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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Making slingshots now made me remember all of the good times i had with my grandfather. He was the one who gave me my first one when i was 5 years old. It was a natural guava woood fork as it was the best kind he had said. It had bands bought from the local flea market and rounded beach stones for ammo. Being 5 then i had terrible accuracy and those beach stones,how rounded they may have seemed did not help a bit. It was the 80's then so steel balls was expensive and really hard to find. But my grandpa had a secret to help my shooting he said. " clay ammo" very well rounded and hard just like stones. This is how he taught me to make them. Which would be better put to use in this forum why i now would like to share his secret..

Clay in itself was easy to get but the ones that are easy get when molded was too soft and would lose shape when dried in the sun. He taught me his secret way as he said and it was getting them from termite mounds which was pretty adventurous for a five year old who had experinced a bite or two from ants the size of rice grains. Only in my later years did i realize the science and ingenuity of yhe method.

This is how he taught me to do it.

First you find a good live termite mound the bigger the better and get a pick or any kind of digging tool to get into the termite mound. Dont underestimate these mounds they are friggin hard to get into. Hence the quality of the clay you get from them. Then start digging a big hole in one. make the hole big but not too big as to destroy the mound. The bigger the hole the more clay you get. Dig until termites come out. Then make the hole bigger. Careful with the termites they have a pretty mean sting and they are the size of monsters when you are five. Lol.

Once you make a sizeable hole Leave the hole overnight and wake up very early before your chickens wake up and dig up the hole before you do. Now is the tricky part you have to get the clay that the termites have wet during the night this is tricky cause you have to get the clay while trying to avoid the termites from biting you which is close to impossible when you are five so be prepared to take a few for the team. The hole is going to be kept open until you let the termites close it so you can come back the next following mornings and get some more. Then what you do is take the fresh clay and start rolling the size of ammo you want picking out the termites as you go on and dry them in the sun. A whole day drying is enough to harden your ammo to use the next day. The next morning you wake up very early and repeat the process gathering clay and rolling and drying all over again till you have enough ammo to fill a small bucket which is enough to last a 5 year old two days worth of shooting. Hehehehe.

Now the science behind all the termite stings why it was worth it..

Now that you have ammo that is almost perfectly spherical and uniform in size will your shooting improve? Yes!! And you add the fact that your clay ammo is as hard as stones and do not crumble when you press into it inside the pouch to a five year old is nothing short of a miracle. Uniform shape and weight of the ammo made adjusting each shot easier and made it more accurate at a farther distance. The clay is harder with this method as opposed to just finding already wet termiteless clay because the termites use their saliva to wet the soil to make the clay and repair their damaged home. Their saliva has a very good adhesive property hence the difficulty in breaking into the termite mound and hardness of the ammo made from the harvested clay.

Hope this is of help to you guys who like shooting clay. It was nice being able to share this to everyone. Happy shooting.. keep the target in sight and dont let the termites bite..
 

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Awesome story and really cool to hear how that knowledge was passed down the generations. Is there a thread for people to share their story about how they learned about slingshots as a kid? If not, there should be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Awesome story and really cool to hear how that knowledge was passed down the generations. Is there a thread for people to share their story about how they learned about slingshots as a kid? If not, there should be.
Thanks sherman.. most of these type of stories i find here in the general slingshot discussion thread and some in slingshot hunting.. do some backreading on them. There a lot of great stories you can find..

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That's sounds pretty neat.

:thumbsup:
 
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Fascinating story and technique. I enjoyed reading it. I didn't even know that terminates would bite if you disturbed them.

I experimented with clay ammo just briefly. Hand-rolling is a very time-consuming process. I wasn't baking my ammo. I really wanted to avoid that extra step if possible. The marble-size balls were surprisingly hardy enough to punch through soft aluminum cans and not break apart. I was also able to use them more than once. But not strong enough to punch through soup cans without breaking.

The stuff I was playing with is Activa Blackjack stoneware clay -mined locally in Texas. Very fine, silky texture with good body. Seemed to have a natural sculptural plasticity to it. Perhaps this is what makes the difference in strength and cohesion properties for potential ammo use.

But Stagecraft... It's ok to admit. You were having super-duper FUN playing war games with termites and watching them shake their angry little fists at you. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Fascinating story and technique. I enjoyed reading it. I didn't even know that terminates would bite if you disturbed them.

I experimented with clay ammo just briefly. Hand-rolling is a very time-consuming process. I wasn't baking my ammo. I really wanted to avoid that extra step if possible. The marble-size balls were surprisingly hardy enough to punch through soft aluminum cans and not break apart. I was also able to use them more than once. But not strong enough to punch through soup cans without breaking.

The stuff I was playing with is Activa Blackjack stoneware clay -mined locally in Texas. Very fine, silky texture with good body. Seemed to have a natural sculptural plasticity to it. Perhaps this is what makes the difference in strength and cohesion properties for potential ammo use.

But Stagecraft... It's ok to admit. You were having super-duper FUN playing war games with termites and watching them shake their angry little fists at you.
Hehehe.. the termites have soldiers that protect their home just like ant colonies.. those are the ones that bite.. we also have stoneware clay here but getting them is far more difficult than digging a hole in a termite mound and far less fun. Lol.. and rolling them one by one getting them perfectly round is the perfect job for a five year old..

but yes stoneware clay is way way better... when fired in a kiln they take on a glass like quality and hardness comparable to real beach stones.. clay for terra cota pots are also good.

But as you grow old marbles and steel balls get much cheaper and the bites from termites get much more troublesome.. but after picking up the slingshot again a few months ago after more than 15 years i found out..

"The fun of shooting never gets old"

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Great post! Clay ammo is one of my favorites for shooting in the yard since I don't have to worry about steel or rocks in the grass. I've made mine from an air dry clay from the craft section. Great for backyard target and chipmunk control.

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I tried clay and have mixed emotions. That I bought from Dankung is amongst my favourite ammo. The earlier clay was cheaper than what the sell now. Fortunately I haven't had to resupply as I stocked up well. The earlier, and I assume is still the same, shattered on impacting a hard surface making it safe in an urbane environment. I can shoot at a window pane with no damage to the window. I tried to make some and ordered clay from Amazon. Evidently I ordered the wrong clay. That made balls as hard as a rock, which is great for those wanting hard ammo. As hard as those balls were they were lighter for their size than I normally shoot, something that I didn't like. When I exhaust my current supply I think that I'll reorder from Dankkung. They work great for pest control and ricochets are none existent.
 

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If you want more cohesion in your clay mix for harder ammo, you can also mix in some egg white. Once thoroughly dried it's an excellent adhesive that glues the clay particles together. Eggs in the cement mix is the main reason the Colosseum is still standing, according to my highschool history teacher.
And eggs aren't nearly as nasty as angry termites ????
 

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I looked at the the Dankung website. Convenience comes at a price. A quantity of 20 pottery clay balls (slingshot ammo) is listed for $4.08 at their website.

Thanks for the headsup, Gopher. I'm not familiar with air-drying clays and their strength properties. But sounds pretty good. I may try one of those brands to see how it compares with Blackjack high-fire clay that I've used. Perhaps a fun rainy-weekend project!!

The clay I used dries slow and hard. But since I don't bake it, if left on the ground after a shooting session, the clay will dissolve and return itself to the earth with a good rain. No environmental impact since it's non-toxic.

If anyone is interested, Blick Art has a list of clay materials -air drying and firing. And a product description for each clay item.

4 or 5-lb bags are reasonably priced and makes a lot of clay balls in whatever size you prefer. I formed my spheres to weigh the same as marbles. I personally liked the clay better. No glass-fragment worries for pets or wildlife during target practice.

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I tried clay and have mixed emotions. That I bought from Dankung is amongst my favourite ammo. The earlier clay was cheaper than what the sell now. Fortunately I haven't had to resupply as I stocked up well. The earlier, and I assume is still the same, shattered on impacting a hard surface making it safe in an urbane environment. I can shoot at a window pane with no damage to the window. I tried to make some and ordered clay from Amazon. Evidently I ordered the wrong clay. That made balls as hard as a rock, which is great for those wanting hard ammo. As hard as those balls were they were lighter for their size than I normally shoot, something that I didn't like. When I exhaust my current supply I think that I'll reorder from Dankkung. They work great for pest control and ricochets are none existent.
If you want the clay more "shatter'i" mix some sand with it
Gives some more wait and takes a bit of the long lasting out
Cheers
 
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