In his updated how-to tome “Backyard Ballistics,” author William Gurstelle offers instruction on Building an edgy array of DIY armaments.
Most Major Metropolitan cities have outlawed such traditional childhood threats as BB guns and slingshots (yes, really, check your local municipal code). Fortunately, however, there are few regulations on homemade carbide cannons, tennis ball mortars and other projectile-launching contraptions described by Minneapolis, Minnesota-based author William Gurstelle in the second edition of his book “Backyard Ballistics.”
And the “nanny state” offers plenty of creative inspiration for Gurstelle. “I think a lot about this idea of being scared to try things, and how we live in an overprotective society and need to take back our ability to make mistakes,” says the writer, whose other books include “The Practical Pyromaniac,” “Building Bots” and “Absinthe and Flamethrowers.” “You read about lawsuits and laws passed to protect us from this and that, but I also think things are changing back a bit. and I often think it’s an excuse people use to not try things that may be a little scary.”
So writing books on making unconventional weaponry out of PVC pipe and other household materials won’t land you on an FBI watch list? “Absolutely not,” laughs Gurstelle. “The government doesn’t care what you do so long as you’re not a jerk, a vandal or an idiot about it and doing the wrong things with your homemade gunpowder or potato cannon. We don’t live in a police state. Nobody is watching us all the time. And the materials you need to make these things are so much easier to buy than when I was a kid, because of the internet. If I want to buy potassium nitrate, I can get bags of it delivered to my house overnight.”
Also a contributor to Wired, Popular Mechanics and Make magazines, Gurstelle notes that “so many boys and girls are growing up in this virtual existence where everything they know has appeared on some sort of screen in front of them. They don’t often get a chance to make or do real things with their own hands. And that’s missing from their childhood. Remember when high schools offered shop classes, where you could actually make something with your own hands? Not anymore. And it’s those experiences that lead to them following careers in science and technology. I hope I can inspire some of that.”