Is a slingshot a valid survival tool? In some instances it might be, but you would need a good one. Here we review the high tech Survival Slingshot.
by Leon Pantenburg
From grouse in the Idaho back country to squirrels in a metropolitan park, a slingshot might be the most effective tool for gathering food. In fact, because of the compact size, silent use and easy conceal-ability, a slingshot could be the best choice.
So do you need a slingshot in your emergency gear? Let’s think about that while we look at the high tech Survival Slingshot.
A slingshot as a survival tool
According to the dictionary, a slingshot is “…a forked stick, to which an elastic strap (or a pair of elastic bands connected by a small sling) is fastened to the two prongs, typically used for shooting small stones.”
According to the company brochure, the Survival Slingshot has a cast aluminum alloy hollow handle, with a steel brace and yoke. The end cap is also cast aluminum, and everything has an anodized finish. The bands are made of surgical tubing. The waterproof hollow handle provides eight cubic inches of storage space, and a compass is embedded in the cap.
For the techie improvement geek, the Survival slingshot has the potential for endless customization improvements.The taped holes in the front accessory mount and side rails use #4 fasteners. The side mount can accept a standard scope mount. All this means you can attach a tactical light and there are many options to mount a scope.
There are optional accessories that allow the slingshot to be converted to shooting arrows. This could be a good choice for extended survival situations, since it is usually a lot easier to find arrows than ball bearings once you’ve shot them.
How it works:
I have not handled a slingshot in a very long time, so the first thing I did was assemble the unit, and make sure all the screws and fastenings were tight. Then I started shooting it. My initial accuracy with the slingshot was predictable!
A viable survival tool has to be accurate, and all the scopes, laser sights and doo-hickys won’t make that happen. You’ll have to put in some practice time to harvest small game animals. There are a lot of similarities between shooting a slingshot and a recurve bow. Drawing on my archery experience, here are some of the things to practice.
Start by zeroing for maximum efficiency. Here’s how to do it:
- Shoot the same ammo all the time. You can shoot any rock or missile that fits in the pouch, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to hit anything. In any precision shooting, each round or missile should be a clone of the other.
- Length of draw: As in archery, you need to practice so the bands are drawn to precisely the same place for each shot. This ensures uniform velocity, another critical aspect of accuracy.
- Consistent anchor point: I use the right-hand corner of my mouth as the point where I hold at full draw. Experiment and see what works best for you.
- Uniform release: I pinch the ball bearing in the pouch between my thumb and index finger, and release the shot by relaxing my grip. Do this over and over, and you should develop a consistent let off.
- Grip: Try to grasp the handle with the same pressure for each shot. As in handgun shooting, don’t grip too loosely, or you won’t be able to control the recoil. Too tightly may change point of impact.
Then shoot a lot, using the same sight picture. Set up targets at different ranges to check your ability. Before you release the ball bearing, concentrate on a consistent let off.
Shooting a slingshot has to become instinctive. Putting on a lazer sight, tactical flashlight or scope doesn’t take away from the need to practice!
Survival Slingshot specs
Construction: The slingshot is solid, sturdy and well-made or aluminum and steel. With reasonable care it should last a long, long time.
Hollow handle: I’m not a fan of hollow handle survival tools. They are generally not very ergonomic for long term use, and I question the value of that tiny space when there is the potential it might compromise the handle’s strength. Also, I think most people need to carry the right items to take advantage of the space. (Check out this post)
In this instance, the space could be well-used. I would dump the items (matches, fishing hooks and weights etc) that come with the slingshot, and use the handy containers to carry ammunition. Everyone should have a well-thought-out emergency kit anyway, and you need to store as much ammo as possible with the slingshot.
The compass in the handle is adequate to give a general direction, but it is strictly a backup. Carry a good magnetic compass.
Bands: These are made of surgical tubing, and the ones that came with my slingshot were pretty stiff. In any slingshot, a visual inspection of the tubing should be done before each use. When a band fails, it generally happens when you are at full draw, and that will definitely get your attention!
Accuracy: Since I haven’t practiced much, my slingshot accuracy is nothing to brag about. But I can regularly whack a tennis ball sized target at 10 feet, and that would be adequate to harvest a rabbit crouching in the weeds or a bird hunkering down in the brush. The brochure warns that the slingshot can be dangerous to 250 yards, and you must always be careful that the ball bearings don’t ricochet off a hard surface.
Do you need a slingshot in your emergency gear?
No, if all you intend to do is stow the slingshot and take it out when it’s needed. No matter what sighting devices are installed, there is still the need to practice. If you won’t commit to practicing with the slingshot, it won’t do you much good.
But if you will invest the time to becoming proficient with the slingshot, there are a lot of advantages.
- Silent: You can shoot a slingshot in a crowded area, as when squirrel or pigeon hunting in the city, and nobody will hear it.
- Save ammo: A good slingshotter could conserve .22 rimfire cartridges or shotgun shells by using a slingshot for the easier small game shots. When the ball bearings run out, carefully selected rocks could be used.
- Easily carried: The Survival Slingshot folds into a compact, lightweight package, and it would fit nicely in an emergency pack.
- Reasonably priced: The Survival Slingshot costs about $50, and that is a whole lot less than even the cheapest .22 handgun.
You will decide what items need to go in your emergency pack. My Survival Slingshot is going in my car kit.