I made this trebuchet a while back, and found that it could hurl a small fishing weight about 100 feet each time. A trebuchet can fling a projectile by using the counterweight to pull up the arm and the sling. The trebuchet was built to throw their projectiles high and not as far as possible. In medieval times the trebuchet would be used as a seige weapon to throw corpses over the walls of a castle or fort, causing the inhabitants of the castle or fort to contract diseases and to die or weaken.
Here is a link to the original plans http://www.schenectady.k12.ny.us/users/pattersont/IBDT%20Website/FinalActivityMay05.html
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Can you make this in a school setting? Our class would like to do this.
It's been a while since I thought about this project. My father and I made it for a school project when I was in the fifth grade. I think that it is made mainly of 1x1 inch wood and 5 mm plywood. The majority of the cutting would be doable with a miterbox, and a cordless drill would work just fine for the pivot points. I don't have the dimensions, but I'm sure that your students will be able to figure out the relationship between the arm length and the counterweight length with a bit of research. Sadly the link to the original plans no longer works. The weight that I used was lead picked up from a gun range. It would be a good idea to find an alternative to lead.
Best of luck with your class project, and hopefully this will be a good learning experience.