“In every community, there’s someone up in the hills who could shoot the toes off a Tweety Bird from a hundred yards away.” That’s what Nathan Masters (memorably) claims about the age-old sport he’s built a business around. He’s the founder and CEO of Simple Shot Shooting Sports, and he notes that “everyone loves sharing” those tall tales of what slingshots can do.
Masters speaks with great fondness of his friendship with one of the big names of the sport, the late Richard “Blue” Skeen. He’s forged a lot of relationships just by going into communities and asking about slingshot greats.
Masters has been a marksman his whole adult life. After an ADHD diagnosis, he used archery as therapy, and found it more effective than medication for calming and centering himself. And then, one fateful day, he found a slingshot in his father’s shop. He took it out, hit a pinecone at 15 yards, and was hooked. Masters began carving slingshots, and his first business happened by accident — a hobby turned into an online following. He called it Flippinout Slingshots (“flip” is an insider term for the handheld, elastic-powered catapults; they first surfaced in the mid-1800s, after the invention of vulcanized rubber).
From there, Masters has worked to grow Simple Shot Shooting Sports into a successful business — housed at The Mill at Riverside in Woodfin — with distributors and customers around the globe. Along the way, he became the sport’s reigning national champion, and has appeared on CNBC’s Adventure Capitalists.
Masters waxes poetic about marksmanship as a deeply human skill. He sees slingshots as a comparatively safe way to tap into the urge to shoot; plus it’s inexpensive and evokes childhood nostalgia.
“The level of accuracy that can be attained is phenomenal,” he says. With some of the higher-tech models, he and his crew can aim a projectile with enough accuracy to cut a deck of playing cards or strike an unlit match into flame, from a distance of up to 50 feet. Models include everything from the simple Scout to futuristic-looking weapons to Masters’ customizable Hammer model, which can shoot an arrow and be used for bow fishing.
Even though his business is almost completely online, Masters still emphasizes the sport’s community aspect. What he loves most is to log on each morning to read customer feedback and answer questions. Or maybe someone calls, he says, “just to chat and say how much they enjoyed shooting with their grandson over the weekend — and how it connected them with something they’d forgotten about.”
Nathan Masters, Simple Shot Shooting Sports (2002 Riverside Drive, Suite 42-1, Woodfin). For more information, see simple-shot.com.