Feasibility of an Urban Trebuchet Range


A collective of  drinkers beer enthusiasts (the proponent) recently mused about opening a trebuchet range in a residential neighborhood. The trebuchet was used throughout medieval times by using nature’s most powerful force; gravity.  The weapon fell out of popularity in the 1500’s when the final trebuchet committed suicide at Tenochtitlan by dropping it’s own projectile on itself. However, the mystique and splendor of the trebuchet makes it ripe for revival in the modern market.


1. People like shooting stuff. We can only assume that they will like launching things at great distances as well. There is an astonishing lack of opportunities to use medieval weaponry within city limits, and the proponent feels that this would present a viable recreational activity.

2. There is no shortage of novel things to use as projectiles. A short brainstorming session revealed that there is no shortage of items to load into the trebuchet. Rocks and diseased corpses are traditional trebuchet projectiles (Wikpedia 2010) but modern options are virtually limitless. Electronic devices, old appliances, food, and memorabilia from past relationships are obvious choices.

3. There is nothing to do in this city. The proponent claims that people would choose medieval weaponry over other traditional evening activities. However, it is noted that the best business plan would combine the trebuchet range with a relaxing pub atmosphere.

4. Rising levels of rage. Pie charts all over the internet show (and contribute to)  rising levels of anger in our society. The proponent wishes to capitalize on this market of ragey urbanites and provide an outlet for their anger. Qualified therapists and life coaches could be add on services at the trebuchet range.


1. Lack of general knowledge about medieval weaponry. A general poll conducted (FNP: 2010a) revealed that not everyone is educated on their medieval weaponry. The proponents expect that this is a minor education issue and once public is aware that they are able to launch objects great distances they will be on board with the trebuchet.

2. Safety. Safety is an obvious concern given the proponents’ proclivity to consume vast quantities of alcohol. The Proponent often demonstrates poor decision-making skills on many of their adventures (FNP 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010b).

3. Shortage of trebuchet manufacturers/repairers. While many plans are available on the internet, pre-fabricated trebuchets are virtually impossible to find. The proponent would have to build and maintain their own trebuchet. Given the proponents’ lack of success at finding contractors to re-tile their bathrooms, this seems incredibly unlikely.


The project would be sited in a large open area such as a school playground. A 2009 pumpkin chunking contest employed a trebuchet to project a pumpkin 620 meters and thus a clear space of approximately 1 km is recommended. As a 1 km open space is difficult to find within city limits, the proponent could also consider 400 m adjacent to abandoned, ugly, or offensive buildings such as their local MPs’ headquarters.  Firing projectiles over a body of water is also an attractive option, although there is less opportunity for splatter.


It is unlikely unclear whether permits can be obtained to fire any kind of short-range projectile within city limits. However, should munitions permits be unattainable, the proponent feels that the project could be classified as demolition rather than recreational munitions, and customers could be classified as “amateur” demolitionists.

Siting will determine required permits. Should a school athletic field be chosen, permits will include authorization from the board of education and parental permission forms. Signs would have to be erected during school hours for children to stay away from the trebuchet, although the proponent is confident that children would show no interest in a large weapon that can fling things several city blocks.

A more viable option may be to choose a location where projectiles would be launched into a watercourse. Projectiles would sink to the bottom of the watercourse providing spawning habitat. This could be sold to companies looking to satisfy their compensation requirements for projects in streambeds. However, there may be safety concerns for navigability and wildlife in the area. Wildlife concerns could be addressed by ensuring that all meat is donated to local food banks.


This project would be a popular addition to the urban recreational landscape. However, general safety concerns and a total lack of motivation on the part of the proponents are likely inhibitors to the project.


FNP. 2010a. A casual conversation with one person on the phone about a trebuchet. Unpublished.

FNP. 2010b. Anecdotal evidence that we are idiots. Unpublished.

FNP. 2009. Anecdotal evidence that we are idiots. Unpublished.

FNP. 2008. Anecdotal evidence that we are idiots. Unpublished.

FNP. 2007. Anecdotal evidence that we are idiots. Unpublished.

FNP. 2006. Anecdotal evidence that we are idiots. Unpublished.

Wikipedia. 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trebuchet. I can’t be assed to look for real references.


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