By Gever Tulley with Julie Spiegler
Make a Slingshot
Create your own primitive tool.
1. Make elastic bands. To begin, tie 2 rubber
bands together to make a long band. Repeat.
If you find you want more power later, you can
double up the rubber bands.
2. Make a pocket. Cut a small rectangle out
of a scrap of leather or sturdy cloth. You can
either tie the rubber bands to the pocket, or
cut 2 small holes and loop the bands through.
3. Assemble. Tie the rubber bands to the
ends of a forked stick. If the bands slip off, try
lashing them in place with a bit of string.
WARNING: Slingshots aren’t inherently very
dangerous, but releasing projectiles can be. Always know
where you are pointing your slingshot and NEVER aim
in the direction of a person or pet. You are responsible
for every projectile you release.
4. Aim. Place a pebble in the pocket and trap
it by pinching the pocket with thumb and
forefinger. Hold the handle steady at arm’s
length. Keep a light, but firm, grip on the
pocket and pull back.
Rubber bands, medium-sized
Scrap of leather or cloth
Pebbles, peas, or flower buds
Clear area without people, pets,
or things that might get damaged
5. Fire. Release the pocket!
Slingshot masters say that the key to aiming is to hold the pocket steady and move
the forked stick around to line up your shot.
Aluminum cans make good targets: set ’em
up and knock ’em down.
Accuracy comes from repetition. Gather a
pile of pebbles and spend a few minutes every
day aiming at a variety of targets. A slingshot
master can hit a soda can from 20 paces. ;
Excerpted from Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let
Your Children Do) by Gever Tulley with Julie Spiegler (fifty
dangerousthings.com). Gever is co-founder of Brightworks,
a new K– 12 school in San Francisco ( sfbrightworks.org).
• The slingshot is a fairly modern invention, as these
things go. It requires long, thin strips of stretchy
rubber — a material produced first in the late 1800s
and not widely available until the early 1900s.
The idea is really an update of the ancient sling (a
leather pocket tied to 2 leather strips), the weapon
purportedly used by David to bring down Goliath.
• Rubber got its name from Joseph Priestley
(inventor of soda water), who noticed that blobs
of it were good for rubbing pencil marks off paper.
• If there was no air resistance to contend with,
a pebble fired from a slingshot would travel in what
is referred to as a ballistic trajectory. From the
moment the pebble leaves the pocket of the sling-
shot, gravity bends its path down towards Earth. Put
the air back into the equation and the path gets even
shorter. Without air resistance, your pebble would
travel almost twice as far.
156 Make: makezine.com/28