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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.

A simple toy catapult that you can use for target practice games

A simple toy catapult that you can use for target practice games

Modern-Day Catapult

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

Instructions

  1. Take the 6" block and lay it on a flat surface.
  2. Glue the clothespin to it, centered lengthwise.
  3. When the glue has set, glue the 1" cube to the open end of the clothespin.
  4. Glue the Popsicle stick to the cube.
  5. 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

  1. Load your catapult by placing a ping pong ball into the bottle lid.
  2. Move your catapult around to aim at your target.
  3. 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.

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.

----------50---------

------20-------20---

10-----------------10

Target Game Rules

  1. Take turns to aim and fire the catapult at the cups. The first person to score 100 points wins.
  2. If the ball goes into the cup, you score the points on that cup.
  3. If the ball bounces before it goes into a cup, you score half of the points marked on the cup.
  4. If the ball goes into the cup and bounces back out you again, score half of the points marked on the cup.
  5. 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 Jimmy the jock

Comments

Dianna Mendez on March 18, 2018:

I would give one of these as gifts to business people. Great stress reliever!

amy on November 26, 2011:

hi, does anybody have a video of them using this catapult?

Jose on November 25, 2011:

GOOd got a +A

malia on November 22, 2011:

mines not accurate? how can i fix it?

malia on November 22, 2011:

mines not accurate? how can i fix it?

Shannon on October 31, 2011:

How far does this shoot ?

smellmyfart101 on October 25, 2011:

i got a A+ :)

Man in the sky on October 21, 2011:

it was awesome thanks it made a really awesome science fair project

idk on October 19, 2011:

i love this desin

I LOVE THISS!!! on October 06, 2011:

hey jimmy. you just saved my gade 7 progect on romans. ill get back to you in 4 weeks and tell you how it went :)

rhannon killsplenty on September 13, 2011:

at cool hi

? on September 05, 2011:

thx u realy helped for my last min project

finlay parish on September 04, 2011:

thanks for that catapult design helped my bro out a lot

shaymin on August 29, 2011:

I got an A++++++++ for my report

lil girl on August 05, 2011:

can you show me how to make a catapult make a 200g bag of rice go 40cm high and 4m long

tessa on June 13, 2011:

i will make this

D on May 25, 2011:

rock on! i love this site! you guys rock! i am soo excited... From Africa

777 on May 06, 2011:

how much does it weight

Amy Carr on May 01, 2011:

Thank you, Jimmy! You are a lifesaver! :)

jessica on March 27, 2011:

Hi jimmy(: how can you automaticly get the ping pong ball to leave the catapult by just simply pushing a button or pulling a pin for example?

charlotte on March 15, 2011:

is this as easy as it looks

Dobby on March 14, 2011:

snazy

the guy next door on February 17, 2011:

i wounder if that thing really shoots far

tryston dennar on January 31, 2011:

does it show kinetic energy potintial energy and energy tranfer

Troop 31083 on January 11, 2011:

Will be using your design for a Girl Scout Camporee Station. Thanks for including the dimensions of the wood pieces! Now I know why I've been saving popsicle sticks and clothespins!

Marty on January 05, 2011:

Yayyyyyyy We r making this for math carnival thank you for putting it on her- booger

Cookie Monster on January 04, 2011:

how long does it launch

Alexis_angel177 on December 31, 2010:

this awsome

Death_Therapy on December 10, 2010:

That catapult looks pretty cool im going to do it on a school project

Carriella on November 21, 2010:

Hey! I need some help... I have to ulid a catapult that can shoot a beanie baby (about the weight of a lemon) 33 feet. In great need!!! So you think this could shoot it that far?? What if i double the measurements and all?

needs help on November 13, 2010:

can it shoot an egg over a short wall??? and how far???

its for my physics project and its already late...

kiwi8993 on October 29, 2010:

can this catapult make a shot of 10meters distance??

Jimmy the jock (author) from Scotland on October 27, 2010:

Hi Drake it is a ping pong ball in the picture, thanks for your comment, take care and have fun.....jimmy

ey yo name is drake on October 27, 2010:

@jimmythejock -thanks for the info, your a lifesaver ;0 .!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ps my grandson wants to know if that is an egg in the picture?

Quinn on October 04, 2010:

Jimmy you are the man!!!!! it took me 5min to make i used it for my science project. i think that you made a typo though. mine went a yard at the most. anyways thanks jimmy

Angel93134 on September 06, 2010:

Dude u rock! this is helpn loads! WOOT WOOT :D

JellyBean on September 05, 2010:

thx jimmy! I hav seriously 7 days to mak dis and will b headn down to my local bunnings soon..... dude u rock..... PS b4 i make it how far dose it go at its max?? we r ment to make it the best we possible can..... screw u who were insulting Jimmy... some ppl need his help :P also thx ????? for the Idea... will try it...... OMG thx guyz......Im usn this for my science project... it worth 75% OF MY GRADE! hope dis worx :)

Darren Lockyer on September 04, 2010:

Looking at building it..... is it good?. Sorry about loosing the game...

kkawesome101 on July 29, 2010:

this saves my science grade!

lauren on June 08, 2010:

awesome design! keep up the good work!:)

bill on June 02, 2010:

you are great this rocks

JUST SOME LOSER on May 28, 2010:

This thing really helped me a lot thanks for this site!

some kid on May 13, 2010:

thanks you helped me with a extra credit asighnment

Liberty on May 02, 2010:

before i make one how far does it shoot?

hi on April 28, 2010:

I'm making this for my science project! My uncle is cutting wood up for me right now! Hope it goes far so I can win! Thanks Jimmy

Tayla on April 19, 2010:

my dad won't let me make on right now but ill convinse him

eventully

bashar.m on April 16, 2010:

man thanks a lot man u helped me so much with my physics project thanks a lot man

dd on April 15, 2010:

thamks a lot for the information it really helped me a lot.

daniel slonimsky on April 06, 2010:

can you make a catapult made of metal

margeincharge on April 02, 2010:

How far can this launch a small bean-bag?

wyatt (rad guy) on April 01, 2010:

it only goes high not long

tasha on March 30, 2010:

omg ive never seen one of your things lol

Asldjhcv on March 29, 2010:

Awesome idea i have to make a project for school today and i forgot about it until now and its due today!!!!! But i made this and now its all goood!!

njblb on March 24, 2010:

does it work with eggs???

AmyRose123 on March 15, 2010:

its all right

Bob on February 04, 2010:

What's up.thx 4 the Idea

booby on February 04, 2010:

omg this is so kool how long u been doing this i doing sciece prodject on catupults

nr on January 30, 2010:

nice trap

Sally Joe on January 28, 2010:

THis is rad!! :)

help! on January 21, 2010:

i need to build a catapult for pingpong balls. any help??

urlbob on January 13, 2010:

thanx jimmy

skyandbray on December 20, 2009:

awesome i used a large lego for the big block and a broken stamp for the 1 inch and elmers glue

kisgen on December 01, 2009:

how far will it launch a marble?

paige on November 30, 2009:

will this work with a golf ball? do you think it could go about 10 meters with a golf ball?

Nick on November 28, 2009:

I honestly think I might try this for my physics assignment, it seems like a simple, yet effective and clever simple machine, thank you.

Chr1stianMcquir3 on November 24, 2009:

AWESome

Chr1stianMcquir3 on November 24, 2009:

Awseome thanks for the idea

purple on November 11, 2009:

will it lauch a big marshmellow?

Dan on October 24, 2009:

how far can it launch a marble?

Georgia Henry on October 22, 2009:

That desine is fantastic for projects and it,s not hard and im 10!

Alec on September 09, 2009:

Thanks so much i was biting my fingernails to find a catapult i just think it could go abit further

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssffffffffffffffffffffffffffff on September 07, 2009:

thanks you helped me with my project!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ray on September 02, 2009:

thanks for your help dude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

harry parra testies on August 28, 2009:

wow... soooo cool!!!!!

tim harris on July 16, 2009:

Hmmmmmmm, Interesting! D&T at a Hampshire school have built a spring loaded catapult just 1.5 mtrs tall. It fires a cricket ball 215mtrs. Donating it to the sports dept for catching practice. Year 7 will naever be the same.

Blake on June 15, 2009:

I have to do this for tec

dane on June 02, 2009:

thanks its really cool i used it for a project for highschool and its easy to make. i hope i get a good mark.

dane

dane on June 02, 2009:

thanks its really cool i used it for a project for highschool and its easy to make. i hope i get a good mark.

dane

Kristal Mccloud on May 26, 2009:

This didn't help at all I need a catapult that launches like 30ft So other than my D- it got me it was neat but really it needs t launch farther

Coast Mastah on May 25, 2009:

HEY THANX A lot JIMMY, I GOT 7 XTRA CRED. POINTS 4 THIS PROJECT, THANX SOOOOO MUCH

Rachel and Samantha on May 22, 2009:

Hey Jimmy

Thanx so much for the catapult plan, you helped us make a great catapult for our D.T project although i must admit ours looks a lot better than urs!!! haha xx

freddle on May 01, 2009:

thanks i got an a+on my project tht is sweet

tom on May 01, 2009:

sweet

Andrewtheballer on April 27, 2009:

It Works!!! thank you for the idea all though I changed the catapult. I realized that the clothes pin doesn't have very much force to it, so i replaced it with a "Chip Clip." It launched a marshmellow almost 9 feet and is really fun to bug my dogs with!

Andrewtheballer on April 25, 2009:

I need to make a medieval catapult for social studies, can this launch a big marshmellow at least 7 feet.

Carmen on April 18, 2009:

hey im doing a physics project and this is like the most simple design i have seen yet..but will it be able to launch a hackey sack 15 feet?

Madeline, Lisa, and Wendy on April 01, 2009:

Thank you very much for this design! My friends and I needed a simple design for a class project. This makes it so much easier. I will let you know if we win :D

terifo on March 11, 2009:

Thanks for such an easy plan for a catapult!! Someone posted using 5 clothespins to make it go further, but where would you put them?? My son's teacher is having them launch golf balls. Would extending the launch arm make it go further?? (longer lever?)

Thanks again!! We just finished making balloon powered trash cars and it was frustrating for my son with Aspergers. Hopefully this will be easier!!!

mk on March 02, 2009:

thank you so much

Lori on February 24, 2009:

This was help. Thanks

anon on February 22, 2009:

Thanks so much for the tutorial. My nephew will love to have these at his knights themed birthday.

????? on February 21, 2009:

i put 5 closepins and it works

it went 80 meters

Marty on February 13, 2009:

Nice simple catapult. Didn't make 30 meters, but sprung some ideas.

Ray Van Camp on February 10, 2009:

I think it would be perfect for food fights.

koolmoon1 on January 30, 2009:

got more

Ulul on January 25, 2009:

Hi there jimmy,

thanks a lot for the design. I really appreciate it and it helped me a lot for my science project. If u have more designs just post the link to the website here thanks men.

me on January 21, 2009:

hey do you how to make a trebuche some kids in my class made a this same catapault but i want to know how to make a trebuche

Jimmy the jock (author) from Scotland on January 12, 2009:

poop, Ur Face, ptrpogjfe and funnybob181 thankyou for your wonderful contributions to this page, I have your IP Logged and I know that these are all from the same person, i love you too glad you love my "crapy "catapult".....jimmy

funnybob181 on January 12, 2009:

Guess what jimmythefreak. Your face remind's me of your mom's butt engraved on my grandma's meatloaf. Go spend your time somewhere else and do something else than make crapy "catapults".

ptrpogjfe on January 12, 2009:

jimmy the jock is gay