Thursday, November 05, 2009

Modern material culture: slings, not arrows

The pictured item is labeled as "Blue Ribbon Quality Sling Shot." Other legends on the front of the hang card are "Funtastic Classics," "Target on back!," "Adult supervision required! Do not aim at people or animals! Do not use indoors!," and "for ages 8+ years." This is copyright 2002 by Funtastics of Houston, Texas 77008, and is item number 8005, made in China, and recyclable. The item is of hollow plastic in a DayGlo-type yellow, and has a plastic sling knotted to sturdy rubber elastic bands with "T" ends each attached through a notch or slot. The package is 4.25 wide by 10 inches high. The scan is very bad and does not capture much of this. The back of the hang card has very badly rendered juvenile faces, one topped with a bow and one with a beanie. Points on the target are from 10 for the outermost ring to 50 for a bull's eye. Legends on the target side include "safety rules: 1. adult supervision is required, 2 do not aim at any living creature, 3. do not use indoors." These constitute pretty much the same counsel that appears on the front side, except that, here, "living creature" is substituted for "people or animals" and there are no exclamation points. The age-appropriate advice appears again. Also appearing on the target side is the following: "1. remove header carefully and throw away staples 2. open card sightly so that it stands up on its own (as shown in the sample below) 3. place target away from harm's way and test your skills!" The target side is more of an eye-catcher, but is not visible until the package is turned over. There are grommets, not staples. This is one of two slingshots that were impulse purchases near the POS terminals at Academy, where we regularly replenish inexpensive footgear that's no fuss and always in stock. These slingshots were very cheap, and our purchase inspired others checking out to buy them, too. Most of them were buying ammo. The bands on these have a lot of snap and will fire a pecan a good long distance, and with very decent velocity and force. They are a great deal more portable than a Wrist-Rocket, since they're a convenient size for toting in a pocket. Wrist-Rockets, of course, are very durable, so long as the surgical tubing is replaced after a long, hot summer, and no doubt they're also much safer, although they're not considered to be so safe that they can be shipped to Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, or Rhode Island. My favorite slingshot was made from the crotch of a branch, part of a leather belt, and bands from a tire's inner tube. Of course, it was confiscated for the day every time I took it to school, but all the other kids were envious, so it was worth the scolding when I went to retrieve it from the teacher's desk.


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