I wanted to know what rubber is the best, as in how thick and what shape and length is the best and why
I am really interested to see what is best, and why dose no one use square rubber any more?
Please post images of what you are useing aswell
You're going to get a lot of responses that either boil down to "it depends" or say something definite but get contradicted in short order. That's because it does depend on many factors such as how strong you are, whether you need power for hunting, whether velocity and consistency are a trump factor, the kind of ammo your shooting, range, etc. When you get to the point where you're measuring band with a micrometer, you've reached the bleeding edge and from then on, it's all about educated compromise and optimum combination of attributes for your needs.
Most people agree that the best type of rubber is 100% latex, because it gives great elongation, great resilience on contraction and has a smooth power delivery. A smooth finish results in less abrasion and longer band life. Some people use latex doped with fillers and other modifying agents and others opt for synthetics, but most people will shoot 100% natural latex if they can. There is some voodoo about colours. Some people want no colouring agent and others
believe red is the least negative, but honestly it doesn't really matter.
Square rubber works. So do rounds, tubes, bands and basically almost any cross section. However, just about everyone agrees that thinner rubber that has a high ratio of surface to insides shoot faster. So, to get more speed and energy from a band of the same draw strength, shooters have started using thinner rubber. How thin? Well 0.50mm (.002") to 0.75mm (.003") is in the ballpark for what shoots fast but holds together. You can go thinner or thicker, but this works for me. Any thinner and you'll be changing bands very frequently and any thicker and performance will drop a little, just noticeably.
Given that very thin rubber tends to tear from the edges, one solution is not to have any edges, and use a tube. Tubes are presently harder for me to obtain and very few tubes are available as thin as I'd like and none in quite the taper profile that I want, so I stick to bands. I like tubes and would shoot them otherwise. There's been a lot of debate on the forums between band groupies and tube zealots but all of them want thin walls. Only people with huge surplusses of muscle power should shoot thick tubes like you get on the typical wrist-braced slingshot, or heaven forbid harpoon gun elastic. Harpoon gun elastic is only for when you want a simple bandset to fire very heavy projectiles, like a baseball, full soda can, or basically thrust a harpoon through the water and out the other side of a big fish. It has thrust but is inefficient at generating velocity. If you want more thrust but without losing efficiency, then add more thin tubes or bands. It's not unusual to see thin tube slingshots with 6 bands per side and having 2 stacked flat bands per side is commonplace.
You also asked about how the bands should taper. Again, you first need to be aware of the speed vs wear compromise. First, the good news: tapered bands are known to be faster. Tapers smooth out the draw, and reduce the weight of the back part of the bandset that must travel the furthest. The bad news is that bands tend to tear where they stretch most and two of those places are the ends of the bands. Here the stretching is intensified and so is the friction. If you taper your bands from being fat at the forks to thin at the pouch, then the weakest part of your band coincides with the place where most bands fail. Mild tapers have little impact on either speed or longevity, but really aggressive tapers on thin bands are going to lead to a very short band life. Few people would be comfortable with a taper of over 50%. I would start with about 30% and if the bands last, try for a bit more off, and if they don't then cut them a little wider.
Let me sum it up by saying it's like deciding between a top fuel dragster and a family sedan. You can make it fast, dangerous and liable to blow up every other night, or sedate and reliable. I like to aim for the super car level, where I as an enthusiast can feel some excitement and marvel at the acceleration, but not soil my shorts at the thought of a razor thin band under high tension lying across my pulsing jugular as the pouch starts to cut through the taper.
This is what I'm shooting these days:
- Target: Double layer, 100% latex 0.50mm (.002") flatbands. Cut from 10 inch bands (8" between the fork and the pouch) for an under the chin draw. 1" at the fork. 30% taper. Gives a light, controllable shot. 5-7g (.2oz/ 90 grains) lead ball.
- Power: Double layer, 100% latex 0.75mm (.003") flatbands. Cut from 10 inch bands (8" between the fork and the pouch) for an under the chin draw. 1" at the fork. 30% taper. Gives a heavy but manageable shot. 9/12g (.4oz/ 160 grains) ball.
You can see some analysis on band formulas from legendary makers in my blog
. It's far easier, better and more honourable to buy direct than to attempt to copy them yourself.