When deciding how to spend our free time, we all have our preferences. Some play instruments, some play sports, and some catch up on a book they’ve been putting off.
Darrin Cook makes slingshots.
Cook, a skilled trades worker for the Grounds Department within the Facilities Management Division, has been building, buying, shooting, and showing off slingshots for the past five years. He travels across the eastern United States participating in tournaments and meeting up with other slingshot enthusiasts.
Cook came across this uncommon hobby on the internet. He discovered slingshot enthusiast “Gamekeeper John,” a British Youtuber who posts videos all about slingshots: how to make them, hunt with them, shoot with them, and other general advice. Cook bought two slingshots from John, joined a few forums about the sport, and started making videos of his own.
“I started jumping on the trampoline, spinning in the air, shooting something,” Cook said. He won first place and third place in two online competitions.
Everything started to spiral from that. Cook started trading slingshots, building slingshots, joining more slingshot forums, and connecting with American slingshot specialists.
“They kind of became extended family,” Cook said. “And it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger. When I got into it five years ago, there was just a few of us.”
Cook shares his passion with everyone he meets. He puts on workshops in the Athens community and shows people from all backgrounds how to make and shoot slingshots.
“I’ve had shoots at my house on the front porch… We just shoot and have fun.”
While Cook says the workshops and casual shoots are fun, he wants to do more. He hopes to plan a slingshot tournament in the Athens area that invites enthusiasts from across the country to the classic city.
“It’s still kind of underground… It seems to be everywhere but here.”
Regardless of the tournaments, Cook didn’t get into shooting slingshots for the competition.
“You walk through the woods and you just start shooting things, and anyone can do it. We are always willing to help you learn to be a better shooter.”