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




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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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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220 Discussions


8 years ago on Step 5

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

1 reply

Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

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


2 years ago

how long are the skewers

for the catapult were using bamboo so its harder and stronger

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

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

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!

1 reply
Tree Hugger

7 years ago on Introduction

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


7 years ago on Step 5

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

1 reply

8 years ago on Introduction

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

2 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

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