How to Build a Simple Toy Catapult in Minutes
What is a catapult, and what does it do?
A catapult is a tool used to throw large objects over a long distance. They were also used to throw large rocks covered in tar that were set on fire over a distance. In battle, the catapult was used mainly as a siege engine to smash castle walls and combined with fire to burn wooden structures. Sometimes a catapult bucket would be filled with metal shrapnel such as nails that were then fired over the top of castle walls with the intent to maim as many of the enemy as possible.
The catapult I show how to build only fires a table tennis ball, but it is a fun toy and can be used in a target game.
Clay pigeons used for shooting practice and sport are fired from a modern-day catapult. The trap machine uses a mechanical arm to fire the clay pigeon into the air.
How To Build A Toy Catapult
The catapult fires a ping pong ball for a distance of about 20-30 feet, and it can be used to play a fun target game with your friends.
What You'll Need
- Wood Block: It needs to be approx 6"x2"x1".
- Clothespin With a Spring
- 1" Wood Cube
- Popsicle Stick: You can double up and stick 2 sticks together for extra strength.
- Plastic Bottle Cap
- Wood Glue
- Take the 6" block and lay it on a flat surface.
- Glue the clothespin to it, centered lengthwise.
- When the glue has set, glue the 1" cube to the open end of the clothespin.
- Glue the Popsicle stick to the cube.
- Glue the bottle lid to the Popsicle stick, leaving enough space at the tip of the Popsicle stick to push it down with the tip of your finger to fire your catapult.
How to Use Your Catapult
- Load your catapult by placing a ping pong ball into the bottle lid.
- Move your catapult around to aim at your target.
- When ready to fire, hold down the front end of your catapult, pull down the Popsicle stick with the tip of your finger, and release.
Modern Day Catapult
The Human slingshot is also a modern day catapult, seen at fairgrounds around the world, people are securely strapped in and catapulted 100-150 feet up in the air.
Catapult Target Game
When you have finished building your catapult there is a fun target game that you can easily set up and play.
Line up 5 paper cups and write scores on them 10 points on the cups on the outside 20 points for the next 2 cups and 50 for the center cup.
Target Game Rules
- Take turns to aim and fire the catapult at the cups. The first person to score 100 points wins.
- If the ball goes into the cup, you score the points on that cup.
- If the ball bounces before it goes into a cup, you score half of the points marked on the cup.
- If the ball goes into the cup and bounces back out you again, score half of the points marked on the cup.
- If by some miracle the ball goes into one cup and bounces out and into another cup, you score the points marked on both cups.
Making a Simple Catapult
When I was young, a very long time ago, toys bought from a store were a luxury that was saved for birthdays and Christmas and when we were bought new toys we treasured them and played with them as little as possible.
That does not mean that we did not have any fun when we went out to play with our friends, most of the time when out playing, a soccer ball was all we needed and using our jumpers for goalposts we would play soccer until the sun dissipated from the sky and the moon smiled down on us usually with a score of 146 to 145 or some other outlandish numbers.
When we were not playing soccer we would make our own toys such as a catapult, a crossbow and bolts, bows and arrows, and swords. and chase each other around with them.
Considering our age group was between nine and twelve years old at that time you will understand that our weapons were crude but they worked really well and provided hours of fun. A few months ago, I made the same toys for my sons and they are now getting adept at making them for themselves and their friends.
© 2006 James Paterson