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.
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.
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!
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”