Goliath of Gath, the great Philistine warrior, was either 6-foot-9 or 9-foot-9, depending on whether you agree with the Dead Sea Scrolls text or the Masoretic text of I Samuel.
One way or the other, David’s slingshot was big enough to do him in. Boys have been carrying them ever since, from forked sticks to the Wrist Rocket-class slingshots that can pack a punch with a ball bearing in the pouch.
Slingshots entered the big-game archery world early in the 2000s when John “Chief AJ” Huffer of Tuscola, Ill., put together a slingshot strong enough to take deer, turkeys and other big-game animals with broadhead-tipped arrows of standard size.
The Chief AJ Elite Slingbow (www.chiefaj.com) is a beefed-up version of the Wrist Rocket, with power bands of pure extruded rubber made in Akron, Ohio, that allow draw weights of more than 40 pounds with full-sized arrows and standard broadheads.
“You can adjust the strength of the Slingbow by the size and length of the rubber,” said Tony Reaves of South Boston, Va., a partner in Huffer’s business.
Reaves, who has taken deer and turkeys with his slingbow, stumbled onto them one day about five years ago when a deer hunt wasn’t going so well.
“I was sitting in a stand on a slow day, and I was googling on my cell pone and learned about them,” he said. “I got one, went hunting with one and killed a deer, and I’ve been addicted to them ever since.”
Reaves, who joined forces with Huffer two years ago, shoots a slingbow equipped with a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest. He said he tries to limits his shots on big game to around 20 yards, but has taken deer out to 30 yards, and knows of one hunter who took a wild hog at 35 yards with a slingbow. Aiming is totally instinctive, Reaves said, the way many archers who use longbows or recurves aim.
Slingbows are great tools for bowfishing, because shots are rarely longer than 10 yards, shot opportunities are often very quick, perfect for an instinctive shooter, and bowfishing reels can be easily attached.
“I think you need 40 to 50 pounds (draw weight),” Reeves said. “I know youth and women’s models aren’t that heavy, but I think you need that to get penetration.”
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission does not specifically address slingbows in its regulations guide, but Enforcement Division officials have responded to questions by declaring them legal for all game animals. South Carolina allows them for small game and varmints, but not for big game. An S.C. Department of Natural Resource spokesman said slingbows are not prohibited for bowfishing.