Thursday, March 22, 2007

My new book Whoosh Boom Splat - The Garage Warrior's Guide to Projectile Devices comes out next Tuesday (March 27). I plan to describe it fully in the days to come. It's a neat book and is similar to Backyard Ballistics (my first book) but with all new projects - including how to make and use your own blowgun.

That projects is roughly based on the yagua blowgun. After researching and building numerous such devices I can tell you that blowguns are amazing devices with an interesting history. As much as I like them, building them and especially using them is not for everybody, but those who enjoy a challenge will find it engaging.

Simple blowguns were used by prehistoric hunters to bring down small game. There are many references to breath-powered shooters by classical Roman and Greek historians. In fact, they were used all over the ancient world. There is a long and quite rich history of blowgun use, especially in places such as Japan, pre-Columbian America, the Pacific islands and of course, the Amazon rainforest,.

The hunter in the picture above is a Brazilian Indian and comes from a nineteenth century woodcut. He is holding a blowgun called a zarabatana. Here's info on the blowgun:

A short passage on Amazon blowgun construction from a travel diary-like book by a college professor from Ohio ("Don't Drink The Water," by Ida May Sonntag - 1980). She details her experiences during vacations and sabbatical leaves:

"The people along the river are largely of Indian descent. I was able to barter for a Zarabatana (blowgun) with a member of the Maku tribe. This weapon is a simple yet precise hunting instrument. Only small game is hunted and contrary to popular belief is not used for warfare. The shaft is made of pachuiba (palmwood) while the mouthpiece is made of Brazilwood attached with a tree resin. Dart cases are made of woven palm strips and the darts are made of palmwood with wild kapok cotton stabilizers. With practice the Indians can hit small birds at 100 ft."

For more info on Whoosh Boom Splat and blowpipes, zarabantana, fukiya, yagua, and other blowguns click on the Amazon link for located to the side of this blog. It provides information and does not obligate you to buy anything.

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