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
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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