By Jim Lee: PNT Columnist
Some people have apparently become terminally bored with organized sports, at least the mainstream events like baseball, football, and kitten stomping.
This was brought to my attention when Shannon Hearn casually mentioned the sport of anvil tossing. I thought he was putting me on until I did a little research. Sure enough, the activity does indeed inhabit the world of reality. As a matter of fact, it even has spinoffs that have drawn crowds of up to 30,000 souls on a quest for fulfilling diversion.
According to the Oct. 24, 2004, Detroit Journal it all started in 1986 with an argument in a blacksmith shop. A group of men without enough to think about participated in a macho verbal dispute over who could throw an anvil farther than the others. Of course they decided to settle the argument in the obvious way. I don’t know about their respective blood/alcohol levels, but if they were sober they belonged in a rubber room at Fruitcake City.
Predictably, the event led to some back problems.
That didn’t stop the men, but it did make them change projectiles. Pumpkins became the missile of choice. This led to the sport of pumpkin chunkin’.
Bruce Bradford is probably the best known chunker with his nine-ton, 108-foot air gun named The Second Amendment. It threw an 8-pound gourd more than 4,000 feet.
Competitors have pumpkin cannons with names like Please Release Me, and Mac Daddy. This has become popular, but we do have a less known anvil tossing descendent.
It hasn’t achieved the popularity of pumpkin diversion, but the anvil has its own spinoff of sorts. Enter the sport of anvil chunking, a.k.a. anvil blowing and anvil firing.
Nobody should “try this at home” (or anywhere else), but not everybody listens to this sage advice. Participants warn that no one should try it without experience in explosives, firearms, and gunpowder. Frankly, nobody, regardless of his/her experience with anything should participate in this activity. However, these candidates for terminal silliness say they wear safety glasses and never put themselves over anvils after or during loading.
They put one anvil on top of another one. The top anvil is right-side up and is called the “flyer.” The folks with missing fingers have more difficulty with the anvil stacking, but that’s all part of the fun. Most anvils have a small depression in the otherwise smooth surface. Now that’s convenient. The small depression in the bottom anvil becomes the powder cavity.
Only black powder (not smokeless) is recommended because all that smoke looks really cool, and it makes a bigger noise when it goes off. A fuse can relieve the anxiety of less adventuresome folks. Those really in the spirit of the occasion, though, place a thin gasket between the anvils instead of a fuse and set it off with a forge-heated rod. Now that seems like almost as much fun as competing with three pit bulls for a Big Mac. Next, check on how many fingers remain and watch how high and how far the “flyer” goes without going along for the ride.
What a great way to spend the Fourth of July or the Tsar’s birthday. So who needs those stupid fireworks when we got anvil chunking? Besides, my thrill-seeking comrades, fireworks can be dangerous. We can’t have that, now can we?
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: