This is a tutorial designed to work in conjunction with this instructable, and outlines the simple process for making your own exercise/surgical tubing bands, that are designed to be fired with a RBG or Rubber Band Gun for LARP or hobby purposes.
If you're looking for information on how to make your own RBG, or more information on what LARP is, check out the link!
- Exercise or Surgical tubing. Here we're using the Allcare brand Blue, though green is perfectly fine if you want a softer draw. Clark Rubber sell them unbranded. Green or Blue are the only two kinds you want to use, and are generally the only two accepted bands here within LARP in Australia.
- Paracord thin enough to fit inside the tubing. You will be balling the ends up a little with fire, so ensure it's a little thinner than the inside diameter of the surgical tubing.
- Builders cord, or any other thin, synthetic cord. Cord for blinds or curtains also works.
- Pliers. Two pairs of pliers are ideal. They'll help get good, tight knots.
- Fire. A candle will do in a pinch, though a small buntane torch is ideal.
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Step 1: Measuring the Band
In order to make bands, you'll need to have your RBG completed and in front of you, or otherwise know the draw length - that is the length between the trigger release, and the tip of your barrel. It will ALWAYS be easier to make bands for a finished RBG.
So there are two ways to make your bands - maths and feel.
The most common rule across most Australian LARPS is that, at rest, the band should be a minimum or 1/3rd the length of the draw (between the barrel tip and trigger release). This means you measure your barrel, divide by 3 and multiply by 2 to get the length of your band.
The second method is a lot less accurate, but can be a lot more intuitive. As you can see by the pictures I simply curve over the band and pull it back for a draw weight I find comfortable. I do ensure that this is still greater than 1/3rd the draw length, but this second method ensures that you have a band with a draw that you can comfortably load.
Some people might find that, for whatever reason (be it comfort, injury or disability, etc), they prefer an easier draw, and the first method doesn't take this into account.
As a rule of thumb, the harder the draw or the tighter the band, the further it will fly and the harder it'll hit. If you've never been hit by a band before, I highly recommend having someone shoot you, or shooting yourself in the leg from a reasonable distance so you know what you're firing at other people.
Step 2: Cutting Your Bands
When you cut your tubing, ensure your ends are straight. Here you can see I have my band, a piece of paracord and two very long pieces of builders cord.
These are the materials that go into each band.
Step 3: First Step
Now using your preferred choice of flame (I use a small butane torch on low), melt the ends of the paracord into small bulbs. You can cool them quickly by dipping the ends into a bowl of water, and then setting them aside.
Generally, I'll batch make my bands, so I'll complete this step first for as many bands as I need, and then set them aside. That gives them further time to cool and harden.
Try and keep a uniform shape to the bulbs, and avoid any sharp ends, as these will be forced into the band.
Step 4: Insertion
Here you can see how you create the base structure of the band.
Insert the paracord into both ends until you have a ring. Feel free to use a screwdriver, chopstick or handy bodkin arrow head to achieve this. You'll want to insert it roughly 2-3cm into the tubing, enough to be able to comfortably tie a knot between the bulb inside, and the end of the tubing.
If you're not certain, have a look at the following pics.
Step 5: Tying, Tying, Tying
So, feel the tubing and work out where the bulk sits inside. As per the pictures, you want to tie between the bulb and the end of the tubing. The knot is there to prevent the paracord coming out.
Take the builders cord, tie a knot, tighten. Flip the piece over, tie another knot, tighten, flip once more, tie the final knot, tighten. Just a standard half knot will do the job.
You're going to want to use those pliers to pull the knot as tight as you can get it before flipping. We tried hand tightening it before, but it simply doesn't do the job before the cord cuts into your hand.
Cut off the excess and lightly melt the remaining ends of the cord using a lighter. I also go along and press down on the cord after passing the flame over it to keep it all stuck in.
Never, ever use cable ties for this part! It may seem easier and like a quick option, but they have a massive potential to snap and take out an eye, or break skin when the band hits someone. Some LARPs DO allow it, but this way will always be safer and more player-friendly. They'll also last a lot longer.
Step 6: And You're Done
Give your band a test fire!
As you can see in the picture above, the paracord is supported by a knot on either end. Sometimes you might find that, despite all best efforts, some bands just don't want to hold, so always give them a bit of a stretch after you finish.
Generally speaking, we load our bands by putting the tubing in the barrel notch, and then pulling the paracord over the release pin. We find that the bands wear a lot longer if the paracord is dealing with the friction of a metal pin, not the rubber.
When loading, always remember to treat your RBG as you would any other firearm - load it pointed down, never load it pointed at yours, or anyone else's face, and always load so, if the band does come free, it shoots away from you. RBGs are heaps of fun, but can be dangerous of you're reckless with them.
Always make sure you store your bands away from direct sunlight and they'll last you ages, but do remember that bands are ultimately a consumable item, and it's not unusual to have to repair or remake them, depending on how much they're used.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments or message me directly!