| SLINGSHOT SIGHTS
There are two ways to hit a target when shooting with a slingshot. “You can either
shoot “instinctively” or you can use some sort of “aiming” system. Shooting
instinctively means shooting without aiming. Or, at least, not consciously aiming.
Quite probably, there is some part of the brain that is registering where the bands
are and where the slingshot is, in relation to the target when the pouch is released.
In any case, no sight is used in the aiming process.
Instinctive shooting can be very accurate but is usually not as accurate as shooting
with a sight. There are exceptions to this rule. Jay Schott is an instinctive shooter
and is one of the most accurate shooters I know.
Shooting instinctively is much less complicated than shooting with a sight. By a
sight, I mean any reference point on the slingshot, or the sling hand, that is used for
the purpose of aligning the eye, sight, and target. If a suitable reference point is not
available, on the slingshot, an actual sight can be attached to the sling.
Using a sight is advantageous when shooting with several different slingshots each
having a different configuration and draw force. Once the sight is set for a specific
slingshot, with specific bands, it will shoot accurately without consciously having
to adjust aim for draw force. Transitioning from a target slingshot with weak
bands to a hunting slingshot with strong bands is not a problem when a sight is
When using a sight many variables complicate the aiming process. Some of these
variables include slingshot cant angle, anchor point, handedness, dominant eye,
head turn, head tilt, and even head size and shape.
We will examine two different types of sight shooting techniques. The difference
is in where the anchor point is in relation to the dominant eye.
(ANCHOR POINT AND DOMINANT EYE ARE ON THE SAME
SIDE OF THE FACE)
With this system the anchor point is on the same side of the face as the dominant
eye. For example, the pouch is pulled with the right hand, to the right side of the
face, under the right eye. This is by far the most common technique used when an
aiming system is employed. (In the following discussion, it will be assumed that
the shooter is right handed and right eye dominant.)
If the slingshot is held horizontally (cant angle of 90 degrees) the top of the top
fork can be used as a sight. The pouch is pulled with the dominant hand (right
hand) to some anchor point under the dominant eye (right eye). The line of sight is
aligned with a point on the fork and the target. This technique works reasonably
well as long as the same slingshot is always used. If a slingshot with a different
fork width or different band strength is used, this aiming technique will not work
Assume that when sighting with the top of the fork the projectile hits the bull’s eye
perfectly at a distance of 10 meters. To hit a target that is farther away the
slingshot must be raised up, and in doing so, the target is obscured by the fork and
bands. The solution is to pick out an object that is the appropriate distance above
the target and aim at it.
The problem of obscuring the target with the bands could be alleviated by canting
the slingshot at some angle less than 90 degrees. But then the sight point would be
somewhere above and between the two forks. A sight can’t be mounted in that area
because it would interfere with the bands and projectile during the shot.
(ANCHOR POINT AND DOMINANT EYE ARE ON OPPOSITE
SIDES OF THE FACE)
In the analysis of this system we will assume the shooter is right handed and right
eye dominant. The shooter will hold the slingshot in the right hand and draw the
pouch to the left side of the mouth.
This system has advantages as well as disadvantages. First the advantages:
The hand that holds the slingshot does the aim adjusting (providing you use an
anchor point). If you are right handed you have much better control of the aim
adjustments by holding the slingshot in your right hand. This is a distinct advantage.
If you have an anchor point on the left side of your face, and aim with your right
eye, a sight can be mounted on the right side of the slingshot which means that the
forks will not interfere with the projectile or your line of aim. If the slingshot is
canted to the left about 45 to 50 degrees, the line-of-aim is conveniently located to
the right of the fork. A sight installed in this position can be adjusted for any
distance because there are no obstructions in this area.
So far this “opposite-side” system looks very good. But, there are some negatives:
Because the line-of-aim is not the same as the projectile’s path there is a problem
with “convergence”. Convergence is where the line-of-aim is some distance away
from the path of the projectile. When the slingshot sight is set for a specific
distance the line-of-aim and path of the projectile meet (or converge) at the target.
At any other distance, the sight will be inaccurate. The farther the line-of-aim is,
from the path of the projectile, the greater the problem of convergence.
Let’s analyze an example situation, assume the eye is 3 inches to the right of the
anchor point. Let us further assume that the sight is set perfectly for a distance of
10 meters (line-of-aim and projectile’s path converge at 10 meters). If you shoot at
a target 5 meters away you will miss by 1 ½ inch to the left, a target 20 meters
away will be missed 3 inches to the right, a target 40 meters away will be missed
9 inches to the right.
What can be done to alleviate the convergence problem? The easiest solution
would be to just allow for it when aiming, that is when shooting at 20 meters, aim
3 inches to the left; when shooting at 40 meters, aim 9 inches to the left. Another
solution would be to design a sight that would compensate for convergence. But
that would require a different design for every individual (anchor to eye is
different for every individual). The third solution would be to always aim 3 inches
to the right of the bull’s-eye regardless of distance.
There are other problems with this system in addition to convergence. This point
was brought to bear when my cousin (who is a good instinctive shooter) asked to
shoot my slingshot. I explained how to get the proper cant angle, where to anchor
the pouch, which eye to aim with, and how to align the fiber-optic sight on the
target. He obediently followed my instructions but he just could not release the
pouch. He argued that he could tell that he wasn't going to come close to hitting the
target using my system. I implored him to shoot because I was confident that my
system works. He shot and missed the target by a mile. My immediate reaction
was to think he was somehow not following my instructions. After experiencing
the same problem with other shooters I realized the problem was with my sighting
system and not with the shooters. I micro examined every aspect of my aiming
system and in so doing I discovered the problem was right in front of my nose (so
The problem is that every individual has a differently shaped face; consequently
the horizontal and vertical distance from the anchor point to the eye is different for
everyone. (The distances between various points on the face are what allow face
recognition software to find a particular individual in a crowd of thousands.) So
what does all this mean? It means that when using the “opposite-aiming” system
each individual must set the sight for his or her own face shape.
There is one more problem common to all slingshot aiming systems. It is the
orientation of the head in relation to the direction of the shot. (I will call this
“facing angle”.) If the “facing angle” is not the same for every shot the target will
be missed. This is because the eye acts as a rear sight and any change in facing
angle (turn of the head) will change the position of the rear sight (eye) in relation
to the orientation of the slingshot. A shift in eye position of only ¼ inch will cause
an error of about 5 inches at a target 20 meters away.
There are some shooters that can automatically assume the same facing angel for
shot after shot without any problem. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them; I have
been shooting slingshots for more years than I care to think about and I still have a
problem assuming the exact same facing angle for every shot. That’s why I
developed a mechanical solution to the problem.
Here is how you too can resolve the problem: Punch a 1/16 inch hole in the center
of a ½ inch piece of black electrician’s tape. Stick the tape onto the lens of a pair
of glasses so that you can see the target, through the hole in the tape, when you
assume a comfortable facing angle. Do the same to the other lens.
Peep-hole glasses set for a facing angle of 40 degrees.
When you shoot, you won’t be able to see the target unless you consistently assume
the proper facing angle. And there is another advantage to using the peep-hole
glasses. It has long been established that looking through a peep hole makes it
easier to focus both on the sight and the target at the same time.
As an exercise, measure your facing angle; the process of measuring will help you
focus on this important aspect of your shooting stance.