First a bit of background about myself. I was born in 1960 and grew up in a kampong that is located at the Hill View area off Upper Bukit Bukit Timah. Like Chun See, I have fond memories of the games and pastimes that we enjoyed as kampong kids. Those days, we kids have to design and make our own toys.
One of those toys is the catapult. We called it the ‘Lastic’. I will explain to you how we make the lastic but please just learn this for knowledge only; and do not go and make one and do naughty things with it. It can be turned into a pretty nasty weapon.
Select a good tree branch. Look for a tree branch that has a Y-shape. The 2 arms should be roughly of equal size. Chun See says he and his friends used to make their lastic from the Sendudok, or Singapore Rhododendron, but I prefer the Tembusu tree which was easily found in our kampong. The Tembusu wood is stiffer and stronger and thus provide a more sturdy frame.
Trim of the excess materials but leave sufficient length of the arms to be tied together with a binding wire. Trim off the bark.
Roast the branch over a fire for about 10 to 15 minutes to remove the sap. We usually placed the it over 2 bricks and build a fire with dry twigs.
Untie the arms. You will find that the arms now will retain a beautiful curved Y-shape. Now we can trim off the excess lengths from the arms.
Get 2 strips of rubber of about 8 to10 inches long to form the slings. We usually cut them from the inner tubes of bicycles.
Cut a small rectangular piece of leather and make 2 slits at the ends.
Tie one end of the rubber strip to the lastic arm and the other to the leather. Use rubber bands to fasten them.
Repeat for the other arm and there you have your completed lastic.
What do we use the lastic for? We used it to shoot at toads, birds and fruits. For practice we shoot at lamp posts and tin cans. Chun See says he used his to shoot at his neighbour’s pigs which roam into their compound. For the ‘bullet’ we used small stones or pebbles. Sometimes we even use glass marbles, but it is a bit expensive.
I hope you have learnt something new today. Again, I want to stress. This catapult can be quite dangerous. Please do not make it.
Acknowledgement: My special thanks to the management of Cititech Industrial Building for permission to chop off one of the branches of their many Tembusu trees.