The Effectiveness of Slingshots for Hunting Small Game
There is much written on the internet about the effectiveness of slingshots for hunting and the sad fact of the matter is that a lot of it is simply not true. I certainly am not pointing fingers or trying to call anyone out but what I would like to do is put out factual and not anecdotal information. There are a lot of places where slingshots are not considered to be effective hunting tools and the last thing that people just starting out with slingshots need to do is to use ineffective setups or experiment with less than optimal setups and wound game. All this will do is frustrate the potential hunter and add fuel to the fire of those who are against slingshots as a hunting tool.
On some other blogs you will hear pseudo experts telling new shooters what is needed to hunt with a slingshot. They will be the first ones to tell you exactly what you need to use to hunt with, fact of the matter is no one can tell you a set up that will result in one shot kills 100% of the time. I’m sorry that just is not possible with a slingshot, or with a bow or firearm for that matter, if that is what you are trying to do best you get another hobby. Hunters owe it to the game they hunt to attempt to harvest the game as quickly and ethically as possible and should always attempt to do so, but also to recognize that is not always going to be the case. Understanding how our equipment works and what it takes to ethically kill an animal is important for any hunter but especially when using low powered weapons like a slingshot. Animals die from tissue damage, the more massive the damage the more effective the weapon is. The way this damage happens is the transfer of energy to that tissue, so of course a hunter wants the set up that generates the most energy. We have talked about this in other articles but as a recap, energy comes from mass of the projectile and velocity. Therefore the best setup is the one that shoots the heaviest projectile the fastest. There is absolutely no reason not to attempt to get the most velocity possible. As long as you are using quality ammo it will shoot straight at the fastest velocities a slingshot can produce. Also high velocity helps accuracy at unknown ranges, the flatter the trajectory the easier to hit at different ranges and the more energy generated, simple physics.
There has to be some sort of a quantifiable way to measure this energy, here in the United States we use ft lbs of energy, in Europe it is joules, since I am in the United States I will use ft lbs. So how much do I need? This is somewhat of a loaded question with some hunters saying one thing others another. I have heard people quote as little as 5 ft lbs. I think this is too low for the animals normally taken with slingshots, rabbits, squirrels and pigeon size game. I am sure with a perfect shot 5 ft lbs would take game however we live in an imperfect world and your setup should have enough power to take game with a LESS than perfect shot. You never know when a twig will deflect your shot or the animal will move at the moment of release or even while the ball is in flight. Personally I want a setup that has enough power to anchor the animal even if the shot is off just a bit, for me that has been 10 ft lbs or more. This is a number I have came up from personal experience and is somewhat subjective. I am not telling you that you must do as I do, I am simply stating what I have found to be effective for myself. If you are wondering how to calculate this energy this program does it for you, simply enter the weight and speed of your projectile here.
Just like in the paragraph above, new shooters are blasted continuously with terms like blunt force, ft lbs of energy, velocity, kinetic energy, joules and on and on. For a new shooter it can be overwhelming but unfortunately it is necessary. If you are going to hunt with any weapon you ought to take the time to understand the terminology and mechanics of your chosen method to hunt. So many times I have heard someone say, “I am not a numbers person, I judge a set up on how it performs on game”. This line of thinking does a disservice to the game hunted and to new shooters alike. How are we supposed to understand exactly what is going on with our hunting setups if we refuse to use scientific methods of evaluation? I am certainly not saying that everyone has to buy a grain scale and a chronograph, what I am saying is that it is absolutely helpful to look at velocity and energy charts others have done in order to get an idea of effective hunting setups. I realize that everyone is different but these charts will at least get a new person into the ball park without wasting a ton of time and money experimenting themselves. It is fine to not be a “numbers” person but it is not fine to wound game because you are too headstrong or lazy to learn to use solid data such as this and this.
You will always hear about someone’s grandpa or Rufus killed a truck load of game without all this talk of energy and speed, and that statement is absolutely true. However it took them years of trial and error and a lot of wounded game to come up with working setups and not everyone wants to shoot heavy gum rubber and rocks, so for modern setups why not use modern data?