Whether to intimidate small animals or score a meal, using a slingshot is one of the primitive skills you must learn.
Primitive Skills: Using a Slingshot for Survival
Modern slingshots have been in use for around 175 years. And while they might be notably associated with childhood vandalism (like “Dennis the Menace”), they are also incredible survival tools, provided you have the patience to practice.
They’re ultralight, compact, have unlimited ammo, and powerful enough to take out a rabbit, squirrel, bird, and other small game. When it comes to using a slingshot for survival (and honing any primitive skills really), practice makes perfect, and patience breeds perfection.
After you choose your slingshot (either homemade or store bought), the next key point is choosing the right ammo and practicing your aim. Before you know it, you’ve mastered the slingshot, adding it to your knowledge of primitive living skills.
Testing out any new skill can be incredibly frustrating, but you’ve got to stick with it. Some things are not readily taught in survival school, so it’s nice to take advantage when you have the resources.
Check out the step-by-step guide below to start using a slingshot properly:
Step 1: Look for Ammo
The type of ammo you’ll use has a big impact on your accuracy and exactly how lethal your shot will be. Ideally, you’ll want to use uniform ammo (like ball bearings) to get an accurate shot every single time.
However, in an SHTF scenario, access to ball bearings will be impossible, so I always recommend practicing with rocks. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Step 2: Load and Hold Your Ammo
Load your slingshot with your selected ammo. Using your dominant hand, hold the base of the slingshot.
Your ammo should be placed exactly in the middle of the pouch without shifting. The positioning of your ammo is important as it will tell how it will be projected when fired.
Step 3: Keep Your Ammo in Place
With the use of your thumb and index finger, hold the ammo and stretch out the rubber of your slingshot. Make sure to have your thumb parallel with the strap. Avoid having the pocket or pouch get squeezed too tight as this can hinder the release of the ammo.
RELATED: 19 “Old World” Primitive Survival Skills You’ll WISH You Knew Before SHTF
Step 4: Aim
Aim for your target and have your dominant hand hold the slingshot handle. After the release, there may be a tendency for your slingshot to jerk forward, which can lead to inaccurate firing. Your strong arm is more adept to keep the slingshot steady, thus avoiding an inaccurate fire.
Step 5: Position the Slingshot
Have your arm raised on the side while holding the slingshot. You can choose to point the fork upward or angle to the side, both positions will work fine. In the end, it will all boil down to the type of shot you’re taking.
Step 6: Clear and Fire
Aim slightly above your target, make sure nothing will block the path, and then release of your ammo. Practice using both eyes when aiming; this improves your accuracy compared to using just your dominant eye. Pull the band and stretch it out until it forms a triangle.
Step 7: Release the Band to Fire
Before releasing, make sure you have a clean shot and there are no obstructions ahead aside from your target. Know that the length of your band determines the distance to your target.
The shorter the band, the shorter its range is. When everything is clear, release your grip from the ammo.
Learn other useful primitive survival skills outdoors by watching this video from Wilderness Pioneers:
Learning how to use a slingshot is one of the most useful primitive skills you can acquire. But while it’s really fun to use, a slingshot can also be dangerous and cause unintended harm to others.
For that reason, you should be careful and responsible in how you use it. If you’re a newbie on using slingshots, don’t worry because your accuracy and precision can improve through practice.
Aside from using a slingshot, what other primitive skills do you know? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 19, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
One thing that makes aiming a slingshot easier, is correct draw length. Make sure the bands are long enough for your arm so that when you draw, your arm is out straight and the pouch is just next to your chin. Then, as you mentioned in the article, practice, practice, practice.
I’ve found that the use of .177 ball bearings (stainless for the environmental issue and being able to pull the shot from the target cleanly) has worked the best and as the article says keeps the tragectory consistent. I’ve never been so miffed as being close to a target and use an ovoid rock to fire and watch as the projectile literally changes course like a spitball from a pitcher (Low and outside!!!) to late to reload and short on ball bearings… I’ve learned to carry a “Fanny pack” with my shot so as to not run low, and at 10 yds it’s a good chance at stunning or killing shot that gives you the opportunity to finish the prey religiously, and without prejudice or hate.
Hollow or solid?
Don’t wait till you need it practice now at least an hour a week, like I do if the time comes I won’t need practice.
I’ve used river gravel, iron ore pellets off railroad tracks, marbels and got ahold of a couple of 5 gal. buckets of agitator balls for paint cans.the .177cal ss. ammo is more accurate. Still have same slingshot I got 47 years ago from a mail order catillog. As article suggests practice is the key. I’m deadly accurate at anything under 20 yards. Practice, Practice . Practice!