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How Fast Does a Slingshot Shoot? | 3 Key Factors

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Many of us grew up playing with slingshots; practicing shooting pebbles at younger siblings was a favorite pastime, but few know that slingshots can be an effective weapon as well. Slingshots were created to be used as a hunting implement for small and medium-sized game, so they go fast enough to penetrate the body. The question remains, just how quickly can slingshots shoot? 

A slingshot is estimated to shoot as fast as several hundred miles per hour, though there is no official world record. How fast you get your slingshot to shoot mainly depends on three things: skill level, ammo, and the slingshot itself. To break skin, it must reach a minimum of 136 mph (219 km/h). 

In this article, I’ll explain more about how fast a slingshot shoots and what factors determine a slingshot’s ultimate speed. I’ll also consider how much speed is needed to shoot and kill an animal using a slingshot and share a slingshot’s effective range.

Factors Affecting Slingshot Speed

Hunting-Slingshot-on-a-table

When you’re shooting a slingshot, there are three main factors that affect the projectile’s speed: your individual skill, the materials of your slingshot, and the type of ammo you’re using.

1. Personal Skill Level

The first, and quite possibly most important, factor affecting the speed of your slingshot is your own skill. Think of it in terms of a bicycle; If you’re able to bike in a perfectly straight line, you’ll go faster than someone who is wasting time and energy wobbling back and forth. The same applies to slingshots. 

If you’re wasting time and energy not holding the slingshot steady and continuously adjusting your aim, and you lack the strength to hold the elastic back at a sustained tension, then your slingshot won’t go as fast. 

2. The Slingshot Materials

The second main factor affecting your slingshot’s speed is the materials from which your slingshot is crafted. The main piece of your slingshot that is going to affect the speed is the band. Flat bands may wear out more quickly, but they provide a quicker shot than round tubes due to the difference in surface area. 

Also, an important thing to remember is you must replace your bands regularly. Elastic doesn’t last forever, and if you notice your slingshot has been less snappy recently, changing the band may be the solution. 

3. Type of Ammo Used

Clay slingshot ammo is generally regarded as the best choice in terms of speed and lethality. It’s lightweight, which makes it more efficient than metal ammo. In addition, it’s symmetrical shape makes it a better choice than the childhood classic choice of pebbles. 

If you want your slingshot to have more speed and you’ve been using metal ammo or even rocks like they do in the movies, then you may want to test out clay projectiles and see if they give you the additional speed you’re looking for. 

How Much Speed Do I Need To Kill an Animal With a Slingshot?

When you see slingshots used to hunt in movies, it’s often portrayed as a relatively simple thing to do. As it turns out, it’s actually extremely difficult. 

How much speed you need to kill an animal with a slingshot is related to thickness of skin and bone structure for each species. To break through human skin, the slingshot’s ammo must reach at least 136 mph (219 km/h). To continue to penetrate the body, it must reach around 350 mph (560 km/h). 

Slingshots are most often used for hunting and killing small and medium animals. Their bones are thinner and don’t require nearly as much force to penetrate. However, this also comes with some difficulties. 

The best place to hit a small animal while hunting is the head. This helps to preserve the meat and fur while killing the animal as quickly as possible. The downside to this target, in the case of small animals, is it makes the target extremely small. Think about the size of a squirrel’s head. It’s pretty tiny, and trying to hit that from a distance can be extremely difficult. 

The Effective Range of a Slingshot

Man Firing a Slingshot Toward a Tree in the Distance

One of the downsides of using a slingshot, as opposed to more modern weapons such as compound bows and guns, is that their effective range is relatively small. Let me explain what I mean by effective range. 

Modern slingshots have an effective range of approximately 25 to 55 feet (8 to 17 m). So if you’re hunting, you’ll need to be relatively close to the animal. If you’re simply using the slingshot for target practice, it can be accurate up to approximately 50 yards (46 m).

Basically, this means the effective range relies on proximity to cause damage. If you’re hunting small game, you’ll need to be fairly close. In order to penetrate the skin and body of an animal, your ammo must maintain a certain velocity. As it gets farther and farther away, the projectile’s speed decreases, eventually rendering it ineffective. 

If you’re just using your slingshot for target practice, then the distance doesn’t really matter. It’s still estimated to be accurate up to 50 yards (46 m), but this depends on the quality of the equipment you’re using and your experience. As long as your ammo is moving quickly enough by the time it reaches the target, you should be able to get plenty of practice at most ranges. 

Final Shot

Slingshots can have deadly potential. They were traditionally used as a hunting implement for small game, and many still use them in areas where guns are restricted. 

There’s no official speed record for slingshots, but they’re known to project ammunition at several hundred miles per hour, which is enough to kill an animal. 

Many factors affect slingshot speed, including how much skill you have, the ammo used, even the type of slingshot you have. 

To increase the speed of your slingshot, buy some extra strong elastic and use tin cans for target practice. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. 

For more, check out Best Size Slingshot Ammo For Hunting | By Type Of Game.

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