Ballistics, as defined by Wikipedia, is the science of mechanics that deals with the flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles, especially bullets, gravity bombs, rockets, or the like; the science or art of designing and accelerating projectiles so as to achieve a desired performance.
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When my son became interested in shooting I began looking for safe ways for him to express his interest ballistics.
Sling Shot Man inspired my son to make and use sling shots. We do not have a lot room between us and the neighbors so allowing rocks for ammunition was not practical during his younger years. To keep this activity safe, ammunition was made with a small pebble wrapped with fabric or plastic bags for padding.
If you try this, I recommend choosing colors that contrasts with grass, dirt or cement so they are easier to find. What size pebble and fabric is based on what is comfortable to hold in a sling shot. I wadded up different dimensions for my son to discover his favorite size. The finished product is made by rolling fabric into a tube shape, sliding a pebble into the middle, and tying a knot to secure it. It looks like a flying bug if you fringe the leftover fabric.
We used enough fabric to make it safe to do target practice indoors without having to be concerned about a window breaking. We use empty peanut butter jars stacked vertically for shooting competitions. This was a fun activity for our whole family and his friends.
Now that he is older he has permission to use rocks for ammunition and gophers for targets. I will be thrilled when he finally gets one. So far, he hasn’t been interested in live targets. That’s fine with me as long as he masters the practical art of gopher trapping. Gophers must GO!
We have done a lot projectile projects. How could we not? My son is bonkers for ballistics. My search for “Ballistics” found 35 titles in Inland Library Network. I will keep adding resources here as I find them. Right now I am more interested in the physics of ballistics.
My all-time favorite is “Backyard Ballistics.” These also caught my interest:
- Rainbows, curve balls, and other wonders of the natural world explained by Ira Flatow  – a physics explanation
- From the Earth to the moon [sound recording] by Jules Verne  – Following the involvement of the Gun Club in the Civil War, the members redirect their energies and knowledge of ballistics in order to put an American on the moon.