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The History of the Spudgun

A Brief History of Spud Guns

A loooonnngggg time ago, fabled to be about 40 years, somewhere (in America of course) some middle-aged guys were bored so gathered up a bunch of beer cans (they were steel back then), duct tape, gasoline, and at least one tennis ball. Both ends of all cans were removed save one, from which only the bottom was removed; the peel-top hole end was left as is.

Legend has it the idea was struck that if all these cans were securely taped together to make a long tube, the tennis ball could be stuck down it muzzle loader style and fired by putting a small amount of gasoline in the bottom can (with the hole lid as the breech) and one brave soul (the one that had consumed the most beers) holding a lit match or lighter near the peel-top hole. Miraculously the tennis ball was expelled with great velocity. Much whooping and hollering ensued, and the device was promptly reloaded to verify the first one was not a 'fluke.' Hence the backyard cannon was born.

The modern-day version of these devices are typically called spud guns, although a great many names have been assigned to these devices as they come in many shapes, sizes and flavors. A lot has changed over 40 years, but the goal (should) remains the same: having fun with stuff you would not normally associate with a launcher of some kind firing all sorts of funny things for no particular reason--just for some kicks.

I have actually made it my profession, to take this activity to new and farther reaching heights, incorporating more and more technology all in the name of good fun!

A little spudgun history from visitors to the site.

This all goes back, maybe another twenty years. In early WW2 there were some rather crazy weapons devised, including a steam-powered gadget intended to lob ordinary hand grenades into the air to frighten the pilots of German bombers attacking ships. We were desperate enough to use the idea! Anyway, these contraptions were also used to shoot spuds at rival ships. One should never claim that one of His Majesty's Ships was unprepared to engage the enemy by any means possible.

-- Antonia T. Tiger

Like most people that find your site, I am impressed. And I was blown away at what I found. Your site is a trip dude! The reason for my search was nostalgic. It was because of a childhood memory. Something about "cans taped together" and "shooting tennis balls". I didn't know until now that what we "played" with was a "potato gun". I thought about this blurred memory while on the Internet and did a quick search. Here I am. I read the email stories and flipped when I read the letter about the Vietnam dudes and the tennis cannon. My brother and I are two years apart, we were 12 and 10 back in 1971. It was summertime
and my brother and I were always up to something. One summer we killed all the frogs in our local woods with BB guns (sad but true...funny then)...yup, not a frog to be seen for a few years. Anyway, that summer we were out in the back yard (residential area, very close neighbors) and we SOMEHOW had the "potato gun" knowledge (do not remember from who or where), and we made one. It was like six or seven veggie cans, duct taped together...the last can with a punched hole in the bottom side. We used lighter fluid. We shot tennis balls like than the lame BB guns ya know! Ha! Well, here's what happened one day. The neighbors behind us had a 6' foot wooden (flat) fence. We got the cool idea to get our baseball gloves and have one of us shoot the cannon at an angle into that fence, we would catch the whizzzzzzzzz-ing tennis balls off the rebound. Well, my brother shot one with "extra fluid"...BO-WOOOOOOOF...that bad boy hit the fence so fast we didn't even see it! Oh-oh...whoops...and then glass breaking. WOW! We look around and all our windows are cool...not good...if you know what I mean. Yup! The neighbors house. It went into their kitchen, breaking their window and 2 big 64oz."Boss" Pepsi's (made from glass then) on the counter. What a mess. We had to clean it up. Summer was over for a long while cuz of that adventure.
p.s. Yeah, I'll be buying one from you soon! Rock on!
****hey check this out****______ just one word: "PARACHUTE" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

document created 6/25/2002 11:36:03 PM; last modified 7/16/2003 10:56:30 PM


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