This staple of juvenilia is somewhat elementary. You're probably thinking, "Jurph, you total moron! Everyone knows how to do this, and if they don't, hand them a rubber band, and they'll figure it out." To that, I reply, "Oh, I'm sorry, maybe I should have explained--this node is about

How to shoot a rubber band with extreme range and precision."

For this trick, you will need:

  • Two hands, one with at least a finger and thumb, one with at least one finger.
  • A rubber band.
  • A target (optional).

Form your less-dextrous thumb and forefinger into a wide "L" shape (think of the old "loser" forehead symbol). Stretch the rubber band over this--your "L" may deform into a semi-circle; this is okay. This will be the "rubber band hand".

Hold the "L" so that the rubber band is horizontal and the inside of your wrist faces you. If you can't visualize this, imagine you are going to use the rubber band as a slingshot, or that you're going to throw a paper airplane. Think of how the Germans hold their cigarettes in old WWII movies. That's how you should be holding your hand.

Now, straighten the index finger of your other hand. This will be the "aiming finger." Bring the rubber band closer to your chest than the aiming hand, then slip the aiming finger up into the rubber band's loop, as shown below.

  _           _   _                /\
 (_\_________(_\_/_)              /  \
  \_______________/              /    \
 ( \ \         V /\             |_/  \_|
 (\ \ \       / A  \             /____\
  \\ \ \_____/ / \  \           |______|
   \          /  aiming     
   /  left   /   finger        aim this way
  /   hand  /

Now slowly push the aiming finger away from you while holding the rubber band slightly taut. The rubber band should be forming a triangle--not an isosceles triangle!--on all three fingers. As you push the aiming finger away, carefully rotate the rubber band hand (bringing the thumb towards you) until the non-aiming finger no longer has any slack on it--retract it into your fist. At this point, the rubber band hand's thumb and the aiming finger should have the rubber band stretched between them. One side (in this case, the right side) of the rubber band should be quite tense; the other, less tense, but not slack.

Looking down on the fingers, then:
2.        _ 
      _/    \
    _/       \ 
  _/          \
3.    |o|
      | |
     /O |
     |  |
     |  |
     |  |
     |  |
     \  |

3.    /o|
      | |
      | |
      | |
      | |}-- this side quite tense
      | |
      |}+--- this side less tense
      | |

Stretch the aiming finger away toward your target. If you wish, you may rotate the thumb further to increase the tension differential between the two halves of the rubber band.

Release the rubber band from the thumb--it should go sailing towards the target very quickly, and with a little practice you can "call" your shots from across the room: left ear, between the eyes, etc. Even if you just miss, most people will exclaim that they heard it go by--you know you're doing it right when it whistles.

Why does it work?

The tension differential in the rubber band causes the rubber band to spin like a frisbee in flight. This gives it a stability that a normally fired rubber band doesn't have. The spin also causes the rubber band to gain lift from its edges, and to massively reduce skin friction, and likewise drag. Some of these shots will hook or slice, but in general, they sail straighter, faster, and about 50% farther than a normally fired rubber band. Quick troubleshooting tip: if the rubber band goes into a stall and seems to just hang in the air about ten feet away, you've put too much spin on it; lessen the tension difference between the two sides before firing, so that you can pull it back farther. A perfectly balanced shot can fly 20+ feet and hit a one-foot circle every time. A slight imbalance will result in a hook around fifteen feet; a serious imbalance stalls or hooks inside ten feet.

After about fifty practice shots, I became adept enough to hit a doorknob from twelve feet away on the first try. YMMV, of course, but using this method, you will consistently hit targets harder, at greater range, and with more accuracy than your counterparts. You're not still in third grade--why should your cubicle warfare skills be?