Blowgun Amusement


April 24, 2014, 09:00 PM
On a whim, I picked up one of these:

It was only eleven bucks, and shipping was free with Amazon Prime.

For those that can't follow the link, that's a Predator 36", 40 caliber blowgun.

I set up a cardboard box with a 3.5" circle drawn on it, got back about 20 feet and tried my luck. At first I could barely keep the darts on the box, but after two days, I managed this:

For what it is, it's capable of surprising accuracy. The darts are basically four-inch needles with little cups at the end. They will easily perforate an empty soda can and pin it to the backstop for good measure. At closer range it'll be deadly against bugs.

My only complaint is that it was unnecessarily hard to assemble the darts. The trick is as follows:

1) Grasp the shaft of a dart about an inch from the sharp end with a pair of pliers.

2) Allow the cup to sit upright on a piece of scrap wood, and slowly press the sharp end of the dart all the way through the cup to the other side. Try to go in as straight as you can.

3) Pull the cup free, reverse the shaft so your pliers are now an inch or so from the dull end, and force the dull end into the hole you just made until you are just short of coming through the other side. It won't come apart now under normal use, don't be too worried if it's not perfectly straight, it matters less than you probably think.

My current technique is to hold the mid shaft of the blowgun with my right hand, and the mouthpiece with my left. When I stand square to the target and focus on it, I see two images of the front sight. The dart will strike exactly in the middle of those two images. (I've noticed that if I reverse my hand positions, the dart will not longer strike in the middle - I suspect it has to do with eye dominance but I really have no idea).

The first trick is to not move the shaft after blowing the air in. The second trick is to continue to provide breath until the dart exits the muzzle. The third trick is to deliver the same amount of air for each shot. It's fun, but it's not easy. It feels kind of like archery.

Anybody else here play with these things?

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April 24, 2014, 10:10 PM
Yes, and I love mine. I have found the same thing with respect to blowing air in the tube. Mine works best when the air pressure is kept in the mouth and blasted into the barrel and continued until the dart is out of the tube. Basically a cartridge is being emulated.

And sharp darts penetrate deeply. I shot into a 4x4 post from about 15 feet away and had to use pliers to pull the dart out of the post.

Quiet, accurate, inexpensive, and fun.


April 24, 2014, 10:24 PM
My kids & I had one 30 years ago.
Lots of good cheap fun!
And amazingly accurate at longer range then I expected too.

The only downside is?
I'm still finding rusty spring steel dart shafts in my lawn mower tires from time to time 30 years later!

Keep them out of 10 year boys unsupervised hands and your lawn mower tires will thank you 30 years from now!


April 24, 2014, 11:13 PM
We used to make our own. A piece of that old kind of garden hose that is really stiff about 2 ft long. Darts were pieces of coat hanger wire sharpened on one end and an appropriate sized cone made of stiff paper and tape on the other.

Fairly amazing how accurate this naturally aiming device really is!


Jim K
April 24, 2014, 11:55 PM
I played with one many years ago, but curare was too hard to get.


April 25, 2014, 11:59 AM
I bought a Cold Steel .625 caliber blow gun for my nephew for Christmas last year. I was very surprised at it's power and accuracy. he was easily hitting the bulls eye in the dart board from across the basement in just a few minutes of practicing. I'm sure it's more than capable of taking small game, but alas, we live in Newyorkistan. It is not legal for hunting. Heck, neither is a sling, or slingshot. We're not even allowed to own the wrist-supported type.

April 25, 2014, 12:50 PM
I'm the "Soke-Dai" for the International Fukiyado Association (IFA). I ran the US National Sport Blowgun Association for three years a while ago, and was tapped to be next-in-line for Dr. Higuchi as his replacement. Been competitively shooting blowguns for over a decade. Search on the US Sport Blowgun Association (run in Layton, OK these days) for information on the sport, free standard target downloads, etc. My training manuals (both "beginners" , and my teaching method) are available in "on demand" print format if you're interested.

I have collaborated with Dr. Amante Marinas, Sr. on these - they are a logical progression to his book (Pananandata: A Guide to Sport Blowguns), and also Mike Janich's book "Blowguns: A Breath of Death".

I, for one, am very happy that this topic came up again. I hope you'll consider starrting up a local competition league and affiliating it with the national organization.

If you're in the area of Berwyn, PA - on May 17 and 18 there will be a competition that I'll be adjudicating, in conjunction with the American Knife Throwing Alliance NE Regional competition. If you're interested, let me know and I can provide details and directions.

I own about a dozen or so blowguns ... .40, .50, .51 (Japanese), and .625 cal. mostly Aluminum aircraft tubing, but also home made paper, bamboo (side blown .... looks like a flute) ranging is size from 4 ft (competition standard), to 5' and 6' (.625 cal.) and 2 ft. extensions. I also have one I modified from the T-2024 (thick walled .50 cal.) 4 ft. that is more of a martial arts weapon (like the thick walled CS .625 Big Bore). Also a blowgun Walking staff (.50 cal), and a fishing blowgun (with a Zebco reel attached).

Very nice grouping, by the way. Keep up the practicing. Competition shooting is from 33 ft. Target is centered at 5'3" above ground. 6 cm, 12 cm and 18 cm circle standard 3-ring bulls-eye target scorng 7 - 5 - 3 points. 5 shots per round, 6 rounds for a perfect score of 210 points. World record is 208 (Japan), 206 (France), 202 (me).

"May your darts always fly true!" (sm)

April 25, 2014, 08:26 PM
I've been a fan for years. A while back I started a thread about a .40 gun I made that looks like a walking stick:

I also have been playing around with one of the Cold Steel .625 and had a special set of darts made:

They're very accurate and fly really well even at long range, though the farthest that is practical seems to be 40 yards.

April 25, 2014, 10:04 PM
I had one 20 years ago and I remember that I could also shoot push pins as well. Better for indoor use as over penetration was not a problem.

Shanghai McCoy
April 26, 2014, 05:50 PM
I've got one that a buddy gave me years ago. Lot's of fun and it will kill a mouse at typical garage range. ;)

April 26, 2014, 07:10 PM
When I was a kid, I used mine to kill mice in the chicken house with some success. I'm not sure how many times I reloaded after killing a mouse before realizing I should wash the dart off before shoving it through the mouthpiece...:barf:

I later began replacing the needles with shorter ring-shank nails (heads removed, plastic caps melted in place). This resulted in quicker kills, but made dart retrieval an unpleasant chore that sometimes required a pair of needle-nose pliers.

I soon graduated into a pellet rifle and never looked back.

April 26, 2014, 08:56 PM
Me & some friends used to make them & have battle with them. Even at school sometimes. (4th grade). We simply used a good plastic straw. Then a even better sewing needle. Start the thread in eye , then spin till you get the desired shape & diameter flight. Very accurate and amazing range.

April 28, 2014, 08:24 PM
I have made many. A piece of 1/2 pvc pipe suffices for the tube. I always made the darts by rolling a cone out of stiff paper like a business card and taping it with duct tape to hold it and then I wrapped the whole cone wth a piece of duct tape that also holds a small nail with a head pushed through from the back. After you tape it you put the "dart into the tube as far as it will go and spin it. It leaves you a nice ring line to cut with your scissors. You will be supprised at how well this works. I can still to this day hit cans at 20-25 feet after shooting a few. When I was younger alot of wildlife ran or flew off with one of my darts. I have killed birds with one but I would hate to be depending on it for food! I could feed myself though as long as there were plenty of birds around.

mac tm
May 2, 2014, 09:48 PM
Like several others have posted, I too made my own in school. A Bic pen barrel plus a straight pin wound with a cone of transparent tape made a nice setup. The darts would stick into the bulletin board from your desk halfway across the room. The real fun was finding a reason to walk past that target during class in order to retrieve your dart.

May 2, 2014, 10:06 PM
I still have my Jivaro blowgun I bought in the early 80's. I use to hunt squirrel and rabbit with it in the back yard. Accurate as all get-out with a minimal amount of practice.

I could easily poke a dart through half inch plywood using lung pressure alone. And I had a LOT of fun playing around with Dad's air compressor at 100 pounds!

Even messed around with poison darts for a short while, but gave the up once I actually tested what I had. Scary frickin' dangerous, it was.

You could buy the cone darts, but I never did. It came with a string of plastic beads and several pieces of piano wire...clip the wire to length, heat one end and poke it into a plastic bead and you had a dart. I can't find them specific for my blowgun any more, but you can buy plastic beads of exactly the right size, piano wire too, from McMaster-Carr.

It's in the corner of my closet right now...I wouldn't give it up for the world!

May 2, 2014, 11:28 PM
These things are a blast. My brother bought one years ago, along with tons of darts of all different types. We spent a lot of time messing around with it and got pretty good at shooting them. Definitely a cheap form of entertainment.

May 4, 2014, 09:20 PM
Want to entertain pre-pubescent boys for hours on end? Buy 2 and take them to grandma's backyard to shoot figs off the tree. I can still taste that sticky mess on the mouthpiece several years later.

May 7, 2014, 04:07 AM
I have a blow gun too and it would work slick on these ringneck doves in town but the legislators keep messing with the laws. First you had to be 150 yards from a dwelling to shoot a firearm....then they changed it to anything that might produce bodily injury.....

September 1, 2014, 11:50 AM
Hi there Peeps!
Just got a blowgun. It's marvelous. Even with impaired lungs, we can put a dart through a piece of cardboard at about 20 feet. Looking to find a "disabling" gunk that would work to kill or disable small game (squirrels, rabbits, birds, etc.) quickly and painlessly. Has to be harmless we can eat the game. Have researched nicotine, but it's hard to concentrate enough to work well. Poison dart frogs aren't available in the USA (even on the black market)
Any ideas?

Sam Cade
September 1, 2014, 02:44 PM
Any ideas?

I suggest you take a took at your local game laws before even considering this.

September 1, 2014, 04:21 PM
One of my soldiers has a blow gun. He has gotten pretty good taking out squirrels from the second floor of his home in his backyard.

September 1, 2014, 04:22 PM
Looking to find a "disabling" gunk that would work to kill or disable small game
Barking up the wrong tree there, mate. Besides legal prohibitions in many areas, you don't need "gunk" for small game. Dart will do them in just fine. It might surprise many people to know that only a select few blowgun-using cultures used poison for hunting. They actually used them in medieval France and Italy to hunt birds using clay or metallic bullets. Birds are susceptible to blunt-force trauma due to the hollow bones. These days a sufficiently heavy dart can be made from a large gauge nail or bolt. Ground critters you just need enough of a broad-head to create an adequate wound channel or you need to shoot at things next to wood so they will get pinned in place. And with fish, just need barbs and either a line system or floatation, depending on the current and size of the target.

September 3, 2014, 12:42 AM
Ditto on Sam and glistam's postings.

You're going to have a hard time finding legal justification for using poisoned darts, which is what you're talking about. As a young and dumb teen (or perhaps a too-smart-for-my-own-good teen), I experimented with some stuff, but I don't recommend it for a variety of reasons.

One, of course, is the legal problem. This can land you in hot water.

Another is the issue with handling such toxic substances. I'm not saying you can't handle them properly, but there are other aspects to such material that people don't think about. Such as storage and keeping children away from them, as well as eventual disposal down the road. And then there is how these things interact with the rest of the environment after you kill/dispose of the critters. Some toxins, such as rattlesnake venum, breaks down when heated (cooked or burned). Others, such as arsenic or cyanide compounds, do not break down safely.

Practice until you're a good shot and take down the small critters with plain darts. It's better that way!

I still have my Jivaro blowgun I bought when I was a teen. It came with a string of beads and several foot-long lengths of piano wire with which to make your own darts. You could buy the cones (like most blowgun companies almost exclusively sell with their blowguns), but they're much more expensive and, in my opinion, not really necessary. All you did was clip the piano wire to length (about 3 inches or so), heat one end up with a lighter, and push it aboutl half-way into a bead and you had a dart.

You can buy beads and piano wire at McMaster-Carr, sized to suit and make hundreds of darts much cheaper than you can buy the conical darts made for your blowgun. Go to their site and search "polypropylene balls" and "piano wire":

I don't know what size you have, but they have polypropylene balls all the way up to 1 inch in diameter. I think mine is 3/8 inch, but I don't have it handy to check.

September 5, 2014, 03:27 PM

If you want to get into competitive shooting ... This book is my teaching method.

International competition (down and dirty rules) 4 ft. long barrels, .4 or .5 cal (some use .625) standard target darts. .4 cal darts weigh 0.8 gm. .5 cal. weigh 1 gm. 0.625 darts are heavy, at 3 gm.

Target face - 6 cm diam bullseye for 7 points, 12 cm inner circle for 5 points, 18 cm outer circle for 3 points. Center at 5'3"

Shoot 5 darts from 33 ft, six rounds. Score each round. Perfet score is 210 points.

World record currently held in Japan is 208 points, France has 206 points, I shot a 202 for the US.

September 5, 2014, 03:31 PM
MikeJackmin, Where are you from? I can possibly get you in touch with other blowgunners in your area via the US Sport Blowgun Association. The national organization is based now in Oklahoma.

September 5, 2014, 06:53 PM
Some buddies and I bought some .40 blowguns from a flea market nearly 20 years ago. Not only were they are lot of fun shooting at tin cans and the like, but they also made paintball conversions for them.

There was this little extension that held about 10 or 15 little paintballs vertically. You'd press a button and a ball would fall into the chamber. You could rattle off a whole tube of ammo as fast as you could puff and click in the button.

It was a lot of fairly safe fun that kept a gaggle of 16-17 year old boys out of trouble;). The only problem is that we did this after football season around October/November. Those little paintballs need to be warm to bust open. If not, it feels like you're getting tagged by a wasp.

September 5, 2014, 07:25 PM
I use one of the Cold Steel big bore blow guns, and the penetration is impressive. The mini broad heads, once sharpened, will easily penetrate both sides of an old leather boot made of thick leather. Likewise, a large bird.

September 9, 2014, 11:34 AM
Check out the Cold Steel thick wall barrel. The thickness of the wall makes this as deadly a hand weapon (think Jo Stick). Years ago, I picked up a 4 ft. T-2024 thick walled tube in 0.50 cal. for that same purpose. When you see the standard .50 cal. blowguns in competitions (usually black), and then this silver beauty comes out .... head turning quotient skyrockets!

Also, a lot of competitive shooters like to use a heavier barrel, or add barrel weights (acts like the stabilizers ... anti-torsion) on slingshots, to reduce or prevent barrel jump when you shoot. Those weights are very popular in the JFSA (Japan national competition circuit). I use a barrel mounted laser sight (not powered, as they are illegal in competion, and also useless, as the beam is 3 cm in diam at 10 meters, while the the bulls-eye is 6 cm) as a barrel weight.

September 13, 2014, 03:18 AM
We made blow guns back in the '60s from 1/2" glass tubes (4') :what:. With homemade 5" spring steel darts. The darts were steel wire wrapped with electricians tape to fit the bore. With practice we could hit a playing card consistantly at 10 yards. We decimated the local squirrel population :evil:.

September 15, 2014, 11:15 AM
Four ft. 1/2" glass tubes ... O.D., or I.D. ??? If ID, where did you get them? ... and are they still around? I know blowgunners that would love to get their hands on a 4 ft. glass barrel, if got no other reason than to say that they have one (regardless of how bad or good it shoots!) ROFL. and if the price is affordable, I would too.

September 16, 2014, 08:08 AM
I have a two piece Cold Steel Big Bore .625 that I love. I shoot broadhead steel darts and bamboo darts. I have cheated and used one of those hand held co2 cartridge thingamabobs used to clear lead balls from muzzleloaders as a 900 psi pressure source for high speed/long distance target shooting.
I also sometimes use it as a walking/hiking stick on my walks in the woods around my house. I put a rubber cap on the end to protect the end and keep the darts in a leather lined zippered belly pack.

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