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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Anvil shooting: Firing anvils 200 feet into the air

Being into knifemaking I'd read about this before: how back in the old days blacksmiths would have "anvil shootings". There are conflicting stories about why the practice originated. Some say that it began when Union soldiers invading the South during the Civil War would try to destroy every anvil they found so as to break the Confederacy's ability to make weapons and other tools. Others hold, with some evidence backing them up, that there was a much more mundane purpose behind anvil shooting: that blacksmiths simply found it the quickest way to "clean up" an anvil after long periods of use.

However it started, there's no doubt that it was spectacular enough of a sight that for many years it became a favorite way to celebrate festive events throughout America, such as victory in war. But then with the increase of modern industry, anvil shooting began to decline.

And today, Gay Wilkinson and a number of others are bringing it back. Wilkinson is a world champion in the "sport" of anvil shooting. Points are added for each foot into the air the anvil is fired, and deducted for however many feet from the base it lands.

What does it look like? Here's Wilkinson preparing and firing his anvil...


That's about 200 feet straight up into the air that he shot that thing!

A good anvil costs anywhere between $150 and $300. I'd love to try this sometime, but the anvil we work with was made from scratch by Dad and is firmly welded to its supporting base (which has several feet of itself buried in the ground beneath the shop for extra stability).

That's probably a good thing :-P


Eric H. Smith said...

I've got an old one without a shoe on it.