> TEOTWAWKI Blog: The Slingbow

1/3/12

The Slingbow

Jury-rigged slingbow and arrow.
I'm not sure if he's the inventor, but Dave Canterbury introduced the survival world to the slingbow on a large scale. The idea is fairly simple - shoot an arrow through a slingshot/wrist rocket. It's an interesting idea for a few reasons - it's lightweight, can shoot a wide variety of ammo and can be put together fairly inexpensively cheaply. It's also very quiet, which makes it compelling for low-key hunting in a post-collapse scenario. Arrows are generally reusable and easier to improvise/scratch build than ammunition, so the slingbow could make for an excellent and sustainable foraging tool in a long term collapse scenario.

To turn a regular slingshot into a slingbow, one modification needs to be made--the addition of some kind of arrow rest. Power bands - extra strength slingshot bands - are also a good idea. Dave's original design involved a key ring fastened between the slingshot's fork. Then he moved onto a zip-tied whisker biscuit, and then onto a couple different manufactured designs. He's just released his newest design, the Pocket Hunter, which looks to be the best yet. With some quick looking, it looks like at least one other company is manufacturing a "slingbow" type slingshot (Chief AJ).



You can modify arrows to fire more easily in the slingshot pouch by simply removing the arrow nock super gluing a golf tee into its place. Easy and works well.


I've played around a little bit with the zip-tied whisker biscuit design, and haven't been overly impressed. Zip ties don't work well--at least mine snapped after the first shot. I switched to using some thin line (250 lb dacron line, basically mini paracord) to lash the whisker biscuit. This works better, though it needs to be re-tightened every few shots.

The problem in the design is that the whisker biscuit is knocked forward upon firing, which tends to snap zip ties or knock the lashing loose. The forward movement of the whisker biscuit also hurts the accuracy of the shot - it creates inconsistency and throws nudges the arrow off a few inches in a seemingly random direction.

Improvised stopper for the slingbow. Ugly, but it helps.


I've mostly resolved the issue by adding a simple "stopper" to prevent the forward movement of the whisker biscuit. It's nothing more than a piece of wire hanger wrapper around the forks of the slingshot. With this, I'm getting better accuracy. I switched back to zip ties and was about to get 20 or so shots before one of the ties snapped. I'd recommend using cord if you were going to go this route, or at least carrying several spare sets of zip ties in your kit - they will break eventually.

Actual performance is decent. You're limited to a fairly short range -- within about 10 yards. Dave shortens the bands a little bit, which may help with range, but you're still going to be limited to a short range shot. I've done my practicing from about 7 yards and can hit minute-of-rabbit fairly consistently.

The power is respectable. Within close range, it has plenty of power to punch three inches into a hard archery target, which would be adequate for small game and, with the right arrow, larger game as well. They've been used to hunt rabbit, birds of various sizes wild pig, deer, and I think mountain goat. With the right modification or attachments, you can fish with 'em too, and I've seen some photos of some fairly sizable fish taken with slingbow. Great variety of potential dinners, if you can get close enough and hit what you're aiming at.


If you're looking at getting into a slingbow, I'd recommend spending the extra coin and getting a purpose built/manufactured slingbow instead of trying one of the DIY designs - at least the ones that I have seen. While you can cobble together the zip tied whisker biscuit or similar for a bit less, they're jury rigged, require regular readjustment and are going to have worse accuracy. My rigged slingbow is not something I'd want to be my life on - I just don't trust it durability wise.

The slingshot+power bands+whisker biscuit that I've toyed around with ran around $35. As an example, the Pathfinder School's Pocket Hunter runs $50 and comes with an extra set of power bands and a fishing attachment, so you're really only spending a little bit more for a much higher quality tool.

I'm planning on picking up a Pocket Hunter here in the near future and will give it a run through and let you guys know how it works.

The slingbow is a bit of a niche tool, but I do think it has great potential to be useful for food gathering. A firearm is of course more effective and easier to use, but firearms tend to make a lot of noise and rely on loaded ammunition, which will be valuable and difficult to recreate in a post-collapse world. The slingbow breaks down to a very small, lightweight kit, and could be a compelling addition to bug out gear, a gear cache or food gathering tools.

If  anyone knows about any better DIY slingbow designs, please let me know!

If you want to put together the zip tie/whisker biscuit slingbow, all of the components are available on Amazon - slingshot, power bands and whisker biscuit.

8 comments :

  1. How do you feel about the rabbit/squirrel killing power of the slingbow vs regular steel slingshot ammo? The arrow w/ broadhead is defintely more useful for deer, but does the arrow have any real advantage on small game?

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  2. A nice thing about the Slingbow is that you can easily switch to shooting normal ammo or found rocks. In this particular design, you can remove the stopper and then flip the whisker biscuit out of the way for shooting steel balls, marbles or stones.

    For something small that can be killed with a marble or steel ball, I don't see much advantage to using an arrow.

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  3. I made one a couple years ago - its pretty sweet! My biggest challenge was finding the 'bisquit', as the only ones that were sold down here had the bow mount as well - $35! Fortuntely, I went upstate on holiday and found 3 of them in the Cabelas Bargain Cave for $6 apiece - thats more like it!

    Where I really see this working for my locale - bowfishing. We have a lot of irrigation canals and fish can be spotted along the banks when walking. I'm thinking for fishing after SHTF, this would be as good or better than a fish trap - maybe. Texas law right now only allows rough fish (non game) to be targets.

    I use a pool cue canvas case to hold the arrows, you can leave one end unzipped to use as a impromptu quiver, using loop slung through belt. The case can be easily secured to a small rucksack.

    I need a lot of practice though, small targets like a can at 30 feet (10 yds.) is about as good as I've got so far.

    Glad to see this subject - thank you sir!

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  4. Another idea.....African bushman carry a medium length knobbed stick, forget the name...bit is basically a short range impact weapon thrown at small game from a baseball side throw type position....the stick spinning with weighted knob parallel to the ground striking the rabbit, squirrel..whatever....seen videos were it killsvthem out right or stuns them enough to walk up on and finish them off....takes practices I imagine but they can hit a running rabbit most of the time! Also makes a great close combat bludgeon!

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  5. Have a look at the old school equivalent - Paragon X-9 parabo knife. They use shorter arrows and attach at the field tip rather than the rear. I'd prefer greater cutting power for hunting.

    http://talkblade.info/viewtopic.php?p=113824

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  6. I wondered what will hapen to the biscuit as I would bet that it would get beat up after a few shots and probably effect the arrow's path upon release. I just purchased a slingshot and the whisker biscuit with the mount. Couldn't locate the one you have zip-tied. I am trying to figure a way to attach the biscuit on a rail, just a few inches in front of the slingshot where the bands won't snap against it. Placing it enough forward where the biscuit can still be able to stable the arrow. I don't want to have to repair the thing after each shot. I don't care about being able to put the slingshot in my pocket as I can fasten a shoulder sling for it if I need to hunt from a tree stand. Thoughts????

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  7. Really, I'd pick up Dave Canterbury's Pocket Hunter, versus a DIY solution. The Pocket Hunter will work right out of the package and give you better results than something jury rigged.

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  8. I recently bought the Pocket Hunter Adapter Kit, and I have to say, it's pretty sweet. I can hit a raccoon sized target at 20 yards without any practice, and it drives the arrow about 2 inches into the archery target I use with a field tip. With Practice I hope to increase my range and accuracy, but I have to say, Dave and the Pathfinder school have put out a nice little product.

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