Stephanie Pearce: Family fun with potato guns

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I received a few messages this week on Facebook. Thank you for those of you who shared with me what you and your kids do for fun together. The stories were heartwarming. Two of them involved potato guns. I have to warn you that even though potato guns are extremely fun and entertaining, they can be harmful if not handled well. Our family also has built potato guns for family entertainment.

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Stephanie Pearce

A few years ago, my son’s youth group leader from church practically lived with us. He was from a very small town, and when he met our family, he really gravitated toward us. I think being at the ranch reminded him of home somewhat. He would ride horses with the kids, help us brand and even volunteered to pre-check cows for us one year. It was like having another kid around, but he was also mature enough to be my friend, as well, and help with other chores on the ranch. If I fed him, he would do just about anything I asked.

One day after he spent a Sunday with another church family, he told us how they had made potato guns. He said they were really easy to make and asked if he could take the kids and buy materials to make the guns. I really didn’t know anything about them, so I said, “Sure! Sounds like a fun project!” He loaded the kids in his truck, and about two hours later, they were back at the house gluing PVC pipe and other things together to construct the guns.

The kids were so excited. We bought several 10-pound bags of potatoes. He got the kids all lined out on how to put the potato in and use hair spray and then light it. The guns worked great for a while, but eventually, hair spray would build up. The leader was right on top of this. He looked down the empty barrel of the potato gun and pulled the trigger to see if it was igniting at all.

This is not advised. The gun ignited and sent a shot of fire out the end of the gun. I had been watching out the window of the house, and he ran inside and washed his face. He said, “That was a close one! That could have been really bad!” He was fine. I thought that was a good lesson for the kids so they would know that they needed to be extra careful. We talked about gun safety before they started shooting again.

I left the kids again, watching out the window. They were having so much fun measuring and seeing whose gun could shoot the farthest. Before too long, the youth group leader came in again. This time, he was running for the sink, splashing cold water on his face. He had done it again! This time, he had singed his eyebrows and blistered his lips. After doctoring him up a little, I banned him from the potato guns. I was very stern in front of the kids, but when the kids were out of sight, I laughed hysterically. I couldn’t believe an adult would do that twice — in one day.

So have fun with the projects you do as a family. Just be safe and never look down the barrel of a potato gun.

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