How to Increase the Firing Distance of a Catapult

So you decided to build a catapult. Now it is finished and ready to fire. Your excitement builds as you pull the release mechanism, then pop. Your ammo sails a few feet and falls to the ground with a disappointing bang. So much for your plans to hurl water balloons at your neighbor on the other side of the fence. You feel the sting of defeat. What went wrong? Why didn’t it work? Do not despair, my friend, because I may have a solution to your problem. The next few paragraphs explain some of the things you can do to increase the firing range of your siege engine.

Check your construction. Make sure your catapult is built correctly. Improperly assembled parts or loose parts can affect the efficiency of your machine. One of the largest areas of energy loss in a catapult is at the pivot points. Wherever something rotates, there is friction. Make sure the parts move freely without binding. Lubrication may be required depending on your design. If your pivot is a wooden axle through a hole drilled in another piece of wood, make sure it’s not too tight. If the fit is too tight, sand lightly until a correct fit is achieved. If there is too much play, replace the piece of wood with the hole in it with a new piece with a smaller hole. Too much play can also lead to energy loss.

More excitement! Many catapults are built using springs, bungee cords, or surgical tubing as a source of tension for the firing arm. Upgrade them! Replace your existing springs with stronger springs. The same applies to bungee cord rubber bands. Replace the existing ones with something stronger. You can also add (double) more feathers or cords to the existing ones. If you have an onager, try wrapping the line attached to the throwing arm a little tighter. This increases the tension and power of the throwing arm when released. One thing to keep in mind if you want to increase spring tension: make sure the frame and firing arm are strong enough to withstand the increased tension. You don’t want your siege engine to explode when fired. You may need to reinforce the frame and throwing arm to achieve this.

Hail to the trebuchet! Ah, the mighty trebuchet. It is by far my favorite of all siege engines. It is much more sophisticated in design than other types of catapults. When properly tuned, distance and accuracy are incredible. Getting to this point can be a real pain in the back end if you’re not sure what to do. You can build a trebuchet that works, or one that works really well. I have a small tabletop model that can hurl a small wooden cannonball about 20 feet through my basement. If I put a 9 inch paper plate on the ground as a target, I can land any shot on the plate. I achieved this accuracy by simply making adjustments to the sling (length matters!). Read on to find out how to set up your trebuchet.

As I mentioned above, pivot points are friction points. Excessive friction means loss of energy. Make sure the throwing arm pivot moves freely without binding. Adjust as needed. If your trebuchet has a folding counterweight, make sure that pivot also moves freely. While we’re on the subject of counterweight, remember that the farther the counterweight falls, the more energy is available to the limb. Raising the height of the main axis (pivot of the limb) and lengthening the limb allows the counterweight to move further when released. Increasing the weight of the counterweight will also help. Note that changing the length and height of the limb requires an adjustment of the sling. Slings are a very critical part of a well tuned trebuchet. Incorrect lengths can cause the sling to come loose at the wrong time. This can result in a high arc at a very short distance or a low arc at a short distance. Experiment with the sling length for the longest distance. Make sure the pouch isn’t too big for the ammo. This can lead to excessive wind resistance. Use as small a pouch as possible for the size of ammo you are using.

I hope this information is helpful to those who need it. As a final note, while catapults are fun, they can also be dangerous. If you make changes to your catapult, make sure the overall structure can handle the changes. Reinforce as needed. Always use proper safety precautions when firing a catapult. Glasses are always recommended. Keep a safe distance from the machine when shooting. With safety in mind, operating a catapult can be a fun experience for people of all ages. Happy spin!

Thanks to Robert McAvoy | #Increase #Firing #Distance #Catapult

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