One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is “What is the best slingshot?”, to which I generally answer, “The one you shoot the best”. However, that leaves a world of options available to you and likely does not answer the original question. Slingshots are profoundly simple, yet are capable of astounding power, accuracy, and precision… and that is where the technical questions arise. So let’s start with the slingshot itself- fundamentally the least important piece of slingshot equation (more on slingshot elastics in later posts).
Wrist braced or not?
Wrist brace slingshots became popular with the advent of surgical tubing. The slingshot bands were easy to mass produce, the wire frames were inexpensive to manufacture, and the strength of the surgical tubing required some degree of wrist support in order to be handled and shot comfortably. Right or wrong, the ‘wrist rocket’ came to represent what most folks regard as a slingshot today. They shoot relatively hard and fast, but are bulky and generally quite heavy draw weight. You can’t really put one in your back pocket and when the tubes fail, it usually means a slap in the face…no fun and can really wreck one’s focus on the target and cause some worries from shot to shot. The Wrist Rocket was thought to be an advance from the simple tree fork ‘Y’, red rubber inner tube flat bands, and boot tongue pouch (which arguably fed more families than the wrist rocket ever will). They popped up in hardware, sporting goods stores, and drug stores across the nation and no red blooded American boy was without one at some point in his life. The wrist rocket quickly replaced the classic forked stick that Grandpa shot with uncanny skill… until today.
Through the advances of modern materials science, we are blessed with a plethora of fantastic hard shooting elastic polymers that may once again turn the simple tree fork into a weapon capable of amazing power… and in the right hands, accuracy that will often shame the best of hand gunners and riflemen. Within the power and performance of modern elastic, we are once again able to utilize the simple tree fork, or modern variants thereof to have a pocket-able weapon that will outperform the wrist rocket in every way. So, what are the attributes of a good pocket slingshot?
· Firstly, it should fit comfortably in your hand according to your preferred grip style. Slingshots can be held in three basic ways: hammer grip, fork supported, and pinch grip. To learn more, check out this link
· The slingshot should be made from materials that can endure ‘fork hits’(more on this later). Beware of wooden slingshots that are made from sawn lumber boards. If wood is your preference, make sure it is a laminated wood to ensure strength and durability- like Baltic Birch plywood or multi-laminate woods. Of course, the venerable tree fork is always a safe bet. Any tree that grows fruit or nuts is a good candidate with Dogwood and Hickory having a special place in the lore of slingshot craft. There are many great slingshots available on the market made from space age polymers, composites and plastics…but don’t forget, the slingshot frame is just what holds the bands and pouch- the real meat and potatoes of the slingshot’s power and performance.
· It should be capable of utilizing your preferred elastic or slingshot rubber. If you like to shoot flat bands, be certain that the fork tips will fit your preferred width and orientation. If you like to shoot tubular rubber slingshot bands, make sure the slingshot can accept your preferred method of attachment. There are many great slingshots that allow for multiple band attachment methods in one package.
· It should fit your needs! Sure, there are some slingshots on the market that are as elegant and fancy as a king’s sporting rifle, but they will not make you shoot any better. If fancy is your cup of tea, then you are in luck, as there is a growing body of custom slingshot makers out there who can satisfy your desire to have a true blingshot. If value and function reign supreme, make your own or try one of the few mass produced modern hand catapults available today.
· Practice! A slingshot can fit in your pocket, bug out bag, or backpack taking up little space. With a slingshot, you can hone your marksmanship just about anywhere without disturbing the peace and at a very, very low cost. The price of firearm ammo has become such that each trigger press sounds like a cash register rather than a bang. Slingshots can and will improve all of your marksmanship pursuits without breaking the bank!
So, put down that old wrist rocket and pick up something older and newer. The modern slingshot offers the marksman and outdoorsman a new venue of fun, function, and freedom…in one handheld package that is little more than a forked stick, rubber, and leather. Functional simplicity at its fines