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How it Works: The Artillery-Grade 600 MPH Pumpkin Cannon

Even from his house six and a half miles away, Gary Arold’s son can clearly hear the artillery-grade boom from his father’s giant air cannon. Along with his friend and co-builder, John Gill, Arold’s favorite pastime is sending pumpkins—and other roughly spherical projectiles, including a bowling ball and a 12-pound frozen turkey—flying nearly 4,000 feet across Gill’s Hurley, New York, farm.
The duo was inspired to build the cacophonous contraption when a mutual friend made a small cannon and asked to shoot it off on Gill’s vegetable farm using an air compressor. Arold and Gill immediately wanted one too but endeavored to match the size and power of the biggest cannons at the annual Punkin Chunkin World Championship in Delaware, the Super Bowl of pumpkin shooting. Their monster features two old 1,000-gallon propane tanks and a 100-foot metal barrel. They pressurize the air in the tanks by connecting a compressor and then open a valve to unleash the 100 pounds per square inch of pressure needed to hurl a pumpkin seven tenths of a mile.

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