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Since the stone age, humans have used spears, clubs, slingshots, and other primal tools to hunt game and defend themselves. While the advancements of modern technology have somewhat overshadowed traditional weaponry, tools such as slingshots have stood the test of time. They remain a favorite for hunters and survivalists alike. Knowing how to make a hunting slingshot can give you the upper hand in wilderness emergencies and may be the difference between survival and starvation.
What is a Slingshot?
A slingshot is a Y-shaped frame, typically made from a forked branch. It has two elastic bands connected to the top of the frame, holding a pouch or cradle used to insert ammunition. With ammunition in place, you pull the pouch back, with force from the release, slinging the ammo at your desired target.
When appropriately constructed and used for primal purposes, slingshots can be fatal. With heavy ammunition, strong and secure bands, and the perfect aim, a DIY slingshot can quickly kill small game targets. From squirrels to rabbits, or even birds, these weapons can cause severe or fatal injuries with just one strike.
If you are hunting and find yourself in an emergency where you need to construct a DIY weapon quickly, slingshots are one of the best options to choose. However, before you assemble your DIY deadly weapons, be sure to take note of state laws, as some areas forbid the use of slingshots.
Material Necessary for a DIY Slingshot
Once you’ve confirmed your state requirements and you’ve got the green light for this age-old weaponry, you can learn how to make a hunting slingshot and prepare for DIY survival.
When out in nature, the only materials you have are those in front of you. To construct a slingshot, you’ll need to find a branch that resembles a Y-shape. This is crucial, as it will form the frame of your weaponry. Ensure the branch is relatively thick, using the width of your thumb as a guideline. If you can find one that is thicker, even better.
Try to ensure the length of the branch is up to 8”, with a fork starting thoroughly halfway up the branch. The best wood type is maple, as it is a strong and durable hardwood.
The ultimate survivalist will always pack some strong elastic bands in their first aid kit for emergencies. Rubber bands will work for practice shots; however, they will not be strong enough in a hunting setting. You’ll need anything long and stretchy. Surgical tubing or bicycle tire tubing are excellent choices for DIY slingshot material.
A string will hold parts of the slingshot together, for example, connecting the elastic banding to the Y-shaped branch and the pouch to the banding. You only need a small length of string; however, it’s always good to be prepared and carry a longer spool.
For the ultimate slingshot pouch, leather is the best choice. It is durable and can support heavier ammunition types. However, you can also use thick cloth or robust and flexible plastic.
In a DIY situation, you can’t make the shot without ammo. If you’re out in the forest and have to scrounge, stones from the ground are the perfect ammunition type. When choosing stones, ensure you choose ones that are large and smooth. This is because these types will fly better due to their mass. If you are preparing before your hunt, steel balls or glass marbles will work the best.
How to Make a Hunting Slingshot: Step-by-step Guide
Step One: Prepare the Wood
The first thing you will need to do is source and prepare your Y-shaped branch. Head out into the forest and search for a branch that resembles a classic slingshot frame. Ideally, choose a branch from oak, maple, walnut, or cherry trees.
Try and ensure the branch has already fallen from the tree to avoid breaking off live branches. Once you’ve sourced a hardwood Y-shape branch that is at least 8” long, you will need to remove any moisture from the wood. Wet wood is not ideal for slingshots, as the frame will bend when pulled. This not only risks the frame warping but also reduces the force of the shot.
To dry out the wood, two common methods are most typically used, including:
Dry the Branch
Dry the branch next to a heat source; for example, a campfire will help dry it out quickly. Place it as close as possible without it catching fire, and allow it to dry.
Use a Microwave
This method is only possible if you make a slingshot in preparation for a hunt; however, it is the quickest way to dry the branch. All you have to do is wrap it in a towel and put it in the microwave on high heat for 30 seconds. Allow the branch to cool for one minute, and then repeat the process once more. The branch will begin to hiss, but when this subsides, it means the moisture has completely evaporated, and the wood is dry.
Step Two: Make the Branch into a Frame
Next, trim your branch so it’s the perfect length for a slingshot. From the center of the fork, ensure the handle is 4” long, as is each fork. If you have access, use a saw to make the cut rather than snapping the wood with your hands. You want the ends of the frame to be smooth and avoid splintering.
Use a knife around ¼” down from the top of the fork ends to create the V-shaped cut around the frame. This makes a groover for the elastic bands to stay securely in place. To give the handle a smoother and more comfortable feel in your grip, remove the bark from the branch.
Step Three: Prepare Your Slingshot Bands
Using your preferred band of choice, ensure both bands are cut to the same length. A general rule of thumb suggests using the wooden frame as a guide and cut each band to match that length.
For extra power behind the shot, shorter bands work best; however, they require large amounts of force to pull. To ensure your slingshot can manage this force, select a thickener frame for a tighter band.
Step Four: Prepare Your Slingshot Pouch
Whether you choose leather or durable cloth for your pouch, cut the material in an oval, octagonal, or rectangular shape. Ensure the material is 1” long and between 3 to 4” in width. To allow your pouch to hold the ammunition better, cut the ends of your rectangle into an octagon shape.
Next, cut a hole at least ¼” from each side of the pouch to allow space for the string to attach to the band.
Step Five: Assemble Your Slingshot
Now that you have all the components ready, it’s time to assemble your slingshot.
Take one elastic band, and wrap it around the groove of the slingshot frame, ensuring you tie the band tightly. Do the same on the other side of the slingshot frame with the second elastic band.
Grab your pouch, and pull the band through the slit, ensuring you double back. Then, tie the band to the slingshot fork it’s not yet attached to, and repeat the process with the second band.
Try Out Your New Slingshot
While you may now have a carefully crafted DIY slingshot, you will still need to practice to improve your aim and precision. Practice makes perfect, so spend a few hours working on your shot before heading out into the wild.