targets work against you and the pellet holes on those “shoot and see” are too distracting.

    For the amount of sling-shooting you’ve done you are progressing well!

    Hank

    • Shootski,

      Happy Pi day as well, last Wednesday was 308 which is also a cool day as that is a nice cartridge, long range and good accuracy. I like numbers, so also on Wednesday you posted comment 500000 to the blog I thought that was kinda cool half a million comments to the blog right over here /blog/2023/03/bug-a-salt-3-0-black-fly-edition-part-2/#comment-500000

      Well I guess it is not really the 500,000th comment as they probably did not start at 0 but still I think it is cool.

      Mike

      • Mike in Atl,

        Another major milestone in my life…
        IF I had only known at the time! Lol!

        I agree! .308 is a far better round than most realize these days! But you can’t charge more for it like you can with the NAMED .30 caliber ammo!

        shootski

  7. Despite shooting for most of my life I’ve never shot a catapult/slingshot. I think I’d like to have a go at making one but I’m unsure of how to fix the elastic at the forks and the pouch. Any tips?

    • Ade C,

      Look at the pic above that shows how to hold the ball in the pouch. You can see that the elastic bands are doubled over and tied with string. Same for the forks.

      BB

    • Ade C,

      The bands are typically tied to the pouch with soft cotton twine (aka “butchers cord”) using a “constrictor” knot.

      I attach the bands to the frame with a piece of elastic with a wrap and tuck. The loop of the band is secured by wrapping with the elastic (under tension), then the tag end of the elastic is pulled under the last couple of wraps with a loop of string to tuck it in. This procedure requires two hands plus someone or some way to hold the slingshot.

      Hope this helps.

      Hank

  8. Hey BB,

    regarding the photo that you thought Denny had taken a split second too late, I don’t think he did. I’ve found out on the cheap and middle priced cameras that there is a shutter lag from the time you push the shutter to the time the charge-coupled device records it (ccd for short) and writes it on the memory card. I can’t speak to the $3-$4,000 DSLR’s but that’s what I found out on my $500 GX85 Lumix. My solution for action shots was to go to the 4K video mode and then capture the still I wanted.

    Really enjoying the blog on sling shots and yesterday hearing from Rocket Jane about what is probably causing the ping on PCP’s.

    Fred formerly etc, etc.

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