True Life Fridays: Potato Cannons

kids love potato cannons

kids love potato cannons

In a bid to change things up a bit around here, I’ve decided that every Friday I’m going to recall a personal story and tell all of you about it. Sometimes these stories will be short and probably dumb, but other times they could be extremely hilarious and awesome, so you should probably just read them all, all the time, and then share them with all your friends on Facebook claiming that it actually happened to you, because what do I care, I just want people to read my stories.

This week’s installment of “True Life Fridays” is sort of a collection of stories revolving around a deadly backyard weapon. This weapon can easily be made by a child, but probably shouldn’t be used by them after they make it as they’ll probably blow their little hands off leaving you with a handless child that will constantly cry because it can’t wipe it’s own ass. Of course I’m talking about homemade potato cannons. I’m sure they go by other names, spud guns, potato launcher, hairspray bazooka, baby-hand-blower-offer, etc, but for the sake of consistency I’m going to refer to them as potato cannons.

Now the first question your probably asking yourself is “Why would you build something so dangerous?” and my answer to you would be, because it’s awesome and why wouldn’t you want to blow shit up with a cannon that shoots household starch missiles. Following that answer I would inform you that all you need are a couple pieces of PVC pipe, pipe cement, a gas grill igniter and hairspray… like I said, even a child could make one. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that will show you how to make one yourself so I’m not going to go step-by-step and explain it. When we made them they were pretty similar to this guy’s, except we did not jam a large lighter in the hole… that’s just dumb. Instead we installed a gas grill igniter with wires attached to it to produce the spark in the ignition chamber. We do agree with this guy that Aquanet is by far the best hairspray for the job.

So now that you have an idea of what I’m talking about, and you’ve already planned out when you’re heading to the hardware store to pick up supplies to make your own, I’m going to tell you a little story about our summer between Freshman and Sophomore years in college.

Bored college kids are nothing to mess around with, we got ourselves into loads of trouble that summer… or at least we should have, if we had gotten caught, the least of which was due to our use of potato cannons. Three cannons were built in one day, each having a longer barrel than the next because we were dumb and thought that a longer barrel would make the potato go further… in reality it just makes them slightly more accurate. And I do mean slightly. It was probably mid-June and we were all hanging out in our buddy’s backyard shooting potatoes up into the hair when we decided to change things up a bit and shoot at the fence off in the distance. It was a large backyard so we didn’t think that it would do any damage to the wooden fence. A small spud was loaded into the cannon and aimed towards the wall of wood…. BAM! With enough for to kill someone, this potato shot out of the cannon and went straight through the wooden fence and into the neighbor’s backyard. Nobody was hurt, neighbors didn’t hear it, but we decided it was time to find a new location.

As we’re loading up the cars to head to our second artillery range of the day, one of my friends decided that he wanted to pull some “Jackass” type stuff and get shot with a potato… Now I don’t know what’s wrong with this kid, but after I saw the potato slam through the wooden fence there was no way I was about to stand in it’s way. But what did we care, he was the one that was going to get hurt. So we made our way over to our other friend’s house and unloaded the cannon. Everyone took their positions, Friend A at one end of the lawn, hunkered down with a hockey helmet on ready to get dead from a potato, and Friend B at the other end with the cannon armed and ready.

The first shot went off and completely missed; these things are incredibly hard to aim. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and probably 5th shot all missed their mark, none of them even coming very close. By this point we were starting to get bored and wanted to move closer just so we could hit him, but he refused to let us move. We loaded up our last shot of the day and took aim. BAM! Potato flew through the air over his head again and slammed through the bushes and out the other side… and that’s when we saw it. A person had just walked out of the forest preserve next to the house and directly behind where we were shooting. I half expected him to come running over asking us to call 911 claiming he had just been shot, but unfortunately we had missed that target as well. Even with the longer barrels, accuracy wasn’t our strong suit.

With the target shooting a bust we decided to head over to our old high school and launch potatoes over the football field grand stands from the parking lot. We were probably shooting for close to an hour or so when we saw a car making it’s way towards the back end of the lot where we were. It didn’t look like a cop, but we weren’t sure so we made like we were packing up. Turns out it wasn’t a cop and just some guy that was coming to pick up his daughter from soccer practice. Now by this point we weren’t shooting the potatoes over the grandstands anymore and instead were shooting them towards a large tent they had set up near the baseball fields. So the man walks up to us as we’re shooting the last of the spuds and asks what we’re doing, what we’re shooting, what propellant we’re using, etc. He’s generally interested. Then he mentions that he’s glad we’re not shooting over the grand stands because there are a bunch of girls practicing soccer over there! We had literally shot more than 1/2 a full bag of potatoes over the grand stands already not knowing there were girls running around out there. Needless to say we shot the last of our ammo and packed it up before the girls made it to the parking lot. We didn’t want to stick around to hear about a girl being hit with a flying potato while dribbling a soccer ball.

So there you have it, the first installment of “True Life Fridays”. I have a ton of things I can write about so expect a new one every week. Like I said, some of them might be boring as hell, some of them might be hilarious, guess you’ll just have to read them to find out. In the meantime, have fun making your own potato cannons and we’d love to hear your stories.

[picture courtesy of]