- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Gravel Shooters or Slingshots
Remembrances of my childhood...
When I was a bright boy of eight I let my ‘gravel shooter’ do the talking. After my buddies saw mine they all wanted one too, so the neighborhood guys were all eyes and ears listenin’ and watchin’ with intensity as I described the latest gadget to catch our fancy back in the summer of 1951. My dad had shown my brothers and me just how to make and use a homemade gravel shooter to put a dent in an old tin can or how to scare an old neighborhood cat caught diggin’ around in your mom’s flower bed . First of all he said the handle needed to be a good hardwood that was not only strong but tough as well. We had a couple dogwood trees and he said that was good wood if the fork was right. He said he made plenty of them when he was a youngster using dogwood, hickory and oak and I’d say he did. My dad always said that you could do anything you set your mind to it.
Did you ever have or shoot a slingshot?
If you looked hard enough...
Besides the wooden forked handle, you needed an old inner tube from a bicycle tire and a tongue out of an old shoe. If you looked hard enough you might also find a tube from a spent flat tire at a service station or a neighbor who might work on cars. You could really make a lot of gravel shooters from an old car tire tube. You would use a sharp knife or large scissors to cut two strips of rubber around ½ an inch wide by 12 to 14 inches long. Each stripe of rubber was then positioned over the right and the left forks of the handle and fastened with a piece of bailing wire twisted tightly to secure the strips to the handle the other two ends were attached to each side of an old shoe tongue making a pocket for the rocks to be hurled or shot.
You needed to ‘try it out’...
Dad said that the after you finished makin’ one you needed to ‘try it out’ on something. We had plenty of old cans in the trash for us to shoot at so we had plenty of targets. Dad also said to never aim at another person or even the little birds because the stones traveled at a fast speed and could kill a little bird and maybe put an eye out so we always promised him that we would not shot at birds or people. Some boys got to callin’ them sling shots, but I don’t guess it mattered much just what you called them as long as they did the job and those that dad showed us how to make stood the test. He said the smooth stones were the best to use and I tried my best to keep my left side pocket of my overalls full of rocks I had already selected. I kept my shootin’ marbles in the right side pocket.