There’s been a lot of talk in the preparedness community about slingshots and their effectiveness as a small game hunting tool, especially in a large-scale disaster scenario where food stockpiles may run out. Today is going to be all about slingshots and their usefulness as a disaster prep.
Before we even get into this topic, we need to make a couple things very clear.
First, a slingshot is not a toy, it’s a weapon. You should be taking just as many precautions and safety procedures with a slingshot that you would with any other weapon. In fact, due to the inherent design of a slingshot, you will want to take even greater precautions, especially in eye protection. If you don’t believe me, go to YouTube and search for “slingshot accidents”. Warning: some of those videos are quite graphic.
Second of all, before the hate mail rolls in, yes there are several other weapons that are better suited for hunting than a slingshot. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Depending on the situation though, there can be several advantages to using a slingshot over other types of hunting tools, which we will be going over today.
The benefits of using a slingshot for hunting
On the surface it might seem that slingshots would be one of the worst choices for a hunting weapon. They’re not nearly as powerful as a bow (let alone a firearm), they take a lot of practice to be accurate with, you have to be much closer to your target and they’re usually pretty limited as far as what kind of game you can really go after with it. However, there are actually quite a few benefits for using a slingshot instead of a normal hunting weapon, including:
- They are easier to use in an urban areas – IE you’re unlikely to get the cops called on you for shooting a slingshot in your backyard.
- They are legal to openly carry in most areas
- They don’t attract nearly as much attention as a firearm or bow
- They are one of the most quiet ways to hunt game
- Finding ammo for a slingshot can be as easy as picking up a rock off the ground
- They have very few parts and can be made and maintained very easily
- You don’t need any sort of documentation or licenses to own a slingshot
- A commercial slingshot is a fraction of the cost of any other hunting tool
- Slingshot hunting is very challenging and can teach you to be a better hunter all-around
- In a SHTF, long-term disaster scenario, slingshots will be perfect for hunting small game when ammunition and gun parts are scarce and you want to be as quiet as possible.
The legalities of slingshot hunting
Slingshots are legal to own pretty much everywhere. I wanted to make a comprehensive list of what states allow slingshots for hunting; however this is actually a lot more of a grey area than I believed it would be. There are several states that simply have no laws on record at all about slingshot hunting and some states have conflicting information depending on what state office you ask.
Before you even think about using a slingshot for hunting, check with your local Department of Natural Resources or Game Warden’s office. You may need a hunter’s license or a small game license to stay legal. If they give you the go-ahead, be sure to write down the name of the person you were speaking with and their contact information.
Take this information with you when hunting. Since slingshot hunting isn’t nearly as popular as gun or bow hunting, your local park ranger or police officer may have no idea if you’re breaking the law or not and having this information could prevent you from landing in hot water by mistake.
Follow the seasons
Just because you’re hunting with a slingshot doesn’t mean you’re exempt from hunting seasons. Although in many areas small game hunting is legal year-round, some states have specific seasons when you can hunt specific small game.
Safety- slingshots really can kill you
A slingshot is simply a modified form of a Sling, which has been used for hunting and even defensive purposes for literally thousands of years. It’s not a toy. It can kill someone. Most commercial slingshots can shoot projectiles anywhere from 150-300 feet per second. Specialty hunting slingshots can actually reach over 400 feet per second. Combined with the heavy weight of most slingshot ammo, this is more than enough power to kill someone..
Types of slingshots
There are several types of slingshots on the market today ranging from a simple plastic fork with cheap bands, all the way to top-of the line hunting slingshots outfitted with super-strength bands, stabilizing bars and even laser sights.
Usually with gear, the rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for, however it’s been my experience that slingshots are kind of an exception to that rule. Some of the most expensive commercial hunting slingshots out there are pure JUNK. They’re inaccurate and wear out faster than even traditional, forked stick, backyard-made slingshots. It almost seems like the designers were much more concerned about making the thing look cool instead of actually making it functional.
In my opinion, the best slingshots are homemade. I’m not talking about a simple “Y” shaped stick in your backyard, but actually designing a slingshot out of high-quality material that fits your hand perfectly and experimenting with several band and pouch options until you have something that is tailor fit just for you and serves your purposes.
Types of slingshot bands
There are several types of pre-made bands you can buy for your slingshot. Most are made out of decent quality rubber and will last for at least a few months of normal use before noticing any decrease in performance.
That being said, I don’t actually recommend buying pre-made bands for slingshots. For one, they’re overpriced. Second of all, slingshot hunting is, unfortunately, not that popular. Slingshots in general aren’t all that popular. When you buy a package of those replacement bands at the big box store, it’s very likely they’ve been sitting on that shelf for over a year. For slingshot bands, that’s not good.
Your slingshot bands need to be changed out regularly. Not only will they deliver a more consistent shot and velocity but it’s much safer this way. Bands that have been sitting around a while will dry out and could even be cracked right out of the package. There’s a real chance that it could break on your first shot and cause injury.
I suggest buying band material and making your own. It’s extremely simple. The most common band material is called TheraBand Gold. It’s the industry standard for custom slingshot makers. You can find a link for an online calculator that will show you exactly how to measure these bands HERE at The Slingshot Channel.
Hunting Slingshot ammunition
Yes, you can shoot rocks and pebbles out of your slingshot with no problem. It’s been done for generations. That being said, natural materials shouldn’t be your go-to ammunition for a slingshot.
Rocks and pebbles are oddly shaped, have edges that could hurt your pouch and bands aren’t usually weighted correctly to give you consistent, accurate shot placement. Your best bet is to go with steel or lead shot.
Personally I like lead shot better for hunting. The shot is heavier and I believe it’s just a better round for the distances I like to shoot. Your experiences can and will be different depending on your setup. One major advantage steel shot has though is that it is magnetic, which makes it easier to collect after shooting it.
Don’t hunt if you can’t hit your target reliably
Hunting with a slingshot isn’t easy. You have to be much closer to your target since the slingshot doesn’t generate enough energy to keep the heavy projectile from falling mid-flight. You also have to be experienced with approaching small animals without spooking them. Additionally, slingshot ammunition doesn’t cause piercing damage, it causes blunt force damage. This means that you have to put your shots in an area that isn’t going to cause internal damage to your animal which can spoil your meat. This means headshots only guys.
My rule of thumb for this is simple. If you can’t hit a target the size of a quarter consistently, keep practicing and don’t go out hunting. Killing an animal humanely is a responsibility of every hunter.
Continue practicing at varying distances from your target. Once you get proficient enough that you can hit a target the size of a quarter reliably, then you’ll be ready to take those headshots on small game.
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