Building a catapult, whether for educational purposes or for sport, involves understanding basic physics and the mechanics of the catapult. One crucial aspect is the choice of elastic. Heavy elastics, like the UltraPult Elastics, are ideal for certain catapults, such as the Gardner UltraPult, and are especially suited for carp fishing. The type of fishing you’re doing significantly influences the choice of elastic. For instance, when float fishing at a distance of 20 yards, a thinner elastic with more stretch is preferable as it can fire out small baits with greater accuracy compared to a large catapult with heavy elastic.
However, it’s important to note that elastics are subject to wear and tear due to constant use and exposure to UV light, necessitating periodic replacement. Modern catapults, especially those used for hunting, have evolved from simple wooden Y-shaped sticks with elastic bands to more sophisticated designs featuring aluminum alloys, additional balancers, and even laser sighting aids.
For a simple DIY catapult project, you can use materials like popsicle sticks, rubber bands, or loom bands. To build momentum in the launching arm, affix an elastic cord or strong elastic as shown in the accompanying picture. You can experiment with launching different small objects to understand the dynamics of the catapult.
When it comes to hunting catapults, today’s versions are much more effective and lethal when used correctly. They can achieve impressive accuracy over greater distances than the wooden toys of yesteryear. For those interested in building their own, a step-by-step STEM guide suggests bundling about five popsicle sticks with clips or rubber bands at both ends.
In practice, one partner in a pair should hold the catapult flat on the table, while the other person operates the ‘beak’ formed by the double stick. Elastic replacements, such as the YAAVAAW Flat Slingshot Rubber Bands or the Chihutown 12 Pieces Slingshot Flat Rubber Bands, offer flexibility and durability. These bands are particularly suitable for hunting catapults, providing the necessary stretch and resistance.
When selecting a catapult elastic, consider avoiding modern tube elastics and opt for square or flat elastics instead. These offer better performance and durability. Products like the Natural Latex Rubber Band and various replacement elastics are available for different types of catapults, including those used in fitness, fishing, and outdoor shooting games.
Lastly, catapult mechanics is not just about launching objects. It’s also a great way to learn about energy transformation, from potential to kinetic, and energy transfer, from the catapult arm to the projectile.