Skip to main content
Selbstgebaute Steinschleuder aus Eibenholz
Always on Board

The Homemade Slingshot

  • Paul-Philipp Hanske
  • June 19, 2019
Credits cover image: Frank Stolle

Our author takes a home-made slingshot with him on every hike. It can be used to shoot against street signs and lakes - and incidentally it is an important instrument for family bonding.

As the father of three sons - 7, 10 and 14 years old - I always look forward to the weekend with a little anxiety. Testosterone can accumulate at home like humid summer heat before a thunderstorm, resulting in huge discharges in both cases. There's only one thing to do: air the children, get out into nature. The only problem is that they react as aggressively to the word "hiking" as they do to the sentence: "You are hungry? There's a bowl of sweet vegetables in the fridge!" So the Sunday trip was relabeled. Instead of hiking, I'm now saying expeditions. Three things are essential for a good mood: enough cookies for a long break every half hour. One pocket knife per child for sharpening sticks. But most of all, the slingshot I built with them. 

The result is not a simple slingshot - but a precise weapon with an enormous range.

Even obtaining the materials was an adventure. I wanted a branch out of yew, one of the hardest native woods. It is so tough that arches were made from it, in the Middle Ages. The children understood that the slingshot could only be made of yew. Unfortunately, yews grow very crippled, so we had to crawl through very shaggy bushes for a long time to find the right branch fork. I cut up an ultra-elastic orthopaedic workout band for the elastic band. The bag for the stone consists of the leather of an old handbag of my mother. The result is not a simple slingshot, but a precise weapon with an enormous range.

Then a loud chime sounds through the forest and we all look at each other a bit scared and run away quickly.

We spend the first half hour of the hike collecting stones. They must be as round and smooth as possible and about one centimetre in diameter. We quickly find what we are looking for at rivers - which is why our weekend hiking routes have shifted from mountains to river plains. Then we shoot, one after the other. Various objects have proved to be good targets. For example, the trunks of beech trees. Much better than spruce. It's satisfying, when the stone bounces off the hard beech wood with a dull sound. It is also nice to shoot at a lake, to lose sight of the stone at its apex and much later, far outside, to see the water crater. But shooting at street signs, such as those on dirt roads, is the most heroic thing for me and my sons. Just look left and right, aim quickly, fire. Then a loud bell sounds through the forest, we all look at each other a little scared - and run away quickly. The armed part of our family doesn't want to get involved with the forester after all.