Thanks to Kiteman for his original instructable! It can be viewed here:
Q:What is a Cracker Chucker?
A:Well, it's only the best way to turn small 'Ritz' style crackers into skeet!
Here in northeast Ohio, we have the luxury of being able to spend countless hours trap shooting and preparing for the next time a small disk flies over head, so we can shoot it down quickly and safely. (Watch your back E.T.) Skeet shooting and Trap shooting are two separate sports employing the same technology. Namely: shotguns, clay pigeons, and a throwing device.
"Trap shooting has been a sport since at least 1793 when it used real birds, usually the Passenger Pigeon, which was extremely abundant at the time. Fake birds were introduced around the time of the American Civil War as the Passenger Pigeon was nearing extinction and sufficient numbers were not reliably available. Clay targets were introduced in the 1880's." source:
Presently, most commercially produced clay pigeons are made of asphalt pitch. Asphalt pitch is a derivative of asphalt tar, and it is not readily biodegradable. It is also harmful to many animals, though most commonly wild and domestic pigs.
So, searching one day for a more 'green' way to train in the shooting sports, I stumbled upon Kiteman's Cracker Chucker. After building one and successively going through a full box of crackers with it, and a full box of shells, it was mostly duct tape and sticks holding it together. Collaboratively, my brother-in-law and I decided that one made of metal would subsequently last quite a bit longer. We also thought aluminum would be the best choice for weight to strength ratio. Without any further ado, here is the process I used to build The Aluminum Cracker Chucker.
Cost: Very little. (mine was free)
Difficulty: Very easy.
You will need:
1 piece of scrap aluminum 3 inches by 2 feet
String or rope to use as a lanyard (I used 550 cord)
Rubber or Friction tape
Shrink Tube (optional)
Something to make a 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch bend (I used our shop's brake, but you can use a pair of sheet metal tongs or vise grips, it just takes considerably longer.)
As with all throwing devices and shooting sports, safety is the number one priority. I take no responsibility for anyone injured or killed in the use or construction of this tool.
Step 1: The Mark
I chose a scrap of aluminum from our drops bin that was 3 inches by 2 feet.
Next, on the end of the strip that you want to become the top, you will place five marks. I placed one mark in the center, 1 1/2 inches in. Then put two more marks on the top end. From the left, they are at 1 and 3/8 inches and 1 and 5/8 inches, leaving 1/4 inch in between. Then put one mark on each long side 1 and 3/8 inches from the top. Then put three marks on the bottom end that correspond to the marks on the top edge as follows, from the left: 1 3/8 inches, 1 1/2 inches, 1 5/8 inches.
I then used a straight edge to make a line from the marks on the side to the marks on the top. (see photo 4) Next take a pair of snips and cut off the two top corners along the lines.
Step 2: 'Brake' Down
Anyone who has used an old brake like this will tell you it's difficult to get a tight bend in a 'c' channel like this. The opening will tend to be on the wider side, mine was about an inch open, but the brake gave it some tight straight lines, so I was able to tap it a few times with a mallet to straighten it out.
If you're using tongs or vise grips to do the bending, run a straight line down from the top marks to the bottom, and bend along the lines. Precision is not required, as the whole thing can be a bit sloppy and still perform quite well.
Step 3: Rubber Spine
I did mine using a piece of rubber flashing. In the event you are not a roofing contractor, you can use friction tape.
What i did was to cut a strip of rubber about 1/4 inch by 2 feet long, then I peeled the backing paper, and used my scissors to force it down into the interior of the spine.
Of course, you can just as easily use a 2 foot piece of friction tape on the interior.
The friction from the spine is very important, in Kiteman's original, the corrugation gave the friction. In ours however, the aluminum is very smooth, so without friction from the spine, the cracker will just slide out of the end. The reason the friction is so important, is crackers are not very aerodynamic, so the friction will give the cracker some nice rotation. The rotation will give us moment of inertia to stabilize the flight path. (like a frisbee)
Step 4: Get a Handle on Things
I cut two pieces of the flashing, one about an inch and a half wide by 6 inches long, and then a six by six inch square. I first peeled and wrapped the skinny piece from the back side around the bottom, and to the front. (see picture 2) Next I wrapped the six by six square around the handle. (picture 3 and 4)
Step 5: Land Your Lanyard
Be sure to use something strong and durable as your lanyard. This is a sharp metal instrument you will be flailing around, so yes, a lanyard is necessary.
I used parachute cord and a small metal bead i had laying around to make my lanyard. I threaded it through the handle with a bent piece of coathanger that I use for knot tying. Tie a nice square knot to close the ends.
Step 6: Start Your Chucking
Now, i know the first thing I thought of was throwing washers out of the thing. Let me point out, crackers fly about 50 yds out of these things. You can easily put a steel washer through drywall.
No matter what you decide to throw out of this thing, please be careful.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Kiteman.
Post Script: Here's a video of it in action. The crackers are very hard to see, but if you look hard you can see a couple of them really take off. I think it's easier to infer the flight path from the speed than it is to see them. I slowed the last throw down and adjusted the contrast to make it more obvious. This footage was taken at Top of the World park, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. It was very windy, so we were limited as to the direction of the throws, but we tried it against a few different backdrops so it could be seen. We are currently trying to come up with something dark to throw, we are thinking poker chips, but it becomes a pain having to chase them all over the place. Maybe a washer with a button cell and LED at dusk....
In the first clips, the barn is about 30 yards away. If you can see, it clears the roof almost every time, unless I had a bad throw. In most of the clips after, I was between 25 and 30 yards from the woods. At 30 yards, with a forty five degree throw, the crackers are still climbing. We recommend shooting them on the rise. After they get out 30-40 yards, the odds that a pellet will hit it become virtually nil. Even if you make a dead on shot, the pattern of the shot at 30 yards is highly spread. The plus side is that this really is great training for quail and pheasant hunts, because they explode out of the grass and generally fly out and up very fast. You get to be pretty quick on the target acquisition after a few boxes. Hope you enjoy the vid! Special thanks to Sean for his help filming and editing.