Pocket Artillery: Slingshots for the Pro
Come from childhood
Today, when children's battles most often take place on computers or video consoles, not every boy is able to make a slingshot. And thirty years ago, this was a necessary skill for survival in domestic wars.
Slingshots were divided into two groups: light - for firing with wire and paper bullets and heavy - for firing stones. The former were used for war games, had a simple construction made of aluminum or copper wire, and used round fishing or model aircraft rubber. There were also “forced” versions of such slingshots with tubular black nipple rubber, which was sold in bicycle shops, but they referred to the forbidden weapons as a kid’s code, as they left quite noticeable bruises. But even in the “humane” version with aircraft model rubber and an unwritten rule not to shoot on the head, these slingshots were the main cause of the loss or damage to the eyes of my peers.
For an authentic game of war, there was a simple manufacturing scheme for rubber-rifle rifles and pistols working on the crossbow principle.
There was also a lite option for the school. At the ends of the elastic, the rings were simply tied, which they put on the thumb and forefinger - they served as horns. As a rule, paper bullets were used for shooting in the classroom during lessons.
For real yard wars, as well as shooting at windows, bottles and cats, wooden slingshots were used with rubber from automobile (or bicycle) cameras or cut out of a pharmaceutical bandage. They shot, as a rule, with stones or glass balls - semi-finished products for the manufacture of fiberglass, which is unclear how they fell into the boy's arsenals. Such a slingshot could easily be killed. Kota - that's for sure.
Across the ocean, slingshots among the kids for firing at each other were not particularly widespread, but immediately migrated to the field of entertainment and sports (!) Weapons, with serious manufacturers, books on the theory of shooting and manufacturing, as well as competitions up to the world championships. Moreover, enthusiasts are stubbornly fighting for the inclusion of slingshots in the Olympic program.
Thanks to the Americans, we know how to make a powerful and accurate slingshot. There is no reason to distrust them - in the USA, for example, skeet shooting competitions are widespread. Consider yourself a slingshot master? Give it a try. What does an ideal slingshot look like?
How to shoot
As in firearms, the accuracy of the hit depends on the entire weapon-ammunition complex. Let's start with the ammunition. We do not consider children's U-shaped wire bullets for two reasons: because of insufficient accuracy (disgusting aerodynamics is to blame) and insecurity - the bullets that are often caught on gum fly back directly into the eye.
The stones are also not pulled to the title of perfect ammunition: they all differ in size, weight and shape, so it is not possible to achieve a stable result.
But glass balls are very suitable: they are perfectly symmetrical and quite heavy. A huge plus is that the refraction of light makes the flight path clearly visible, which is indispensable for developing instinctive shooting skills. There are two minuses: first, when hit in a solid obstacle, the balls fly into sharp fragments; secondly, they, as in childhood, are difficult to get.
Lead buckshot is almost perfect. The high density of lead allows you to make smaller balls with the same weight, they experience less air resistance and fly faster and further. Shotgun is sold in all hunting stores at an affordable price. There is one drawback - lead is poisonous. Not deadly, but still ...
Steel balls - almost no alternative. As a rule, this is a defect in the production of ball bearings. They can often be found in hunting stores. The cheapest 6-mm balls are used for entertaining shooting, for example, on aluminum cans, the heavier and more expensive 9-mm balls are used for training and competitions, and 12 mm, a large caliber, is positioned as a hunting one. Not on an elephant, of course, but on rats, a raven, and even fish.
Exotic ammunition exists. Slingshots can be used for specific paintball and shoot, respectively, with paintball balls with paint. You can shoot at insects with sand. In the United States, there is even such a sport - shooting sand wasps.
Case and leather
Traditional Y-shaped slingshots are made of wood, or rather, of suitable slingshots. Experts recommend fruit trees or nuts. If there are no trees at hand, plywood will do. The shape and length of the horns are determined solely by personal preference. Modern slingshots are made of thick steel wire. Sports slingshots also have an emphasis on the forearm, which allows you to keep your hand relaxed when shooting, as well as when shooting from a bow. Dimensions are a payment for convenience - such a slingshot is not just in your pocket, you are not pushing into every bag.
A stone or a ball is placed in a leather jacket or skin, which, as the name implies, has been made of leather for centuries. The skin should not be too soft or too hard. It is good to hold the soft with your fingers, but it unevenly slips out when fired, which affects accuracy. Solid is the opposite. Good leather comes from old belts and shoes.
But the most important thing in the slingshot, of course, is rubber. Almost everything is determined by its quality. The most important quality of rubber is elasticity. It largely depends on the content of natural latex in rubber. Ideally, all rubber should be latex. By the way, this is exactly what specialized companies produce. Now flat rubber is used extremely rarely, mainly for recreational shooting.
The modern king of slingshot rubber is surgical latex, mostly tubes. There is a suspicion that specialized companies do not bother with their own production, but simply repackage medical products. The Russian hit is the Pezzer's catheter, which can be bought at Medtekhnika or in large state pharmacies. Length 34 cm and several sizes in diameter suggest that old Pezzer was not indifferent to slingshots. Catheters are numbered from 12 to 36 depending on the diameter, the most popular numbers for shooters are 22 and 24.
Enthusiasts get tube latex from various sources, for example from expanders. Pathos shooters use only branded American rubber Trumark, with red, $ 4.95 per set. This is in the USA. In Russia, a pair of catheters will cost 100 rubles.
A small point of principle. At the level of intuition, it seems that the more difficult the rubber lasts, the faster and further it will send the ball. Nothing like this. What matters is not strength, but the speed of contraction. Thicker rubber is needed only for very heavy shells. But in practice it often turns out that the lighter rubber feels faster.
The traditional distance for slingshot shooting coincides with the distance for pneumatic weapons - 10 m. As in archery, uniform pulling and repeatability of movements are important. There is no classical technique here: some hold the slingshot strictly vertically, others - almost horizontally, and others - at some angle. The main thing is that it should be comfortable, and that the next time you keep it in exactly the same position.
The same thing with sights: some shoot without them, offhand, while others - using the simplest mechanical devices. The advantage of the first method is the instinctive correction for the distance, which is important if you are going to hunt with a slingshot or shoot on skeet. Any sighting device (it can just be a line on one of the horns) gives an advantage when shooting at a constant distance, for example at a target. More serious advice can be found in the handbook of all slingshot athletes - Jack Köhler's slingshot shooting. Perhaps, there is no way to come up with a more accessible shooting discipline. So the assumption that someday we can see the slingshot at the Olympics does not seem so fantastic.The article was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 10, October 2009).