Cannons!

When you walk into my living room, you’re greeted by either a muzzleloading mountain Howitzer or a field cannon, depending on what mood I’m in. I purchased my first cannon instead of a sports car as a mid-life crisis when a little spare money came my way. The Howitzer tube (tube is what you call a cannon barrel) is bored to take a beer can full of cement while the field tube fires a golf ball. The Howitzer has a brass tube with a stainless steel liner to add strength, while the field tube is turned steel. Neither are particularly accurate, but with a film canister full of Fg blackpowder the Howitzer will send its projectile completely through a typical house, or I can score an empty can and fill it will .50-caliber roundballs and use it as the mega shotgun Howitzers were meant to be.

Soon after getting the Howitzer I bought a similarly-bored mortar, and it’s my favorite. Again, with a film canister full of Fg it will launch a beer can full of cement completely out of sight and for several hundred yards downrange.

One-hole groups at 200 yards is not uncommon even with smoothbore cannons.

One-hole groups at 200 yards is not uncommon even with smoothbore cannons.

Cannons aren’t exactly something you can pick up at your local Wally World, and they’re expensive. Even so, they’re used by many for reenactments and even shooting competitions.

Typical projectiles used in modern cannon competition are hollow aluminum. They’re often dug out of the backstop and reused.

Typical projectiles used in modern cannon competition are hollow aluminum. They’re often dug out of the backstop and reused.

At Fort Shenandoah in Virginia, reenactors rendezvous each year to outshoot each other with cannons and mortars. It’s perfectly amazing to me to see cannons shoot one-hole, groups at 200 yards. Heck—I have centerfire rifles that can’t do that!

Mortars are surprisingly accurate, too. When competing with mortars, shooters lob their projectiles up and try to hit a stake downrange that’s sticking straight up. A “group” is measured from the perspective of looking down on the hits from above. The distances from the stake to where the projectiles hit are measured and added up and the team with the lowest sum of those distances has the smallest “group.” Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for mortar teams to even hit the stakes!

 

 

Scott Mayer

www.tacticaltshirts.com

www.john1911.com

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

 

Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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  • MickeyG

    Looks like fun !

    • Life goal. To be the old man in the neighborhood who rolls the cannon out of the garage and blasts a few rounds every 4th of July.

      😉

      Marky

      • Brennen Munro

        There was this old guy who used to shoot his “signal” gun everyday at noon in Glasgow. That thing was loud as all get out, and everyday, rain or shine you could count on that thing blasting at noon! He was an old sailing ship master.

        Munro

  • Clayton Ayres

    They have a cannon shoot up here at Camp Grayling i believe twice a year they were here 2 weeks ago. It’s quite impressive to go and watch. You need hearing protection and a spotting scope or very good optics to watch as they shoot 200 to 500 yards away.

  • Randy Shadoe

    It’s not a big canon, but it looks great with well crafted authentic furniture and a .75 caliber turned steel barrel. With 75-100 grains of black powder she makes a wonderful noise!

    • Scott Mayer

      Beautiful!

      • Randy Shadoe

        Thank you Sir.

        • That thing is gorgeous!

          Marky

          • Randy Shadoe

            Thank you Sir. She is a beauty.

  • Brennen Munro

    If the “weekender” guys are this accurate, can you imagine how good the cannon cockers got during war time?! I remember a story I heard when I was a kid about one of the very many battles during the American Civil War. During the battle, there was a guy in a stone building who would pop up and take well placed shots into the Union lines, this so pissed who ever was commanding that section that he rode over to the Arty guys and told them what he wanted. They determined about what the interval of time was between when he would “pop up”, and timed their shot to pass cleanly through the window and between the ears of the guy who was popping up and shooting! I had always thought that it was just a tall tell, but after reading about how accurate those old guns are, now I am not so sure…

    Munro

    • I have read some amazing accounts of marksmanship during the civil war. Nothing surprises me.

      Marky