I was researching different survival tools when I read about blowguns. It seems many aboriginal people throughout the world have been using these for thousands of years to hunt small game. In North America the Native Americans would use river cane which the hollowed out and sanded until the bore was smooth and they made the darts from various hardwoods that were sharpened at the tip with a sort of cone shaped fletching at the end to provide stability in flight and a tight seal between the dart and the gun. In South America a similar technique was used but poison was put on the dart allowing them to take down larger prey.
Modern blowguns follow an almost identical form, however, the materials used are much more durable and sturdy. Instead of river cane, manufacturers like Cold Steel use aluminium for blowguns and steel or bamboo and plastic for their darts.
Step 1: Before You Begin
Oddly enough there are places where it is illegal to have a blowgun. If you live in California, everything is illegal, so don't even think about making one. Canada hates blowguns also, I'm not sure why, eh.
If you are under 18 you are considered too immature to wield such a mighty weapon and therefore, you too, should not try to make one of these.
If you have a fear of sharp objects or if you are likely to somehow shoot your eye out, don't make any of this stuff.
Lastly, blowguns are fun to use, but if you make the darts as I have described, or anything else which is not soft foam, they are not a toy. They should be considered a serious survival tool for hunting and should be given the same respect as a knife, a bow, a spear, or a gun.
Step 2: Here's What Ya Need!
The key to this is "simple". While Cold Steel makes fine products which anyone would be proud to have, a blowgun can be as simple as a tube.
So that's what my blowgun is. A piece a 1/2 inch cpvc pipe. I had a piece lying around. It's about 3 feet long and is strait and clean. I may ad a design or a mouthpiece or a sight, but as for now it is just a piece of pipe and that is fine.
The darts are just a 1 1/2 inch hardwood finish nails and Skulpey. The only other items you need are sandpaper and your blowgun.
If you have some marking flags they also make very good darts once sized and sharpened. You can use almost any straight wire.
Step 3: Making the Dart
Start with your clay. You want a small piece about the size of a small wad of chewed gum.
Next roll it around in your very clean hands until it looks a bit like a mini marshmallow. (I had the white colored Skulpey) That is the size and shape you want.
Next push the ball of clay a little ways into your blowgun. Not all the way in or it will get stuck.
What you should have will look a little like an acorn.
Push your nail into the bottom of the acorn keeping it as close to centered as you can.
Form the acorn into a cone shape with the pointy end of the nail coming out of the pointy end of the cone.
Make sure your flat end of the cone is a little bigger than the hole of your blowgun.
Step 4: Bake It
Bake your clay according to instructions.
This is why Skulpey works so well: it can be baked in an oven or toaster oven, then sanded.
Step 5: Sand It
I made the cone of the dart a little larger than the bore because if it was made the exact size of the bore and it shrunk during the baking process I would have had to add to the cone, instead I just sand off the excess.
Step 6: Check the Fit
Sand slowly and check the fit of the dart often. it should just fit into the bore of your blowgun. Too tight and it can get stuck, too loose and you lose air pressure and the dart just sort of bloops out the end.
Step 7: That's It
That was simple, wasn't it? Almost anyone can make these and in a survival situation it may be possible to take down a rat or a small bird with this. Please remember to never shoot a person, a pet, or any other animal unless it is for survival. Don't shoot this where it can damage other people's things and, seriously, Don't shoot your eye out!