The childhood experience isn’t complete without crafting and shooting your own slingshot. If you’ve never made one yourself, you should learn how to make one, (link to article about making slingshot) not just as a toy, but as a serious backup for hunting and self-defense.
There’s a very thin line between a toy slingshot and one used as a weapon. If you take a “toy” slingshot and replace the elastic bands for a set with a heavier pull, and change your ammo to more potent ball bearings, then you now have a deadly weapon for small game, at least. And since it’s a deadly weapon, certain rules and restrictions apply for safe and effective use. This guide shows you how to best use your slingshot for small game, without wasting precious kill or causing injury to yourself or others.
Treat it with respect
Although it is easy to see if a slingshot is “loaded”, never point it, even jokingly, at anyone or anything you don’t want to see destroyed or harmed. Doing so will only “teach” you to develop bad habits, and to treat this and other types of weapons casually. Many an accidental injury or death has resulted from pointing an “unloaded” gun, bow, slingshot and other projectile weapons in the wrong direction.
Even if you have more potent weapons along with the required proficiency and skill, don’t rely on them 100%. It’s practical to know how to craft, repair and use as many survival weapons as possible, like, of course, the slingshot. Start on making a slingshot and putting in as many hours as you can practicing with it; get used to the weight, the pull of the bands, the throw direction, and the use of different ammo like steel nuts and ball bearings or stones.
Wear eye protection when using your slingshot. Many types of sunglasses can provide some level of impact protection. Remember that a slingshot propels projectiles at high speeds, and these can and will ricochet if they hit the ground or other object. For this reason you should also avoid shooting a target at point-blank range, especially when using ammo that might splinter on impact, like rocks.
Hunt the right game
Shooting at birds small enough to fit in your hand is overkill as you may not get a satisfactory meal from them and they can be a waste of ammo and time. Don’t overestimate the lethality of your slingshot. Shooting larger game like wild pigs might be a costly mistake. It’s not impossible to take down bigger game like deer, but only the most skilled and experienced hunters can do this. Using a slingshot on larger game might only injure or annoy those creatures and they may even turn on you and attack. Stick to hunting game you’ll actually be able to kill, and want to eat like pheasants, wild turkey, fowl, ducks, rabbits, squirrels and pigeons. Also, unless it’s a real SHTF situation, never hunt and kill any endangered species.
Use the right ammo
Use ammo that won’t break apart or splinter into fragments, such as glass marbles or similarly brittle missiles. Besides not killing your prey outright, the fragments could ricochet and seriously injure you. Jagged, unevenly-shaped stones are a bad choice due to their poor aerodynamics. They won’t attain enough speed to kill what you’re hunting or might miss your target entirely. Use smooth stones found by a riverbed or ball bearings that are ¾ inch in diameter – these are more accurate, don’t break apart and can reach sufficient speed to kill. If you seriously want to kill bigger game, you can modify your slingshot to fire arrows.
Why not a slingbow?
Whether your slingshot is handmade or store-bought, you can purchase or improvise an arrow-nocking attachment for it. This is called a slingbow conversion. With it, you can fire arrows to hunt bigger game, spear fish or use it as a more lethal self-defense weapon.
Learn to stalk and hunt
To successfully hunt and kill small game, you’ll have to practice the art of stalking. Here are some tips:
- Be sure to empty your pockets of anything that jangles – keys, loose change, even your choice of projectile. Keep your ammo in a separate muffled pouch to prevent it from making noise.
- Dress in comfortable clothing. Unlike firearms, slingshots might require you to keep a charged shot trained for long periods of time, which can quickly cause fatigue. Light and comfortable clothes ensure your arms won’t tire easily so you can stay longer in the game.
- Don’t wear strong scents like colognes and deodorant that will alert prey to your presence. As much as possible, stay downwind of the target.
- If there happens to be a crosswind (wind moving perpendicular to your shot), be aware that it might affect your attempt. Projectiles that are sufficiently large and not aerodynamic are more susceptible to crosswinds, so switch ammo as necessary.
- Familiarize yourself with the shape and appearance of your prey animal’s tracks. Search for fresh tracks, walking slowly and stopping to scan the area for signs of the animal’s presence.
- Avoid stepping on any debris. Snapping twigs and rustling leaves alert prey and spook them.
- Be ready anytime as the opportunity to take a shot can quickly pass.
- If you see a prey animal, remain calm and quiet. Try to get within striking range, at least 8-10 feet, to ensure maximum effect.
- Before you shoot, always be sure you have a clear, clean shot. There should be nothing between your slingshot and your prey. Always aim for the head with the intention of a one-shot kill. Shoot purposefully and be mindful about not letting the animal suffer needlessly. If you don’t fully commit, you could waste your opportunity and miss a valuable meal. A wounded animal could die unnecessarily in its burrow later while you still have an empty stomach.
When in a SHTF scenario, you should seriously consider having a slingshot and a slingbow conversion, as they’re worthwhile tools for getting food in the wild. As with any other survival weapon, practice with your slingshot to get the feel of how it handles, and acquaint yourself with its range and level of accuracy. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, try hunting small game when you go on a camping trip. Do note that a slingshot is illegal to carry and use in some states, so do your homework before getting started.