Tree climbing


Tree climbing
  Technical Matters

Out of the archives of recreational tree climbing history, here are some early hand-made solutions for getting your line over 100 feet up into a tree. For cutting edge products on the market for today's climbers, visit or to see air powered launchers and giant sling shots.


Simple Slingshot Setup

Scott Altenhoff's Laserhawk Slingshot Setup

Another Slingshot Setup

Mounting a Reel on a Barnett Trident II Crossbow


Invented and submitted by Matt Guenther

Here's an approach to mounting a reel on a slingshot that has all the qualities we love in an invention:

--it calls for inexpensive, easy-to-find parts

--it has simplicity of design

--it's thoroughly thought-out

...and it works!

This design will work with a slingshot like the Marksman Laserhawk III, which is priced under $15.00. For a projectile, Matt is using a pear-shaped lead sinker (between 1to 2 oz) wrapped in red tape for visibility. Any reel that can handle 20# line will do. The brighter the line, the better. Matt easily gets shots to 100+ feet with this rig.

Many thanks, Matt, for showing us this setup. It's a stroke of genius and a ticket into the canopy for tree climbers.


NOTE: If you already have a Laserhawk slingshot, count yourself lucky. They are out of production now and no longer available in stores. This description is for you lucky ones.

Suggested components:

Reel -- Shimano TX 2000FA

Line -- Berkeley Fireline 20 lb neon green

Release -- Scott caliper wrist strap release

Scott Shot projectile

This prototype was conceived and assembled by Scott Altenhoff. He mounted a line guide projecting from the front of the Laserhawk. It’s a fiberglass/epoxy composite tube that terminates in a fork where the line rests before firing. Note that the reel is mounted to it using hose clamps covered in electrician’s tape. All parts of this rig must be finished as smooth as possible to reduce the chance of snagging the line while firing.

The elastic tubing replaces the original equipment. It is customized with a nybuck cradle, perforated to receive the tubing attachments. The cylinders flanking the Scott Shot are cut from rubber tubing and serve to grip and release the Scott Shot for a controlled fly-away. The same cord that secures them threads through small holes in the cradle to form the drawloop, which is sheathed in tubing to keep it neat and strong.

The wrist strap release has caliper jaws to grab the drawloop, and a trigger. The power and precision of the release device is overwhelmingly superior to manual release. It takes strong, steady arms to draw, aim and fire the Laserhawk. This is why some climbers prefer a crossbow, which is cocked before aiming.


Department store sling shot with adjustable pull range  $12.00 - $30.00
12-18" of 1/4 inch copper pipe with end cap, bent in s-curve  $1.00
2 mini hose clamps  $.25
Wire enough to rig line-guide

     (we used copper wire so it can flex to stuff in a pack, but coat hanger works)
Spinning reel - Shimano TX 2000FA  $20.00
Berkeley Fireline 20 lb neon green 1000 yard spool, from Cabela's, around 100 bucks
Scott Shot projectiles
The picture gives you an idea of how it comes together.

Scott Altenhoff is the master of this set up. He raves about being able to pull back a shot without having to untie the pouch. It pulls back with a little tugging and doesn't tangle nearly as much as arrows or heavy shot pouches. Reel back in and reshoot. With practice, your accuracy and distance can reach and exceed that of a pistol crossbow, and match that of some standard crossbows. Scotty was shooting right over the top of the trees in front of the New Tribe workshop, which are about 110' high. Yowsa!

Once your fish line is over the right branch, tie regular throwline to it and haul that back over. Then tie your climbing line to the throwline and haul that back over. Now you can secure the climbing line at the ground or rig it in a choker around the anchor branch using a figure 8 eye knot with an oval screw link that runs up the standing part of the rope. Keep in mind that you will always need throwline length that is more than twice the height of your anchor branch, in order to pull this off.


NOTE: If you already have a Barnett Trident II crossbow, count yourself lucky. This product is no longer available in stores. However, the principle described here can be adapted to other models of pistol crossbows. We offer this guide to inspire you to get creative with your own gear.

Here is Viola Brumbaugh's description of how she mounted a reel on a Barnett Trident II Crossbow.


"The reel mounts to the frame of the crossbow beneath the flight track, using two hose clamps that pass through slots I created in the frame between the trigger guard and the nose of the crossbow. I made each slot by drilling a series of holes in the center of the frame and hollowing out the material between them with a file.


"Then on the bottom of the frame, I marked the length and location of the seat needed for the reel. With a hack saw, I made a series of cuts close together along my mark on the bottom of the frame, then chiseled out the material between the cuts to create a flat smooth surface to seat the reel. Then I sanded the slots and the seat to smooth out the rough edges.


"I use Berkeley 20 lb low stretch Fireline, and back the line on the reel so that the line comes right out to the edge, to minimize any friction as the line pays out."


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