Doofus Of The Day #887

Today’s award goes to an irresponsible idiot in Wisconsin.

Lisa Kroll went to feed her horses this summer and found a grease-spotted bowling ball on the floor of her barn and a hole in the ceiling. Out in her pasture she found her 5-month-old horse dead with a lump on its head.

Now, a man from Spring Valley, Wis., faces charges of unsafe use of a homemade cannon and endangering Kroll in the incident. There was not enough evidence to show that the cannon killed the horse.

. . .

Neighbors admitted they had fired eight to 10 bowling balls out of the cannon, as well as eight bowling pins. Kroll said she found three bowling balls and three pins on her property.

When questioned by authorities Thorne apologized, saying he didn’t expect anything fired from it to land on anyone else’s property or to hit anyone’s buildings.

There’s more at the link.

One struggles to find words for such stupidity.  The charges seem very mild in comparison to the damage done.  For a start, why wasn’t there ‘enough evidence to show that the cannon killed the horse’?  What else could have done it?

I’ve seen several bowling ball cannon in operation (most recently at the Blogorado gathering last year).  In every case, they were fired from a position that was at least several hundred yards from any other property or buildings.  I’d love to know how far the cannon in this case was sited from the neighbor’s property . . . and how much powder they were using in it.



  1. Where are the Federal Charges for having made an unregistered Destructive Device under the NFA?

    (f) Destructive device.–The term “destructive device” means * * * (2) any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary or his delegate finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.

  2. My compressed air pumpkin cannons would toss a bowling ball about the same distance as the pumpkins and our best shot was about a kilometer (3300').

    Powder would go further I suppose so I'm guessing about or a bit more than a mile.

  3. Mythbusters fired a black powder cannon and it went completely out of their "safe" area and through a wall of a home over 1/2 mile away. A 16lb bowling ball could go at least a mile or more and have tremendous energy. A backstop needs to be used such as a large berm of dirt. These black powder weapons are VERY deadly. They should not be treated as ancient toys.

  4. As Dick said, I would expect any cannon that could shoot a 16 lb bowling ball to be able to put plastic on target at the range of a mile or more. If you cranked in some elevation and a max charge, I'd expect it to go 2 or 3 miles.

    These things aren't toys. They've been lethal on the battlefield for several hundred years. Any idea that they're not lethal today is utter hogwash.

  5. Good Lord! That poor horse! Is it bad that, after getting pissed about the horse, my second reaction was "a cannon? For BOWLING BALLS? Awesome!"? *sheepishly shuffles feet*

  6. Spring Green, entirely too close to Lead Mine…Just saying. Maybe the guy should have his well water checked for lead contamination, because he seems to be missing some very essential brain cells.

  7. Sorry, Spring valley not Spring Green, different end of the state. Still, that is really stupid. Cannons are not toys.

  8. So many people seem to be "the only ones in existence" alongside their friends and family members.
    And, as such, are oblivious to the effects their behaviors have on others and on the surrounding environment.

  9. Put in mind of a gentleman I was once told of who found a large brass cylinder in an old house they were demolishing.
    Had a machine shop drill it out to 2.25 inch bore which by coincidence is exactly the diameter of a beer can.
    He had a fishing shack on the Mississippi river and for fun would fire cement filled cans across the water onto an island mid stream. Used about a quarter pound of black powder as I recall.
    Of course being a navigable waterway the Coast Guard ran periodic patrols, and it was the cannon owner's bad luck to have one of their patrol boats other side of the island when he touched one off.
    He was not charged, but they made him fill the cannon bore with cement before they left.

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