Slingshots are perhaps one of the most versatile projectile weapons known to man, coming in a multitutde of forms and variations. In recent decades, they have garnered favorable attention in various fictional media. For instance, slingshots were featured prominently in Disney cult classic “Newsies.” Slingshots furthermore played a significant role on author Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel The Kite Runner. As such, it’s no wonder these handy little devices have become so popular and well-known. Depending on what the individual slingshot enthusiast wants out of the device, a slingshot can be built to be as simple and harmless as a children’s toy, or constructed as a weapon powerful enough to cause serious bodily injury. For a basic slingshot more or less free of monetary cost, one can simply stretch a rubber band between the fingers – simply slip in a projectile of your choice, and let fly! On the other hand, more complex, dangerous, and expensive slingshots often take the form of catapults, which can be constructed from such exotic materials as horns and antlers from animals like buffalo and deer, as well as rare hardwoods. In addition, commercial slingshots are available for purchase with handy built-in gadgets such as wrist-braces, stabilizers, sighting mechanisms, and other improvements designed to streamline and sophisticate one’s slingshot experience. Moreover, custom-designing one’s own personal slingshot to best suit one’s particular needs is certainly not out of the question.
Slingshots themselves have a long and practical history. For many centuries in the British isles, as well as the greater European continent, only members of the nobility and other wealthy political favorites could gain permission from the government to officially hunt game. However, there was no shortage of game itself – small (and edible) animals such as pheasants and rabbits peppered the Western European countryside. “Common” folk such as peasants, determined to have their fill of meat, deduced that they would need cheap but effective hunting weapons. However, those weapons would also need to be small, accurate, and efficient, so as to avoid detection from their wealthy overseers. Thus, slingshots quickly became popular among these poorer aspiring hunters.
Modern day uses for slingshots are as varied as the slingshot itself, and include hunting, fishing, sporting, and even military applications. In addition to being serviceable for hunting small game such as birds and rodents, slingshots can be used in fishing to project bait into otherwise unreachable areas. On the sporting side of the spectrum, slingshots are often used in recreational paintball games as a type of backup weapon. Although not all paintball playing fields allow the use of slingshots, there is indeed such thing as “slingshot paintball.” It should be noted, however, that the average velocity and range of a slingshot rarely matches that of a paintball gun. On the other hand, in the military, slingshots have gained popularity among guerrilla forces such as the Irish Republican Army, more popularly known as the IRA – precisely because of the relatively simple and inexpensive means required to construct such weapons. In addition, militaries sometimes use slingshots to launch unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Arguably the most famous of these was the AeroVironment Wasp UAV. This UAV was successful launched to high speeds with the aid of a Saunders Wrist-Rocket Pro slingshot.
Whether for use in sporting, hunting, or easy and harmless recreation with common office supplies such as rubber bands, slingshots offer a versatile range of both forms and functions. Cheap slingshots for beginners are easily available at reasonable prices at convenience stores and toy shops, while for the serious slingshot enthusiast, more expensive models can be ordered online from any number of sporting and hunting goods providers. Whether you’re a standard outdoor enthusiast, a history geek, or a longtime weapons collector, take the time to explore the many exciting uses for this plain but storied device! With proper safety precautions, purchasing and using a brand new slingshot may quickly prove to be well worth your while.