A slingshot (also sometimes called a catapult, shanghai, or katty) is a small hand-powered projectile weapon. The forked Y-shaped frame has two rubber strips attached to the uprights, leading back to a pocket for holding the projectile.

It is normally fired by holding the frame in the non-dominant hand, extended at arms length. The pocket is then gripped between thumb and forefinger of the dominant hand, pulled back to near the cheek, aimed and the pocket released to fire the projectile toward the target.

Home-made slingshots were a popular children's toy for much of the twentieth century.


The classic form of sligshot relies upon the availability of vulcanized rubber. The most common source of rubber was from the inner tubes of tires and so it seems unlikely that they were constructed before 1888. Once invented they became an archetypal boy's toy up until shortly after World War II. These were generally self-made from a forked tree branch and "red rubber" inner tubes. (Later inner tubes had carbon-black added, which made them much less elastic. Modern inner tubes use synthetic rubber and in fact quite a few tires are now tubeless).

Commercial versions were available from early on and in 1948 Wham-O had as their first product a slingshot, but the sophisticated modern models start with the first wrist-braced slingshot—the Saunders "Wrist-Rocket", in 1954.[1]


Construction and use

Although the simple forked stick and rubber models are still made by children, there are now a range of commercial models, including very sophisticated and powerful ones.

Many more powerful commercial slingshots now have a wrist-braces and some models have stabilizers, rotating prongs, sighting mechanisms and other sophisticated improvements. While these are not necessary, they usually improve the power, lifespan of the bands and accuracy.
Slingshot made with Rubber

The material for the rubbers is critical. The best widely-available material is dipped latex rubber surgical tubing or latex sheeting. It lasts about six months before it needs to be replaced. It can be attached to the frame and packet by stretching it over a metal rod of the correct diameter. Some slingshots have been constructed of metal tubing of the exact diameter. Rubbers should be stored under water away from sunlight, which causes them to stiffen and crack.

A slingshot champion appearing on the David Letterman Show some years ago[citation needed] said to hold the projectile pocket at a fixed position near the body, such as the hip and move the frame based on gut feeling and practice, just like a gunslinger or hip-shooter in the American wild west. Many gunslingers could hit a target without raising their weapon to eye level.

The common slingshot is made out of wood and rubber tubing. Usually it has a leather pouch in which one places a projectile.


A sling can be powerful enough to hunt game such as small rodents and birds at ranges up to 25 meters. A typical heavy pull band slingshot should be used with 9mm (3/8") to 12mm (1/2") steel balls. Using lighter ammunition doesn't increase the speed of the projectile significantly. The regular "ammo" for slingshots are rubber balls dipped in wax to be more areodynamic and also to have an burning pain from the friction of the speed versus the density of the wax[citation needed]


Slingshots may also be used in recreational paintball games as backup or silent sniper weapon (Slingshot paintball). Even though the average speed and distance of a slingshot is slightly less than that of a paintball gun [1], some paintball playing fields may not allow them.

In popular culture

    * Slingshots have often been portrayed as the weapon of choice of mischievous youths. Iconic examples of this are Dennis the Menace, Bart Simpson, Daniel Fiorito, Oor Wullie and Opie Taylor from the The Andy Griffith Show.

    * Former child actress Shirley Temple revealed in an interview that she was a slingshot user, with Eleanor Roosevelt as one of her "victims".

    * In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link uses a slingshot as his primary ranged weapon as a child, before growing up and using a bow.

    * In the anime/manga series One Piece, one of the main characters, Usopp, uses a slingshot.

    * In Earthbound the slingshot is an equipable weapon that everyone except Poo can equip.

    * In Anthony Horowitz's series The Power of Five, a slingshot is Pedro's primary weapon.

    * Slingshots appear as highly effective weapons in Stephen King's It, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass and Thinner.

    * Slingshots are frequently depicted as the favored weapons of monkeywrenchers for the ability to use improvised ammunition like stones and bolts to destroy sensitive equipment.

    * In the Beverly Hillbillies, the slingshot is the weapon of Elly May Clampett.




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