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Team Urban Siege Ready for Chunkin!

That's right folks. Chunkin time is here! Team Urban Siege finally finished work on our new trebuchet to the point where we could fire it. Last Sunday, October 23, 2011, at 2PM we pulled the trigger for the first time on this new machine. And it fired perfectly! We broke a strap on our old and very worn pouch that we'd been using for 3 years (and in hindsight it did get hung up pretty bad on the last chunk of 2010), but the punkin flew out beautifully. We then moved the machine (mostly assembled) to a more suitable location for hurling (that first shot was taken right next to the shop we were working out of) at Wendel's Poultry Farm. The second shot came roughly an hour later than the first, and with the backup pouch, we got a near carbon-copy of the first shot. Tuning was beautiful for both shots! And best of all, the machine was operating smoothly and nothing major was broken. Only one small feature was found to be a bit weak, and by the time of this post, the issue has long been rebuilt in a much more sturdy way.

Despite cutting the first pieces nearly at the end of July, we managed to get the machine built and ready for this year's chunk. On Tuesday we head down to the field in Bridgeville, DE. The machine will arrive early on Wednesday and we hope to be testing by early afternoon, since we only have a couple of test shots with this machine, and all at a very reduced weight from the designed counterweight. We will begin a slow ramp-up in weight before the chunk and see where we sit on Friday morning for our first competition shot. We're going to have to watch the machine closely as we ramp up of course to ensure we don't destroy things.

We are pumped for this year! The trebuchet division is looking impressive, with a new machine from Yankee Siege, Tired Iron running more weight, Pumpkin Hammer doing the same, as is First in Fright, and the team from Michigan that brought their SMALL trebuchet last year (that shot over 1100 feet mind you) has gotten their new large trebuchet finished and will be bringing that one. American Chucker is still fighting arm issues the last we heard, but we expect they'll be in the running. Oh, and there's that wacky-looking machine crewed by 8000 green-shirted members, Launch-Ness Monster, that cannot be ruled out. Could we see 5 or more trebuchets break Yankee Siege's Delaware mark of 2034 from 2009? Could we see a 2500 foot, or even a 3000-foot shot, this year? Anything is possible, and with the trebuchet lineup looking the way it is, don't rule it out!

Many people want to see what our new machine looks like, how big is it, what kind of design is it, how far does it shoot, etc. All we are saying at this point is to come and see it starting Wednesday in the field at Bridgeville, DE. We don't even have a handle on what we have yet, but the machine came out great. And most importantly, it will not take us a full 8-9 hour day to set it up! That was our major goal, with the secondary goal of throwing further yet to be determined.

We have also been contacted by Sharp Entertainment, the production company in charge of the Science Channel shows on Punkin Chunkin. They will be filming us setting up, the machine firing, and interviewing us on the field. You might well see us on TV on Thanksgiving Night, November 24, 2011, at 8-10PM. If you can, come on down and watch us and the other teams chunk. The mechanical teams (trebuchets, catapults, and torsion) are firing in the morning this year, so come early and see the best parts of the chunk! Either way, check back here at for daily updates from the field in Bridgeville, DE.

Punkin Chunkin on Science Channel

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Use "common sense" when operating trebuchets and catapults. Even little ones can be dangerous. Do not place anything you are not willing to lose in the plane of the arm rotation (this includes yourself, body parts, car windshields, cameras, etc). These catapults and trebuchets are capable of throwing just as far backwards as forwards, and the use of a backstop of some sort is recommended, though the use of one does not make the region behind it safe.

Also, just because the throw got away safely downrange does not mean the end of the danger. The arm is likely still swinging wildly along with the counterweight, and there is a sling whipping around. One thing many people fail to take into account is this sling; some people put a metal ring on the slip end of the sling and this ring can HURT when whipping around!

Have fun hurling, but please KEEP IT SAFE!!!