This is a great project for the kids at parties or Maker Camp. Make up a kit for each kid. Have the kids assemble their shooter using the enclosed secret plans, and then decorate and personalize their secret weapon. Head outside and have a blast. No need to pick up the mess, the birds and squirrels will do it for you.
There are two files for the secret plans. One is a PDF, which makes it easy to print. The other is a Corel Draw file, in case you want to customize the plans.
Step 1: What Is Needed
The shooters are made from 1/2" schedule 40 PVC pipe. Each shooter needs about 30 inches, which means you can make 4 shooters from a 10' length of pipe.
You will also need 2-90 degree elbows, 2 Tees, and 2 caps per shooter. These parts can usually be found in "Contractor's Packs" which are much cheaper. No glue is needed, just push the parts together.
You will also need some Acetone for cleaning the pipe. Everyone will want to decorate their creation, more about that later.
Step 2: First Clean the Printing Off the Pipe
Acetone works well for removing the printing put on the pipe by the manufacturer. Uses gloves and a well ventilated area. Soak a rag or paper towel with acetone and wipe it down the pipe. Move quickly, the Acetone will dissolve the pipe a bit. The pipe should come quite clean. If it doesn't, try lightly sanding the pipe with fine sandpaper before the Acetone treatment. You can sand afterward as well if needed.
Sometimes the fittings will have stick-on tags (not common on Contractor's Pack). You can use a hot air gun to heat and soften the tag so that it can be removed. (or just let the kids do this part)
Step 3: Cut the Pipe to Length
A table saw with a crosscut jig work great. A miter saw also works very well. Set up a stop and cut all of one size first. Start with the longer pieces, if you goof up, they can always become the shorter pieces.
After cutting the pieces, remove sharp edges with some fine sandpaper. Just wiping the ends on a piece od sandpaper does the trick.
Make kits by putting all the pieces for a shooter in a zip-lock bag, along with the secret drawing.
Step 4: Let the Assembly Begin
Give each of the kids a kit, and see what they can do. After building their shooter, have each person decorate it. One of the best things is colored vinyl tape. No mess and it doesn't have to dry. Colored vinyl tape can be found in assorted colors in the electrical department at the home centers.
Permanent markers also work well, but they can take a while to dry on the PVC. You may end up with more marker on the kids than on the shooters.
Ribbon can be used to decorate and make slings.
The ammo is small marshmallows. Wait until your outside to pass out the ammo.
We have done this several times at The MakerBarn. We are located on 5 acres, so the marshmallows get spread pretty thin. The birds and other critters welcome the snack. The clean-up decision is up to you.