Making a Bola

The bola has been used for hundreds of years in hunting and in warfare. Deceptively simple in design, it consists of three weights at the end of cords that are attached to one another. It is held where the cords join, spun around the head, then thrown at the target. The weights wrap the cords around the target, immobilizing it for dispatch.

Here is a simple way to make a bola at home.

Take three tennis balls and, using a razor knife, cut two Xs on each ball. The Xs should be on opposite sides, one across from the other. These Xs need not be very large, perhaps the size of a nickel or so.

Cut three lengths of paracord or clothesline about 3-4 feet long. Tape the end of each cord to a pencil or a straightened out metal clothes hanger and push it through the holes you made on the tennis balls, one cord for each ball. The cord should run through the ball. Tie a large knot on the cord to keep it from pulling back through. You might find it easier to thread the cord through a metal washer first as that will prevent you from having to make an enormous knot.

Once you’ve done this for all three balls, tie the loose ends of each cord together. You may want to wrap duct tape around the cords at that end as well, making something like a handle.

Now you’ll want to add some weight to those tennis balls. Push pennies, small rocks, or nuts and bolts through the holes you made on the balls. You don’t want to add too much though otherwise the bola won’t be easy to control. You want just enough weight to give each ball a bit of heft.

To use, grasp the bola where you made your duct tape handle and begin twirling it around your head. When you have it spinning at a good clip, throw it at your target as you would a lasso. It will take a bit of practice but you’ll get the hang of it. Your target should be the legs of the animal or bad guy. To practice, use a fence post.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

4 thoughts on “Making a Bola”

  1. Pingback: 70 Notable Prepper Links in November 2012 « Survival Sherpa
  2. Dear Sir:
    let me make you a correction: the name is not bola (ball) but boleadoras (ballers???), as been largely used by southamerican native (pampas, puelches, tehuelches, guaranies, matacos, araucanos, yaganes etc) and latelly by gauchos (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, south Brazil) was a hunting and war weapon. Made of stone covered by leather, they had their “glory time” at the frontier wars (1605-1880) betwen spaniards conquerers and their decendants against native. severely deadly at short range (they were used one tied to floor with naked feet and the other two moving fast with one or two hands), with long knive known as “facon” (big nife) they were larglely spread among every single pampa nomad.

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