Introduction: How to Make a Desktop Viking Catapult (with a Bonus Wargame to Play).

Picture of How to Make a Desktop Viking Catapult (with a Bonus Wargame to Play).

The other main types of siege engine (trebuchet, torsion catapult, slingshot) are already well represented on Instructables, but we don't seem to have a Viking Catapult.

Inspired by a combination of Scout lashing activities and the books of William Gurstelle, combined with the need to rescale for a classroom or club activity, I present The Desktop Viking Catapult.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You will need:

  • Six bamboo skewers
  • At least eleven elastic bands.
  • A small plastic pot or bowl.
  • Something to cut the bamboo - wire-cutters work well.
  • Ammunition (dried peas, paper pellets etc)
  • Space to play.
  • Opponents to battle.

Step 2: The Frame.

Picture of The Frame.

First, trim the points off the skewers. Safety firsty, don'cha know.

Use three of the skewers to make a triangle. Lash the joints together with elastic bands.

Thread two more skewers into two of the joints of your triangle, then bend them together and lash that joint with another elastic band.

You should now have a diamond-shape, with a bend in the middle (see the third picture).

Cut the last skewer in half, and lash the halves between the two parts of the diamond shape.

Stand the frame on one of the complete triangles - it should look like a mangled pyramid.

Step 3: The Firing Mechanism.

Picture of The Firing Mechanism.

The ideal ammunition carrier is a shallow bowl or pouch.

You can use a small plastic pot, such as a trimmed-down film cannister, or use a small plastic funnel.

Drill three holes in the edge of the carrier, 120o apart (that is, spread evenly around the edge of the pot).

Fasten an elastic band to each hole with a Lark's Head hitch, then tie the other end of each band to the middles of the skewers that make up the frame. You could even use a round-turn and two half-hitches, but if your bands are short, you can just hook them behind and around the ends of the side-braces.

Step 4: Firing.

Picture of Firing.

Firing is easy - load up the ammunition, pull back and release.

The full-sized catapult is lashed together from six or ten-foot staves, and the firer sits inside the catapult, bracing his feet against the lower corners of the frame. You will just have to press down on the top or back corners of the frame to brace it.

Step 5: War!

Picture of War!

These catapults are so quick and easy to make, they make an ideal team event.

1. Prior preparation - make up as many sets of parts for catapults as you need. It will be at least one for each team, and I suggest you have a minimum of one catapult per three players. You can also print out a diagram of the finished catapult for each team to check. Obtain a quantity of suitable ammunition - say, a bowl of ping-pong balls.

2. Show your players how to make and fire the catapult, then split them into two or more teams.

3. Give each team their catapult components, place the bowl of ammunition between them and shout "go!"

4. The teams must then build their catapults as quickly as possible, then send members into the middle of the playing area to collect ammunition and start firing at the other team.

You may wish to rule that they can only pick one ping pong ball at a time from the bowl, but pick up as many loose balls at a time as they wish.

5. The object of the game is to knock out the opposing team by hitting players with ping pong balls. Any player hit by a ball is out, and the battle must be continued by the remaining members.

Winning can be decided either by "last man standing", or the team with the most members left after a set time.

Who needs airsoft? This is war


alxolex (author)2011-02-27

Thanks for the nice 'ible! My 6-year-old loves his new toy :)

Kiteman (author)alxolex2011-02-27

Haha, that's great! Thanks for posting the picture!

tastenasty500 (author)2016-11-16

how long are the skewers

for the catapult were using bamboo so its harder and stronger

Kiteman (author)tastenasty5002016-11-17

The skewers I used were about a foot long, but I've seen these built using six-foot wooden poles.

Xygi made it! (author)2016-02-16

Thank you for your inst/! I just made something inspired by it))

Kiteman (author)Xygi2016-02-17


Xygi (author)Kiteman2016-02-17

Thank you)

NinjaOrange7159 (author)2012-07-20

i made this 'ible and it worked great! i didnt have any film canisters so i got a bottled water top and wrapped some elctrical tape, folded it and then got a hole punch and got some holes and chopped off the extra. i used a paintball and fired it using three fingers and it flew at least 50 feet!

Kiteman (author)NinjaOrange71592012-07-20

That is awesome - thanks for sharing.

giike3 (author)2012-07-11

you can also use hair bands i tried it with my wife's

Kiteman (author)giike32012-07-11

Haha, I hope you asked her first!

boomboombaby (author)2012-05-09

I made an even tinier version,out of toothpicks and rubberbands...

and it works as you say it does thanks for posting!

Kiteman (author)boomboombaby2012-05-09

You're welcome - could you post a photo?

Tree Hugger (author)2012-01-31

you should post a video of it in action:) I can't wait to try it!

famousguy (author)2012-01-20

That is very cool.How will you use mass and volume
and all those stuff?

Kiteman (author)famousguy2012-01-21

Sorry, I don't get your question.

LucDaRocka1 (author)2011-06-26

im making a lifesize one with bamboo that grows like crazy down the street...... its gonna shoot water balloons

Kiteman (author)LucDaRocka12011-06-26

Make sure you post photos!

LucDaRocka1 (author)Kiteman2011-06-30

actually now i changed my mind and im gonna build a triangular clubhouse outta bamboo... so thanks for the inspiration!

patriots8888 (author)2011-02-16

cool instructable and can i do this with pencils instead of skewers?

Kiteman (author)patriots88882011-02-17

Of course you can - it will just be smaller.

ZeeHeeMee (author)Kiteman2011-06-11

It will be smaller, but stiffer. So it will last you a long time!

hamsTheMan (author)2011-05-08

woooh east alglia ftw ( icant spell) where abouts u live? , btw awsome catapult

Kiteman (author)hamsTheMan2011-05-08

Way in the East of Suffolk.

hamsTheMan (author)Kiteman2011-05-08

im in suffolk are u in norlfolk?

Kiteman (author)hamsTheMan2011-05-08

See where I said I'm in the East of Suffolk?

That's all the details you get.

hamsTheMan (author)Kiteman2011-05-08

cool, near felixstow?
im near bury st edmunds

hamsTheMan (author)2011-05-08

hahaha dont put the pot thing on and use straightened paper clip with a bent end, IT GOES MILES PLEASE TRY, GOES THREE TIMES AS FAR!!!!!!!!!


Kiteman (author)hamsTheMan2011-05-08

If you're aiming at folk, make sure they're wearing goggles...

doctor strange (author)2011-04-28

please try making the steps a bit more understandable may be in sketches but still this are very good

Kiernan (author)2009-08-20

Nice, its late rite now but tommarow im going to build a giant one and use military grade bungie cord that I have laying around.

SSRT (author)Kiernan2009-09-04

Surgical tube would be better :)

the dudemaster (author)SSRT2011-04-17

i tried something similar with surgical tube and after about two hours of playing outside with it the sun rotted the tube and i about put my eye out so i would be careful with that idea.

captaincrackers (author)Kiernan2010-09-03

Where'd you get military grade bungie cord?

alphasmith (author)Kiernan2009-10-16

wait, you just happen to have military-grade bungee cord lying around?

Kiernan (author)alphasmith2009-10-16

Yeah, I got it from American Science & Surplus I just looked and it dosen't appear that they sell it anymore

Kiteman (author)Kiernan2009-08-23

That sounds cool. Why not post your own Instructable about it? Remember - plenty of photos.

bears0 (author)2010-10-08

thanks, finaly something on instructibles i have the stuff to build

Kiteman (author)bears02010-10-08

You're welcome!

fartnocker (author)2010-04-06

 its funny cuz my mom lets out a scream that sounds like chubacka when chess peices wiz by her head at lightning speed

bbot2000729 (author)fartnocker2010-09-02

Pardon me, but why do do you use chess pieces as ammunition?

acidbass (author)bbot20007292010-10-03

he hates chess

bbot2000729 (author)fartnocker2010-09-02

and,stone wqork better.

meistheman (author)2010-02-23

I hope this works, I have a school project where I have to shoot three quarters glued together from a catapult powered by rubber bands. the quarters have to go over a 5-foot wall that is 6 feet away, then another 4 feet and hit at least within a 1-foot radius of a dinner plate, if we hit the plate, the teacher buys a pizza   

What a waste of three quarters

Kendallkip (author)meistheman2010-08-08

That waste of ¢75 makes me sad D:

Kiteman (author)meistheman2010-02-24

Good luck.

cad97 (author)2010-07-19

It may be over sized but i found out the top of a plastic water bottle works great!

jack penny (author)2010-06-28

soda bottle caps work well

Kiteman (author)jack penny2010-06-29

Cool, thanks.

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
More by Kiteman:How to Make My Mother's Rum Butter.Fallen Astronaut 2Custom laser cut metal business cards
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