According to Wikipedia, slingshots did not exist prior to the invention of vulcanized rubber.

Slingshots depend on strong elastic materials, typically vulcanized natural rubber or the equivalent, and thus date no earlier than the invention of vulcanized rubber by Charles Goodyear in 1839 (patented in 1844). Source

The Bow and Arrow date back 17,000+ years in simple terms these store energy in the bow (wood) and launch a long straight projectile (Arrow) they are relatively simple to make from "Natural" elements in the wild in a survival situation.

The slingshot has an advantage over the bow, as the projectiles are much easier to acquire. Finding round rocks in stream bed, is much easier then the time and skill required to make a straight arrow.

There is also an Sling that uses rotational energy to launch a small round projectile.

The slingshot has a couple advantages over the sling: It requires less skill to use effectively, and it can be an effective stealth weapon in heavy foliage (pull and release as opposed to swinging).

While you can argue that vulcanized rubber is a "Natural" resources, it would be exceedingly difficult to create in survival situation.

Other then vulcanized rubber, what (if any) natural resources could I use to make a slingshot?

I suspect the closest you could get to a hand operated, small projectile, stored energy, survival situation built, weapon is a small cross bow

  • 2
    The simplest thing I'd think of is an atlatl spear thrower. It's just a stick and a spear.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 17:21
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    Funny you ask this @JamesJenkins I was literally just typing a question about key design points about a primitive slingshot. Something in the air? I presumed tire innertubes were available and it's more about what wood and design elements to look for. Your question comes down to what wild material can serve as a rubber band, so depending on how it goes I may post mine also.
    – cr0
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 17:27
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    I'm not sure you could find anything naturally stretchy enough, i think everything before the sling shots invention was a sling made from animal hide or cloth. But i hope someone can say otherwise because i would be curious to see as well.
    – Nate W
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 19:23
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    I think you've answered the question in your title in the negative correctly. A slingshot is pretty defined by the elastic bands. So then you have to look at other methods of storing energy without rubber and you arrive at things like a bow as you mentioned. So basically the closest answer I think is a merger of a crossbow and a slingshot. The crossbow energy storage and a slingshot pocket to hold a stone.
    – T. M.
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 11:21
  • 6
    @blacksmith37, David used the sling, which is a common 'weapon' for herds men and women all around the world and does NOT use elastic.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


As far as I am aware, the closest thing to a slingshot made without vulcanised rubber or synthetic elastomers is the pellet bow. This fires stones or pellets (as a slingshot does), but uses energy stored in bent wood rather than stretched cords.

These have been developed independently in many cultures around the world, e.g. see here: https://web.prm.ox.ac.uk/weapons/index.php/tour-by-region/oceania/asia/arms-and-armour-asia-87/index.html

  • Interesting. How do these pellets not hit the wood of the bow when being launched? Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 5:41

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