Blowguns are tubes for shooting darts by the power of breath. Used all through Southeast Asia with poison tipped darts, they were also employed by the North American Seminole Indians, though, without poison.
The Seminole and Cherokee used lengths of cane or bamboo. The darts were made from splinters (10 inches by 1/8 inch) of bamboo, or straight grained hard woods like oak, maple, or birch. The fletching was often done using thistle down. The thistle would be harvested in late fall when the blossoms have turned to seed pods, but before the down and seeds have emerged, and saved for use all year round. An alternate for the fletching might have been animal fur.
Our project today are designs using more modern supplies. We will also discuss a few options for dart making. For aesthetic reasons we will use bamboo for the pipe, though you can easily use a straw or Bic pen.
length of bamboo
Supplies for variations:
straw or Bic pen
Making the pipe.
If you are lucky and have bamboo near your home cut down a length with a few sections. You want a piece with a hole about 1/4″ down its center. Cut the ends off leaving the knot on at least one end. Now drill through the knot down the center of the bamboo. Lastly, file down the inside of the tube. This can be done with a long drill bit, or sand paper glued or taped onto the end of a slender rod. The smoother the inside the easier the dart will travel through. Smooth the ends, and use the larger end to blow from.
Pull the cap off the pen, pull the ball point and ink reservoir out using pliers, and pull the end cap off. you now have a smooth tube to blow from.
Or use a straw.
Making the Darts-
Cut the hard plastic wrapped end of a shoelace off, leaving about 3/8″ of cord (or lace) behind the tip to act as fletching for the dart. Now press a straight pin through the end and down the center of the tip until the pin comes out the tip. You have a finished dart.
Paper cone dart
Roll a 1″ tall cone out of paper, Krazy glue it closed (just a little glue), press a straight pin through the open end of the cone. You have a finished dart. These are not as sturdy as the shoelace dart. But work as well
Push pin and Cotton ball dart
Wet the blunt end of a push pin with a small amount of Krazy glue. Tear small amounts of cotton off the ball and twist it lightly around the rear of the pin so that the cotton builds up. You have a finished dart. These work a treat for as long as they last.
Place the dart in the mouth end of the pipe and blow! These darts will stick into cardboard easily and even wood and drywall.
And as always, this is a guide. Make variations to suit the supplies and time you have. That’s what the natives did.
RULES AND PRECAUTIONS:
TAKE A BREATH BEFORE YOU PLACE THE PIPE IN YOUR MOUTH.
DO NOT BREATH IN WITH THE PIPE IN YOUR MOUTH, YOU COULD SWALLOW THE DART.
DO NOT SHOOT THE DARTS STRAIGHT UP IN THE AIR. DARTS CAN COME DOWN ON YOUR EYE AND BLIND YOU! YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE DART FALLING BACK TOWARD YOUR EYE. SO DON’T DO IT.
DO NOT SHOOT AT (OR NEAR) OTHER LIVING BEINGS. THEY WON’T LIKE IT OR THINK IT FUNNY.
BE SAFE. HAVE FUN!