This article is a primer about the use of the modern slingshot as a weapon for hunting small game.
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The modern slingshot has been around for nearly two centuries since the invention of vulcanized rubber by Charles Goodyear in 1838. It wasn’t until just after the second world war that they were seen as weapons and not just toys for little boys.
- How effective is a slingshot?
- Types of slingshots.
- Understanding a slingshot set up.
- Slingshot ammo.
- Advantages of hunting with a slingshot.
- Practice Tips.
- Hunting tips
How effective is a slingshot?
When talking about the effectiveness of a slingshot there are really 2 points to make. One, a correctly calibrated slingshot set up with the right ammo can kill a human if the shot is properly placed so, small game is no problem.
That being said, the second point is the one that really matters. Accuracy is what will have the most effect on effectiveness.
You can have the most expensive slingshot with all the latest technologies, but if you can’t hit a target the size of a golf ball your not going to be very effective with a slingshot.
Animals are killed by tissue damage. The goal is to deliver the most tissue damage to the most vulnerable area on the animal for immediate death.
Delivering a shot that only injures an animal and allows it to suffer until you can get to it and put it out of its misery, or worse allowing it to evade and die slowly somewhere is unacceptable as an ethical hunter.
Since a slingshot is a low power weapon placement of the shot to the most vulnerable place on the animal is critical. Therefore accuracy is paramount.
Types of Slingshots
Types of slingshots vary widely from simple inexpensive steel tube frame slingshots to modern composite materials with advanced technologies like extendable forks, line sites, laser sights, arrow knocks, anti-vibration bars and who knows what all else.
They can have tubular bands flat bands and multiple bands. It’s my opinion and the opinion of most slingshot experts that the simpler the better.
As a beginner, it’s best to start with a simple design and learn the fundamentals of good slingshot marksmanship. At some point, you may want to experiment with different designs, but I recommend starting with a simple, durable design with flat bands because making quick consistent improvement with accuracy is easier with flat bands.
And keep in mind, many tournaments have been won and much game has been taken with very simple slingshots.
A really good beginner slingshot is Ocularis.
The Ocularis is made of a durable, lightweight composite and has quick-change hardware for the bands. The bands can be adjusted for over the fork shooting or through the fork shooting. The design is very basic and conducive to learning accuracy fundamentals.
The handle is also designed for a paracord wrap which is perfect for a go-bag or bug-out-bag.
If you’re a handy kind of person you can make your slingshot and purchase the bands by themselves. There are many Slingshot forums with printable patterns for different designs and plenty of YouTube videos about making your own slingshot.
A handmade slingshot can be an excellent weapon because it can be made to fit your hands and grip.
Understanding the slingshot set up
The slingshot setup is made up of three basic components. These components combine to deliver a specific amount of energy on impact. Energy is calculated with mass and velocity. Each setup will have its own set of advantages and disadvantages
The material used to make the bands and the style of the band(flat or tubular)
There are different types of rubber slingshot bands are made from. Some rubber is more durable but less elastic and some rubber is more elastic and less durable.
Therabond Gold is the industry standard for custom made bands. Click the picture below to check prices on Amazon.
Elasticity is good because it adds velocity, but the more elastic the band is the sooner it will have to be replaced.
The length and cut of the bands
Longer bands add velocity, but a draw length that extends past a good anchor point at the cheek or ear is harder to control thus lowers accuracy.
Click here to for a band length calculator. Free from www.slingshotchannel.com http://www.slingshotchannel.com/band_calc.html
A tapered cut combined with a butterfly draw achieves the highest energy on impact but requires the most skill to be accurate.
Size and material of the ammunition
The size and material of the ammo determine it’s mass. The higher the mass of the projectile the more energy on impact until mass reaches a size where velocity is too low.
Most experts recommend steel ball ammo for beginners. Click the image below for a great deal on slingshot ammo.
There are other considerations to the setup. Your range will have an effect on your set up. As a beginner, your range will be shorter until your accuracy improves at longer distances.
Ammo for slingshots can be anything that fits in the pouch. Stones, lug nuts, nuts or anything with sufficient weight can work, but today steel balls, lead balls, and glass marbles are most popular. A smooth round object provides less drag and more predictable aerodynamics.
The advantages of steel balls are that they can be retrieved easily with a magnet, they are less intrusive on the environment than lead and cheaper than lead.
The advantages of lead balls are that they pack more mass into a smaller package and they can slightly flatten on impact and create more tissue damage. With the right equipment, you can cast your own ammo.
Glass balls are cheap and that’s about it.
Here are some great info charts about ammo weight and energy https://www.slingshotcommunity.com/threads/ammo-weight-and-energy-charts.815/
Advantages of hunting with a slingshot
Let’s start by saying slingshots are not the ideal choice for hunting. Riffles and bows are a far superior weapon for hunting. However, there are legitimate reasons for using a slingshot, especially in a survival situation.
- Slingshots are compact and lightweight. They can be carried in backpacks, glove boxes, back pockets or just about any pocket for that matter.
- Legal to carry in nearly all jurisdictions without any license.
- Slingshots have very few parts. This makes maintenance and repair much easier than say a rifle or bow.
- Hunting with a slingshot is one of the stealthiest ways to hunt.
- Slingshots will attract much less attention than a rifle or bow.
- A commercially retailed, high-quality slingshot will cost significantly less than any other weapon.
- Ammunition can literally be found lying on the ground.
Becoming proficient with a slingshot doesn’t require any special talents, skills, strength. You don’t have to be physically fit or have Einstein level intellect. What it does require without exception is consistent practice.
If you practice regularly you will improve, period.
There are a handful of basic techniques for beginning shooters out there. Here is a great video by Zach Fowler for the beginner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuUrRvIvGYs&t=88s
Zach’s video shows in very simple detail on how to immediately start getting more accurate results.
Take time regularly to practice. repetition is the key.
You can start practicing with a soda can on a fence post, but setting up a target with a backstop means you’re not going to waste ammo.
A simple backstop can be made by hanging a tarp between 2 trees just behind your target so when you shoot the ammo at the target it will hit the tarp and fall to the ground. Now you can just collect all the fallen ammo and reuse it over and over.
Practice with the ammo you will hunt with. Different types of ammo will have different trajectories and will require adjustments. these differences will be slight but they do exist.
Here is a great video about building a very simple but very effective slingshot catch box. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwvJq_D0mBw
Hunting with a slingshot causes blunt force tissue damage not piercing trauma. Because of this, the only reliable shot is a headshot. Shooting small game like a rabbit or squirrel in the body, the most likely outcome is that the prey gets away and suffers an inhumane death caused be internal tissue damage.
For this reason, headshots are the only ethical way to hunt with a slingshot.
This means if you can’t consistently hit a target the size of a golf ball at a certain distance then you shouldn’t take the shot.
Now that that’s out of the way here are some hunting tips for hunting small game with a slingshot.
Once you’ve become proficient with your slingshot the name of the game becomes the art of stalking. It’s one thing to be able to hit a quarter at 20 feet nine out of ten times, but it’s a whole other thing getting 20 feet from a wild animal that will sit still long enough for you to take a shot at it.
Here are a few tips.
- Remove all noisy items from your pockets like keys and loose change. Gear such as knives, binoculars, compass, etc. shouldn’t be left dangling from the belt or a pack. Keep them stored snuggly somewhere so they won’t make noise when your walking.
- Don’t hunt with any strong sends on your body like cologne or deodorant.
- If possible, stay downwind from where you think your prey will be.
- walk slowly and methodically stopping every few feet to look and listen.
- Become familiar with the tracks of your prey
- Learn how to spot a game trail. Most animals can have very predictable routines.
- Always try to avoid stepping on twigs that can alert prey to your presence.
- learn the habitats your specific prey prefers.
All else aside, Shooting slingshots can be fun and rewarding. It is one of the least expensive hobbies or means for hunting food out there.
Give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.