Is It A Slingshot or Flip?
By Matt Lockridge

     Have you ever shot a slingshot?  It’s tougher than it looks.     Just At a glance, you wouldn’t think that there’s much to it.  All you do is put the rock in the pocket and pull it back right?  WRONG!  It takes at least a solid hour of shooting just to get comfortable enough to hit within a reasonable pattern.  But when you hit your target for the first time…wow does it feel good!  You can’t quit shooting after you see the big hole that you just put through the aluminum can.  And with what, a forked stick (or stock) with two rubber bands propelling a marble that was held by a leather pocket?  There’s more to it than you think.
     Do you know what’s more challenging than shooting a slingshot?  Try to make your own.  Again, it’s just a forked stick with two rubber bands….yeah, yeah, you get my point.  I think there is more precision and more calculations that go into making a slingshot than go into building a rocket.  Your rubbers have to be the same length or it won’t shoot true.  Your pocket has to be the precise size or you rock will not shoot the same every time.  The stock has to fit your hand just right or it will not be comfortable.  The length of the rubbers has to be just right.  If they are too long, your rock will be lobbed instead of shot.  If they’re too short, your arm will shake and you won’t be able to hit the ground.  To top it all off, no two slingshots shoot the same, each has its own personality, its own attitude.
     Now with that being said, back to the question at hand, “What is the difference between a slingshot and a flip?”  There is but one thing that separates the two.  It’s the story behind your slingshot.  Your slingshot graduates to a flip after you hit your first can, or you shoot your first apple out of a tree.  You have to have a story and it doesn’t have to be a good one, it just has to be yours.
    My Granddaddy has a flip (he’s also got a handful of slingshots too) and he calls it “The Rocket”....
Picture Left: Grandaddy Allen Lockridge

   The Rocket has destroyed more cans than you can shake a stick at.  It shoots marbles so fast that you can’t even see them while they’re traveling, but man you can sure see the wicked hole that they make in a can.  He takes pride in his flip, don’t get me wrong.  But I’m sure he’d trade it for the one his big brother made him when he was a young kid.

The story goes like this… 

     Granddaddy was a little tike (around the age of 5) with a brother named Jim who was a good bit older than him.  Jim was pretty good with a flip.  Granddaddy would stay after Jim to make him one of his own.  Well, finally the pestering paid off; Jim made him his first slingshot.  The grasshoppers and birds (and pretty much anything that moved) didn’t know what they had coming.  Shortly after Granddaddy got his slingshot, it was converted into a flip.  Let me clarify something real quick.  This story takes place in a time when we didn’t have the luxury of a saw to cut the frame or good rubber bands or good surgical tubing.  The rubbers were cut from old tire inner tubes that people would discard after a blowout.  So, for Granddaddy to get a flip would be like me (as a child) getting a remote control toy or a gaming console.  Now, back to the story.  Granddaddy got so good that he could outshoot Jim, and that made Jim a little uneasy, in a brotherly way.  One of Granddaddy’s most cherished stories was when he killed a rabbit, while it was running.  Now he has killed a lot of rabbits while they were on bed but none running.  Until one day… he finally landed the shot and folded the rabbit up.  They were some men across town that Granddaddy had seen hang their rabbits from their belt as they were coming back home.  What do you think Granddaddy did?  He tied that rabbit to his belt and strutted out by the road so all the passers-by could see his kill.
     My Granddaddy and his friends would get into flip battles (just picture paintball wars, minus the paint and the protective armor).  His cousin, J.D., was hiding behind a fallen tree, thinking that all of his body was hidden.  Well, everything was hidden except his foot and about 4 inches of ankle.  Granddaddy draws back his flip, takes his aim, and fires a big green acorn at J.D.’s ankle.  Smack, direct hit!  Twenty minutes later, after J.D. got through rolling around crying and screaming, they called off the war.
     Granddaddy would get his flip taken away from him as punishment.  Now, this didn’t go over well with Granddaddy since this was the only thing that he had to keep him occupied.  He didn’t have any other toys or anything to keep him content.  All he had was his flip.  Granddaddy wised up after a handful of times of having his flip taken away.  He built him another one.  Again, the supplies to make a slingshot back then were few and far between, so for him to have two flips wasn’t to be taken for granted.  Granddaddy would walk out of the house, all puffed up and kicking until he got out of sight.  Then he would go dig his other flip out of his hiding hole and he would tear out shooting everything in sight.  When it got time to go back home, he would hide his flip and take on an angry look and go back into the house.  No one ever found out about his spare flip.
     Granddaddy got so furious one day that he told his family that he was leaving.  He has never been this mad before and has no intentions of coming back.  He left with no clothes, didn’t eat, didn’t have any destination in mind.  He was going anywhere but home.  About two miles down the road, Granddaddy comes upon a pot of gold.  There it was; a punctured inner tube.  I should’ve mentioned earlier that Granddaddy’s best flip had broken its last rubber and he didn’t have any more.  He ran as fast as he could, back home, or back to his flip, rather.  He says that he didn’t know what would’ve happened if he hadn’t have found the punctured inner tube.  Maybe there wouldn’t be a story to tell.
     My inspiration for this comes from my Granddaddy, Allen Lockridge
     All of these stories are about him and are completely true.  He shoots his flip to this day, down in his basement.  He’s got a target range setup with cans that hang from the ceiling.  While I work on making memories with my flip (mostly shooting with him), he ponders on the good ol’ days with him, his flip and a pocketful of rocks.
     If you are interested in joining a club for flip shooting, please give him a call (256.358.4776)  If you’re looking for information about flips, whether it be shooting them, making them or if you’re looking for a partner (or know someone that would be interested in this), why don’t you give him a call.  It would absolutely make his day and it might even plant a seed in you that would grow into countless memories of you and your flip.  Oh yeah, when you call, ask for the best flip shooter around, they’ll know who you’re talking about.

Call 256-358-4776   Join our local Flip Shooting Club!
Great for Kids and Old Folks Too!!!! Call 256-358-4776

When author Matt Lockridge isn't writing about his favorite sport he's working for
AIDT in Alabama, which is a training organization for the voluminous Honda Car Company.
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