Line Placement Gear

Line Placement Gear

The first challenge you'll encounter when you climb large trees is rope placement: How do you get a rope over a branch that is 50 feet up? Answer: You attach it to a throwline and pull it up and over. And how do you get a throwline over the branch? You attach a throw weight to it, and throw it.

  • Throw weight

    Throw weight with loop

  • Throw line

    Throw line

The throw weight is a “beanbag” ranging from 6 to 16 ounces in weight. The throw line is a 1.25mm to 3mm polypropylene or dynema line, which is usually 150 feet long. A skilled climber can lob such a line over a branch 70 feet high. Use an 8-10 ounce throw weight for the thinner throw lines (1.25-2.25mm). Use a 12-16 ounce throwbag for trees with rough or flaky bark. Make sure the throw bag has a loop sewn in the bottom. That little loop gives you more options for throwline placement.

Tie a throw weight on both ends of the throw line. This increases your chances of precise line setting. It also protects you from the embarrassing error of having an unsecured line end sailing up into the treetop just when you scored your mark.

Adventurous climbers usually like to climb larger or taller trees. Professional climbers seek the highest fork in the center of the tree at the beginning of the work climb. Two tools can be used to get a line placed over these high points.

  • Big Shot

    Sherrill "Big Shot"

  • APTA

    Air-Powered Tree Access

The "Big Shot" slingshot by SherillTree is a large slingshot head mounted on an 8-foot fiberglass pole. There is even an aluminum pole that will extend to 10.5 feet for those extra tall trees. The throw weight is attached to a line that is usually over 200 feet long. To keep the line from getting tangled, use a throw line cube (or stack your line on a tarp). Always have a throw bag on the other end of the line. Always shoot with the throw line in front of you or risk getting a serious cut on your ear as the line goes out and up from the ground. The horns of the slingshot should be facing away from you while shooting.

Air guns are the newest technology for high line placement. They use compressed air. Air guns have many distinct advantages:

  • You can dial in the height of the shot by looking at the air pressure gauge on your bicycle pump. This is really important because overshooting a tree usually ends up with a hung weight up in the very top. Make sure you bring spare lines!
  • They are not a firearm nor bow and arrow. This can be helpful in restricted areas.
  • They are fairly accurate. Some people mount a laser pointer on them.
  • All you need is a bicycle pump. Floor mounted pumps are best with a pressure gauge near the handle. Bicycle frame pumps can also be used if you don’t mind the exercise.
  • They make a very loud thump when they go off. It’s fun! Cheering is allowed.

Beware! Big Shots and air guns are not toys! Here are some injuries we know of:

  • One climber had his ear sheared off when he put his throw line cube behind him while using a Big Shot.
  • A climber sent a throw weight through a door and a concrete block wall while fooling around with his air gun.
  • Climbers get hurt when weights misfire and get hung up in the latex rubber band. Always wear safety glasses!
  • A climber accidently stepped on the throw line while shooting with a Big Shot, resulting in a giant black eye when the throw weight came back at him. Safety glasses saved his eyesight.

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