zondag 19 januari 2014

Building a 11mm blowgun with Aquarius mouthpiece.

This is a short instruction on how to build an aluminium blowgun for needle darts, shown here on the right (next to the big bore blowgun).

The blowgun is made from 11x12.8mm seamless, round aluminum tube, 1200mm long (bought from the local hardware store as curtain rod).

It is suitable for use with darts that have a 10mm diameter.

The blowgun has NO protection against inhaling the dart but does have a magnetic dart retention system.

The material for this blowgun costs less than €10, not including the darts.

The mouthpiece is made from the cap and neck of an Aquarius PET bottle. First, empty the bottle and cut off the bottle's neck as sketched below.
Remove the sliding sleeve from the cap and make a hole that the stem of the cap will fit through.

Remove the rim from the stem.

The sliding sleeve is then placed back on the cap with the flared side towards the bottle. Some glue keeps the sleeve on the cap. Remove sharp edges and burrs from both sides of the aluminum tube, and make a small taper on one side.

Use a conical reamer to widen the ribs inside the cap so that the aluminum pipe will be able to pass through.

Now, heat the modified cap in hot water from the tap to soften the plastic. Insert the tapered end of the aluminum tube from the bottle-side into the cap.Wear a glove and pus the aluminum pipe through the cap. Re-heat the cap if required. Let the cap cool down when the tube emerges from the other end.

Again, a rare-earth magnet will keep the dart in place just below the mouthpiece.

Fix the magnet to the outside of the aluminum tube with some paracord wrap.

Add some more paracord wrap as a handle.

Trim the clear plastic PET from the bottle to make it fit comfortably around your mouth, and remove sharp edges using some sandpaper.

And now, enjoy!

zaterdag 11 januari 2014

Building a big bore blowgun for Coldsteel darts

This is a short instruction on how to build an aluminium Coldsteel-style big bore blowgun, shown here on the left (next to the 11mm blowgun).

The blowgun is made from 16x19mm seamless, round aluminium tube, 1500mm long (bought here).

It is suitable for use with Coldsteel big bore blowgun darts with 5/8" (15.875) diameter.

The blowgun has a protection against inhaling the dart and a magnetic dart retention system.

The material for this blowgun costs less than €10, not including the darts.

The mouthpiece is made from a 30mm length of round 100mm PVC tube. Or in my case, from two 30mm lengths of round 50mm PVC tube which was what I have in stock. Saw both 30mm rings in half, leaving you with 4 pieces of PVC, measuring ~78mm x 30mm. Here are the pieces shown next to a blowgun 'I prepared earlier'.

Heat three of the PVC pieces and form them on a 100mm round form, so they fit together seamless without stress. I Used a hot air blower to heat the PVC. Be careful not to melt your workbench ;-)

Next, glue the pieces together with PVC glue, clamp and let dry.

Form the mouthpiece using a Dremel (or in my case, a "Ferm"). Leave a 20mm x 20mm area in the center the full thickness, this is where the aluminium tube will be glued in. Taper the mouthpiece towards both ends. Do not machine the mouth side of the mouthpiece.

Drill a 19mm hole in the mouthpiece using a speed drill. Don't drill all the way through, leave ~2mm of material on the 'mouth' side of the mouthpiece.

Ream the hole to 15.8mm (approximately) from the other side using a tapered reamer. Stop reaming when the dart cone just barely fits through the hole. This way, the mouthpiece will act as a protection device, to prevent you inhaling the dart.

De-burr both sides of the aluminium tube and chamfer the inner and outer diameter. Fit the tube to the mouthpiece and make sure that the dart feeds through the mouthpiece into the tube.

Use epoxy (5 Minute Araldite) to fix the mouthpiece to the aluminium tube and let dry.

Determine the correct place for the rare-earth magnet as shown below.

Wrap ~200mm with ~3.5m Paracord in a color of your liking. Wrap of the magnet to fix it in place. Loop the end of the paracord onder the last 5 wraps. Cut and melt the cord to fix in place. The magnet will hold the (metal) dart in place when the blowgun is aimed down.

And here is the end-result. On the left, the big-bore blowgun for 16mm mini broadhead darts, and for comparison a 1200mm blowgun for 10mm needle-darts on the right.

And now, enjoy!

PS: Use of a target like this...

...prevents 'Robin Hood' damage to dart cones like this:

The blowgun, an ancient European weapon.

The blowgun is an ancient European weapon. According to the dutch Wikipedia, this weapon roots primarily in Indonesia, South-Amerika en Japan. 

The section on the European side of the blowgun limits itself to listing some trivia about shooting paper darts. Understandably, the English wikipedia page also does not contain much information on the European history on this weapon. Reason enough for me to write this article!

A Less known fact about the blowgun, is its use as a weapon in Europe. During my research, I happened to stroll across an article by J.A. Loeber Jr. in 'Nederlandsch-Indië Oud en Nieuw', Episode 1 of 1923 (Royal Tropical Institute). In a very interesting and lively written piece, certainly worth of close rading, Mr. Loeber elaborates on his fact finding mission on the use of the blowgun in Europe.

He found his first European blowgun in the Antwerp 'Museum voor Folklore'. This blowgun was used to fire loam projectiles as 'stun dart.

His first inclination is towards the notion that this blowgun was one imported from the Dutch indies into Flanders. Further study revealed that this not true

In Palts (Germany, also Europe) he found another wooden blowgun used for firing loam pellets, next to a tree with stuffed finches. The blowguns originated from Bergzabern (Germany), where the local population used them to hunt finches in winter Vogezen woods. In fact, the still do that today, as shown on this Facebook page of the Boehaemmer Jagdclub e.V. Bad Bergzabern.

He goes on further to describe that around the year 1850 the use of the blowgun to hunt birds was common on the island of Helgoland (Germany). Young men, unable to buy hunting rifles, used the blowgun and got better results than throwing rocks. The birds were stunned and wounded by the impact of the clay pellets and subsequently killed.

Blowguns of that era were made of wood 50cm or longer. Two pieces of wood were carved to enclose a 8 to 9mm channel, forming the barrel of the blowgun. the wooden halves were tied together with rope or steel bands. Pies were used as stundarts, as well as clay pellets.  The use of the blowgun on Helgoland was abandoned around 1890.

The loam or clay pellets were formed using a pair of pliers and a caliber to make them the correct size to fit the blowgun. 

Then, as now, the blowgun was popular with the youth. It used to be more common and accepted that small birds were hunted using the blowgun. But the blowgun was also used for target practice, shooting fresh (soft) loam pellets on a target. This necessitated frequent cleaning of the blowgun bore with a wooden stick.

The Antwerp blowguns were in use since approximately 1880 to scare away birds from the cherry orchards in Boom (Flanders) an by pigeon fanciers. Also, blowguns dart tournaments were held in local bars or taverns, just like the present-day darts.

The artikel (in Dutch) contains many trivia on the blowgun ad is written in a lively manner. I Recommend reading it if you master the language.

The following James Stuart Koch article describes the history of the blowgun in the era preceding te one described in the article above.

The origin of the blowgun is generally accepted to be somewhere in the lost pre-history. One assumes that this weapon has been invented an re-invented in several times an places in history around the globe, because of its simplicity. The simplest form is a hollow tube from natural material like bamboo or river cane. Bamboo is the most obvious material for blowguns for its form and availability. The diaphragms between the bamboo sections must be removed by either drilling through them or by splitting and re-assembling the bamboo. 

Blowguns made of bamboo have been found on all continents. They were used for hunting birds and other small game and as children's toys.

Another variant of the blowgun is made from a solid wood rod. The wooden rod is drilled using a long drill bit. This was done for instance by the dayaks in Borneo.using a long drill bit powered by hand. The image below shows a drill rig used for that purpose. The blowgun-to-be is placed vertically through a platform foe easy access. 

Foto Don Chesnut.
These blowguns are fabricated from hardwood ans often equipped with a spearhead to double as a spear.
The Dayaks used darts coated with a poison (sap of Ipuh or Iren tree) in their blowgun to hunt. The darts are made from palm leaves fletched with cotton like material or animal fur.

In modern France you can find a combination of Yoga/ blowgun practice: Le Sarbacana (Sarbacane = Blowgun). 

Bamboo (Canne) Sarbacane, frmo 19th century France.

This century-old form of blowgun practice (since 1991...) revolves around the use of a special breathing technique.  Michel Lawrence Dioptaz, shown in the picture below, pioneered and promotes this activity. The blowgun used has a large (17.2mm) diameter and the darts are relatively heavy, at 8 to 20 gram. This is a vague application of the blowgun and thus not easy for me to comprehend. But is does provide beautiful pictures!

From wanabee-ninja's it is but a small step to the real ninja's. 

The Shinobi, as is their real name, are secret agets in feudal Japan. The blowgun as just one of the many weapons that they mastered. The Shinobi blowgun, the Fukiya, was usually reasonably short measuring at most 120cm.

Fukiya is also the name of the blowgun sport in Japan and also features in the name of the International Fukiyado Association(IFA). The Japanese use 5 to 20 cm long darts, called fukibari. 

The ninja's also used the blowgun against men, just as the Dayaks did. The fukibari was used to transfer a poison to enhance its effect on the opponent.

In modern  times, the blowgun is in use with veterinarians to facilitate the application of medicines to animals that can not be approached. The medicine or tranquilizer is transferred with a syringe-like dart.

The blowgun is also experiencing a come-back as sports weapon, especially in JapanAmerica en Germany. Fortunately, there is no longer a need to venture into the woods to obtain materials to fabricate a blowgun and darts. A trip to the local hardware store usually is sufficient to find all suitable materials and tools. 

In the west (Europa and USA) blowguns are usually made of aluminium tube, with darts made of wood, plastic or steel with plastic cones.

In de USA lijkt de sport vooral te draaien om de jacht op klein wild, terwijl in Europa het doelschieten centraal staat.

In Japan, the 
glass fiber or even carbon fiber reinforced epoxy tubesglass fiber or even carbon fiber reinforced epoxy tubes are used more frequently. Japanese darts are mostly plastic-foil variants of the paper fukibari used the ninja's in the old days.

For people in the west, this a what a Japanese blowgun athlete must look like:

But you would be wrong. The guy above is Swiss, not Japanese. Blowgunnig Japanese look much more like this: 
Massive crowds in modern sportswear in action in neatly organised gyms. The International Fukiyado Association(IFA) has approximately 20.000 members!

A Description of the modern blowguns shown below can be found elsewhere on this blog. The first one is made from a 1200mm long 
12.7mm aluminum curtain rod. It has a inner diameter of 10mm (.40 Caliber). A Hexagonal aluminum tube supports the main tube and the mouthpiece is fabricated from an Aquarius PET bottle.

The blowgun can be used to shoot home made darts as well as .40 caliber commercial needle darts.
 The handle is wrapped with paracord.
This is my version of the blowgun shown on blasrohr-sport.de (Under Bauanleitungen). Stormdrane's blog is a good source for paracord wrapping ideas.

Shooting needle darts is fun, but shooting .625 caliber darts is funner! Look here for directions on how to build a blowgun for 'Coldsteel' .625 mini broadhead darts. The mouthpiece is made from PVC and the handle is also wrapped with paracord.

Here is a close-up of the mouthpiece with protection against inhaling the darts. 
This blowgun also has the Neodymium magnet to keep the metal dart in place.

Read more about blowguns:
Ninja – 忍者
International Fukiyado Association(IFA) met Forum
A Brief History Of Primitive & Traditional Blowguns, James Stuart Koch
Blasrohr-sport.de (in German)