Build an awesome water balloon launcher – this allows you to convert a three man launcher into a one man launcher that is fun for all ages!
We have been on a quest for the perfect water balloon launcher for several years now. In 2012, we built a sling shot out of PVC pipe. It did not launch water balloons at all, although it worked for balls. In 2013, we tried a catapult, and it didn’t work for water balloons either. We quickly realized that their weight and their wiggly shape was going to make them difficult to launch! In 2014, we tried a simple catapult with a board. It worked well, but this idea is best for big kids as it lacks control. In 2015, we tried again. We were still looking for something that even a young child could use to launch a water balloon! We built a PVC pipe catapult that we found on the Home Depot website. It looked promising with a bungee cord to provide tension, but it was another flop. We could throw the balloons farther than we could launch them! It is very difficult to transfer energy to a water balloon.
But this year… SUCCESS!
This water balloon launcher requires some basic woodworking, but it is so worth the effort. We had excited kids from the toddler on up! We had teen boys saying, “Whoa! Awesome!” We had neighborhood kids circling around on bicycles because they just couldn’t stop watching! (And yes, we did offer them a turn when I noticed them circling!) And we’ll be using this for play dates all summer long!
Basically, this project combines a 3 man water balloon launcher with a sturdy wooden frame. Three man launchers are fun if you have three friends of equal size, but what if three people don’t all want to play? Or their heights don’t match up? This way, anyone can shoot the launcher.
“Can I shoot another one?”
We got the idea for the frame from this Angry Birds tennis ball launcher. They had used a stretchy exercise band, so we tried that first. Although it shot tennis balls well (for us too – not just in the post we read) it just didn’t work with water balloons. They were impossible to hang on to! Jordan found a 3 man launcher for $10 at Walmart, and the pouch with a handle made all the difference.
Can you see the balloon in the top right corner?
This photo shows how far it shoots. We aimed it toward the street across from our house, and big kids (10+) could easily shoot it three houses down!
NOTE: This set-up requires adult supervision to watch for cars, and we also took breaks to go out and clean up all the water balloon pieces. Don’t be annoying neighbors!
Ready to Build One?
This contains Amazon affiliate links.
- 3 – 8 foot long 4 x 4’s
- 1 – 8 foot long 2 x 4
- 2 – 3/8 inch by 6 inch screws
- 6 – 3/8 inch by 8 inch screws
- 2 – 5/16 inch x 4 inch screws with eye hooks (probably does not have to be this exact size)
- 1 – three man water balloon launcher – We used the KAOS 300 foot launcher.
- water balloons – we used the Bunch o Balloons, and they worked great! Quickly fill 100 balloons.
Total cost: $52 for the wood and hardware, plus $10 for the launcher (Walmart) and then $11 for the balloons.
Savings tip: We used pressure treated lumber. You could cut down the cost quite a bit by using regular pine boards.
Also, we’re going to show you in a minute how to take down the launcher for easy storage, so this is definitely something that can be used from year to year.
NOTE: Neither of us have a whole lot of wood working experience, so if you see a better way to do this, go right ahead!
Step 1: Cut the legs for the launcher using the 4 x 4 lumber. Ours are 6.5 feet long. Then cut two 2 ft. sections for the arms that stick up vertically. Cut a 3.5 foot section from the 2 x 4 – this will be the support that goes across the front of the launcher.
Step 2: Pre-drill the holes for the screws.
Rather than drill through the bottom board and the vertical board and try to get the holes to line up, Jordan just pre-drilled the bottom board. He used a socket wrench to insert the screw until it was just showing through the other side.
Then he held the board in place while drilling the screw through the wood. It worked!
There is one 8 inch screw in each vertical arm, plus two in each support piece. The two shorter screws are in the support 2 x 4 board on the front of the launcher.
Step 3: Cut the support pieces. For this step, we borrowed a power miter saw from a neighbor. That is definitely an item on our wish list now! Then screw them to the frame.
Step 4: Add screws with eye hooks. We put the hand holds of the launcher over each hook. When you stretch the launcher to shoot it, it tightens around the hooks automatically.
Then fill up balloons (you’re going to want a LOT) and start firing away!
SO MUCH FUN!
To store the launcher, remove the front cross piece. We are keeping ours in the garage in three separate pieces. If you’re planning to leave yours up all the time, I would add a second cross piece on the back end of the launcher.
Have fun! If you build one, we would love to hear about it!
TONI Jul 9, 2016
WAS MESMERIZED BY YOUR LAUNCHER !
DO YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE MADE TOTALLY WITH 2X4'S IF THE OPTIONAL BACK BRACE WAS ADDED ?
OUR LOCAL 4X4'S RUN ABOUT $24. EACH .... AND NOT THAT THE PROJECT DOESN'T LOOK WORTH THE INVESTMENT BUT CONVINCING THE POWER SAW WRANGLER/WALLET HOLDER MAY PROVE TOUGH.
GREAT IDEA, THOUGH !
Sarah Jul 9, 2016
I think that the boards on the bottom of the launcher would be fine as 2 x 4's, but I'm not sure about the posts that stand up vertically. They might be less stable. Maybe if you added supports on both sides?
Staci May 29, 2022
Double the 2x4s for the uprights - just use two of them and glue and screw them together. You'll get an equivalent piece that's more likely to stand up to wear and tear.
Kellie Jul 12, 2016
Oh my gosh!!! This looks TOO fun! Must try!
Thanks for the great idea
Fivestarcoupon.com Jan 16, 2017
Nice post. Should try it :D
WallyDog2149 Jul 10, 2017
I know I am probably necro-posting here. The beauty of this design is that for the larger, 100 yard and up launchers, the catapult design is scalable. That is a good thing because there is nothing obstructing the view of the gunner as he, or she, aims and angles the trajectory of the launch.
Joshua Yang Nov 12, 2017
Is there a cheaper way to build this (two) for a carnival game booth for some little kids? Also, is there cheaper ays to do this (our team has a low budget)?
Bulkofdeals.com Nov 14, 2017
Nice Invention I think it's a lot of fun :-)
Thom Baird May 25, 2020
Made the launcher. Only problem we have is with the 3 man launcher. The holder of the balloons slips down to maybe 2” and it covers edges of balloons so when pulled back and release thyballoon is almost covering the balloon. When released it breaks the balloons way to often. Can’t keep the pouch open.
Sarah May 26, 2020
Hmm, that's a good question. So does it seem like the balloons are too small, or do you think the problem is the pouch? The only thing I can think of is to try regular balloons instead of the ones marketed as water balloons. Regular balloons will be larger when filled, and they don't pop as easily.
Nana Eaton Jul 12, 2020
I wonder if using an old soup ladle would work. Drilling holes on the two sides, then threading though the two straps then attaching to the front vertical posts would work. Basically replacing cloth material(s) with a plastic substitute. I plan on making 2, with lazy Susans under the front (for angle changes). My grandkids can have some wicked cool water balloon fights. :)
Lynn May 30, 2020
We live in a trailer court. Neighbors across from us we declared “war” on as they launch water balloons at us. This is a definite add to our “ weapons” for the summer water war. Thank you for the great idea.
Post a Comment