Why you should care

Because Goliaths are around every corner.

It’s totally a Norman Rockwell thing. Or maybe just a bit of early Americana, with a towheaded boy in overalls, the telltale Y shape of a slingshot sticking out of his back pocket. Not getting into trouble, not fleeing from said trouble, but just … at the ready. A slingshot for, if you were a country kid, shooting game or shooting at it, and if you were a city kid? Putting out windows and more than likely your brother or sister’s eye. All of which later gave way to other self-defense pursuits and interests, some benign — note the Bruce Lee-inspired martial arts boom — and some not so benign: real guns, real bullets.

So it’s a bit of counterintuitive genius that someone would rethink it. Sort of like rethinking the shoe. But Shawn Phillips, president of the Pocket Shot, did just that. Gone is the iconic Y shape. It’s replaced instead with a circular piece of orange plastic — think: the plastic base of an old-style flashlight — and, well, that’s it really. Thus was born the world’s first circular slingshot according to Phillips.

No rubber bands laced through leather pouches where you’d place your rocks, ball bearings or other desired projectiles. Nope, just the plastic ring and, inside of it, a rubber sleeve that when pinched and pulled back, by almost as much as 4 feet by unofficial estimates, will let fly when let go, propelling anything that can be dropped into the rubber sack hard and fast enough that ball bearings are shooting through soda cans and probably any window of your choosing — and, with a small plastic adapter, small arrows through plywood and/or apples on the head of any of your hapless sons.

It’s, in short, great and dangerous in equal measure. Which is probably why it comes with a page-long disclaimer. “Blowguns, zip guns, BB guns, slingshots — we had it all. Real guns, too. Mostly lightweight .22 rifles,” says longtime Ukiah, California, resident Chris Holden. Mostly for target shooting, but Holden, who grew up in the woods in an A-frame house the family built themselves, also shot game. “But using things that are quiet like the Pocket Shot are just much nicer for lots of reasons,” he says. And the reality of it was, carrying much extra on long hikes was very much of a drag. The Pocket Shot actually fits in your pocket. And if you’re shooting ball bearings, they’ll fit in your other pocket. All for under $30.

“We’re just geeks who haven’t quite outgrown that cool kid thing of wanting to knock things down from far away,” says Phillips, in full disregard of oodles of parents hoping their kids make it to adulthood with not one but two functioning eyes. “But, yeah, caution is urged.”

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