Ask LH: Why Can’t I Import A Slingshot?

Ask LH: Why Can’t I Import A Slingshot?

Why are the slingshots I buy from overseas being seized by Customs? And how can I make my own? Thanks, Slingstar

Slingshot picture from Shutterstock

Dear Slingstar,

As we noted in a recent Ask LH about Airsoft guns, Australia has pretty strict rules when it comes to projectile weapons. Even harmless, firearm-shaped toys regularly end up on banned lists, let alone slingshots which are capable of causing severe injury.

The laws surrounding slingshots vary depending on the state or territory you live in. You can legally purchase a slingshot in Queensland, the ACT and Tasmania, but not in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. (The only exceptions are approved toys specifically designed for children.)

Here are the rules for each state and territory with links to the relevant police documentation:

NSW: In NSW, any device consisting of an elasticised band secured to the forks of a ‘Y’ shaped frame is classed as a prohibited weapon. Homemade slingshots for use by a child in the course of play are permitted.

Victoria: Slingshots are classified as a prohibited weapon. They cannot be possessed, carried, used, displayed or sold without a Chief Commissioner’s Prohibited Weapons Approval.

Queensland: Slingshots are currently available for sale. The purchaser must be over 18 years of age.

South Australia: Slingshots are classed as Dangerous Articles and cannot be bought or imported without special permissions.

Western Australia: Commercially produced catapults/slingshots with or without an arm brace are classed as prohibited weapons.

ACT: Slingshots are currently available for sale. The purchaser must be over 18 years of age.

Tasmania: Slingshots and parts are legal to use on private property. A police certification test is required for importation.

Northern Territory: A catapult, shanghai, hunting sling or slingshot that is manufactured and intended for commercial distribution (including a frame or stock, and a sling) is classed as a controlled weapon.

There are additional restrictions in all states and territories on certain types of hunting slings that use a component part or brace to propel a projectile with the wrist or forearm. The restriction includes modifications made by the user.

If you have a legitimate reason for using a prohibited slingshot, you can usually apply for a special permit. However, the circumstances in which an exemption is granted are incredibly small — the only example we can think of is certain types of pest-control. Unfortunately, recreational activities such as fishing are not considered legitimate reasons for owning a slingshot and your application will be denied. Tch.

As to the second part of your question, we’d advise against making a DIY slingshot in any state that prohibits their use. Just like with handmade firearms, the penalty remain the same whether you buy one or roll your own.

With that said, you could always craft a makeshift version out of innocent-looking materials: check out the instructional video below for a condom slingshot!

Cheers Lifehacker Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • The laws must have changed a few years back, because myself and two friends walked into a fishing store in rural Victoria and purchased a “burly thrower” which was just a slingshot with a different name. My friend was not using it for pest control or fishing (though he wasn’t using it for dangerous purposes either — he just wanted to fling rocks and other stuff up in the bush), but they let him buy it and some extra tubing.

  • The answer given is incorrect and far too long. The correct answer to why you can’t import a slingshot is that “they are fun”. And as we all know, all forms of fun are banned in Nannyalia.

  • You can buy the rubber at Mick Smiths Gun Shop in George St Sydney. A quick trip to Officeworks for a tape gun with give you a great handle then just solder on some metal rods to add the rubber to it. If you extend the rods back 20cm you can add a leather strap to it and turn it from Slingshot to Shanghai. If you want to shoot your mates for fun Dog biscuits hurt like buggery but dont cause permanent damage.

  • It’s because the government sees itself as morally superior and knows what is best for everyone, removing all responsibility from your life, turning you into children in adult bodies, requiring permission for everything.

    Cause obviously everyone is a dullard who will shoot their neighbor’s eye out, but even as kids we knew not to do that.
    While we’re at it, we should ban trees, cause you could climb them and fall! Ban sticks and stones cause you might accidentally beat someone to death with them! Ban colorful language too, someone might get so offended at your use of the c-word that they will cry to death.

    Howbout we just ban idiots from Australia. Got an IQ lower than 50? We’ll send you to New Zealand! We can start with both parties of the government.

  • the ban in Victoria on slingshots is for a slingshot that is “commercially manufactured and intended for distribution”…. i have a slingshot made from a piece of tree i hunt small game with. If i ever get caught with it my argument will be that it is not “commercially manufactured” and i am following the Victorian law as it stands

      • Probably rabbits more likely. Which is one of the things they’re good for in theory, vermin so you can get another few shots off without scaring the others with the report of a rifle.

  • Just go to the markets they are readily available.
    Look for the cheap Chinese Toys they have them there.

  • I bought a slingshot overseas and bought it through customs ok (at Perth airport). I declared it (it was carved from an animal horn, so declared as animal products – not as a weapon). The customs officer that was inspecting my bags went and got her supervisor, who asked whether I had an arm brace for it, and it I only had the 1.. It was just the 1, and no brace, so I was allowed to bring it in.
    I guess the fact that it wasn’t commercially produced was the reason it was allowed through..

  • Looks like a P or F shape would do, but perhaps that should not be mentioned.
    They will ban people with hands, fingers and arms soon.

  • I was quite delighted when i noticed slingshot prominently on display in Queensland. Too bad I don’t really have anywhere safe I could use it, and to be honest, I’d probably get bored of it soon enough

  • There are various camping shops around NSW that sell the rubbers which can easily be attached to an appropriate home made mount. Not sure what they are strictly called but their purpose is obvious, in fact I think you can get them off eBay as well.

  • All slingshots with wrist braces are prohibited imports under Customs law. Wrist braces increase accuracy & power, some say by 20%. Check your state or territory out regarding your right to own one, we are not free, we are slaves. The wage slaves in Australia are pathetic & I wonder what would stir us enough to rage against the machine. No Saturday night Footy? Idiots!

  • No daggers, no butterfly knives, extendible batons, flick knives, no slingshots, no fireworks, no guns, no pistol crossbows, no choice, no freedom = wage slaves with a mortgage! How will you feel looking into a goons gun barrel asking for your jewellery, wife, kids & food? Ponder that, you may wish you had a slingshot (equity & diversity – political correctness will not save us then). Doh!

    • You left out spud guns. Also banned. We are governed by spineless idiots of all political persuasions.

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