Before there were rubber bands for slingshots, primitive weapons utilized other materials.
Who better to walk us through what these were while also providing analysis of their performance than Joerg Sprave, creator of The Slingshot Channel on YouTube?
“But of course a slingshot is nothing without rubber,” Sprave says. “Rubber wasn’t even invented until the mid 1800s.”
More specifically, Sprave writes on his video’s description that vulcanization, a chemical process invented by Charles Goodyear in 1839 to make the material more durable, is what allowed rubber to store energy for weapons in the first place.
“However, what did the Dennis the Menace kids use before rubber was invented?” Sprave questions.
Watch and learn (Note: Stay tuned for the bonus footage a “GoPro arrow” that Sprave loads and shoots from his blunderbuss slingshot at the end):
Here are some of the different materials Sprave discusses in the video:
- Hand-held sling (David’s sling): This basically consists of a string with a pouch in the middle. Holding both ends of the string, one swings and throws the projectile that was placed in the pouch. Sprave’s analysis: “Very powerful, but it takes a lot of practice to hit anything with it.”
- Sling on a stick: Similar to the hand-held sling but instead of looping one of the strings around one’s finger, the string is attacked to a stick and the other end is looped to a nail from which the string detaches when thrown and launches the projectile. Sprave’s analysis: “You can use it to throw very heavy projectiles with tremendous force.” This too he says takes a lot of practice to be accurate.
- Twisted rope: Twisting the rope, Sprave found, works well for storing energy for use in weapons like catapults and primitive slingshots. He shows off a weapon that works “like a combination of a crossbow and a slingshot.” Sprave’s analysis: Thumbs up.
“So, I think I proved the theory that it is possible to make a slingshot-like weapon without any rubber at all. Is it good? Well, not really. It’s totally weak and very, very clumsy but I think it’s interesting,” he said.
He proudly holds out his rubber band-less slingshot and says, “This is probably my weirdest slingshot. I still like it even if it’s weak.”
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