Shooting a Rubber Band in a Curved Path

Get some real distance when shooting a rubber band. Improved technique means that the rubber band spins like a flat disk when flying (achieving lift?), rather than tumbling aimlessly (at best achieving ballistic flight) as per other methods. I generally achieve 50% increased distance. As an added bonus, the rubber band follows a curved trajectory (like a curveball) -- you can hit targets around corners.

The following instructions assume you'll be firing right-handed. Feel free to swap left for right and vice-versa if you'd prefer to shoot left-handed.

The picture below *isn't* the technique. It's just a step along the way.

The movie shows the whole process. You might learn everything just from watching it, but I hope you'll read the instructions anyway.

Legalese: This instructable is for educational purposes only. Use of the techniques taught in this instructable is at the sole risk of the user, and provider is in now way responsible for its use.

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Step 1: Materials

You need a rubber band and your hands.

I prefer a rubber band about 1/8 inch wide and 3-1/2 inches long. I prefer the tan colored ones due to size, stretch and a slight camouflage advantage in office environments.

OK, the illustrations use a red rubber band, but it's what I had. Camouflage isn't everything.

Consider buying a big bag of them. More about that later.

Nothing else. No clumsy guns, nothing made out of rulers and paper clips. After you shoot, your hands are empty -- you're clean.

Step 2: First Stretch

Hook the rubber band over the outstretched index finger of your left hand. Hook the middle finger of your right hand down through rubber band and pull back.

So far, this looks like a trivial variation of the "thumb and index finger" technique. But we're not done.

Step 3: Second Stretch. Ready.

Now, reach forward with your thumb and slip it up through the loop made in the rubber band in step 2. Pull the rubber band back with your thumb.

Notice that the left side of the rubber band is much tighter than the right side. This is important. It means that when you let go, the rubber band will spin clockwise (as viewed from above). Because of the spinning, the rubber band will assume a circular shape, and fly, rather than flopping around as it moves forward.

Hold that position. You're now ready.

Step 4: Aim

Take aim at your target. Note that, due to spin, the rubber band will curve somewhat to the right, so aim a bit left of your target.

Avoid aiming at people's heads -- you don't want to put an eye out. It's also better if they're looking away. Also, you gain a measure of plausible deniability if there are other people in the room; you can shift the blame.

You can sight over your thumb and the extended index finger (like using gun sights). Or just shoot from the hip.

Step 5: Fire

Lower your right thumb smoothly until the rubber band leaves it. In fact, continue lowering until after it leaves, to ensure no jerking as the rubber band leaves your hands. This is called followthrough, a technique used in sports involving well-executed throws.

Listen to it fly. You hear a whoosh of a flying object, rather than the usual nothing of a less-carefully-fired tumbling projectile.

Watch it fly. It curves to the right.

Watch it fly. I often see them rise as they fly -- we're generating lift.

Step 6: Ponder

Now, think of what you have.

1. Perhaps 50% more range. Given the same ammunition, you can hit an opponent who can't hit you back unless he runs faster than you do. Asymmetric battles are really interesting (ask the DOD).

2. A curve. You can hit people who think they're hiding. And they can't hit you if you're hiding unless they've learned this technique. Isn't asymmetry fun?

3. A sound. While the whoosh can give you away (your opponent can duck if he's quick), it also gives you a psychological edge. It's unnerving, knowing something's coming, that it's coming fast, with no hope but to maybe duck in the right direction.

This adds up to a serious psychological edge. Use that edge in your next rubber band war. It's a whole new game.

Read Sun Tsu. Take no prisoners.

Step 7: Practice

Get a big bag of rubber bands, all the same size, and shoot a bunch at home. The big bag means you'll spend more focused time shooting and be less interrupted with picking them up (that is, if your aim is any good at all).

Always pull back the same way, and (optimally) with a consistent size of rubber band, so you can learn to aim and shoot consistently.

Get some targets and practice. A row of paper cups standing in a row is good. If you can hit them, hitting larger targets is easy. Practice hitting them from a variety of distances, so you can understand how to compensate for the curving effect.

Think about hitting moving targets. It's hard to find cooperative living, moving targets to practice on (and, no, the cat isn't a cooperative target), so think about some dead, moving targets, maybe some cups sitting on a turntable of an old-fashioned record player. Or go high-tech with a robotic target. Maybe somebody throws paper airplanes or clay targets? PULL!

Practice using the curving path to hit targets around corners. Maybe a target you can hear the rubber band striking, so you know that you hit it.

Practice popping out from behind a desk and firing. Remember, when you're in the line of fire is not the time to be trying to learn this stuff. It has to be second nature.

Remember to pick up the rubber bands so you don't get in trouble with She/He Who Must Be Obeyed (Mom, Dad, spouse, boss, whoever). We wouldn't want you to get in any trouble. We especially don't want to start any unintended conflicts we're not prepared for. (Wait for intended conflicts. Heh heh heh).

Step 8: Prepare

With this newfound power, you'll want to be ready. Go and get a really big bag of rubber bands, so you'll be ready. Keep them in a bottom drawer of your desk, so that the next time the projectiles fly, you can hit the floor, grab ammo, and come up shooting.

Pass some rubber bands out at the office so you have armed opponents. On second thought, shoot somebody with them. They'll come back.

And you'll be ready.

(Be careful who you shoot. It's best to shoot at worthy opponents, rather than victims. Or responsible individuals. Or bosses. If people want to be left out, it is their right to not participate. And with such people, you really don't want to put an eye out.)

You may want to pick up some eye protection. This can be dangerous. As Mother always said, "You'll put an eye out!" And I'm not responsible if you put an eye out. You have been warned.

Legalese: This instructable is for educational purposes only. Use of the techniques taught in this instructable is at the sole risk of the user, and provider is in now way responsible for its use.

Step 9: Credit, Parting Shots

I learned this technique from an office mate over 20 years ago. Unfortunately, his name escapes me, so I can't give him credit. He was a fine aerodynamicist, and an excellent shot (ouch, that *still* hurts).

All I can take credit for is the writing, and for recognizing the psychology of this technique.

If you know who to credit for this technique, please let me know, so I can thank him for many years of pleasure from knowing how to do a thing well, and the opportunity to strike fast, hard, from out of range.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable. Please leave feedback.

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    12 Discussions


    11 years ago

    Hey, this is a great instructable and is very informative. Just one thing is missing... pictures! It really helps a lot when trying to follow directions so you should consider taking some photographs. Once you do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks! Thanks for the cool instructable and we hope to publish this soon!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry to hear that. Can you describe how the "shot in the face" incidents occurred? Maybe I can add a couple of comments about safety.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Well done, a nicely written instructable. A very good technique. Goes from one end of my house to the other.

    1 reply

    I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to, but this is a way to get some serious distance and precision with a rubber band.