Cantigny Catapult Contest

Saturday, October 29, 2016 10am



Catapults have a long history in warfare. We want you to build a working version of these war machines. There are three different categories you can compete in, distance, shot group, and accuracy or you can attempt to build a catapult which can do all three. Prizes will be awarded for 1st and 2nd place in each category. Most importantly, contestants get the chance to build a catapult, compete, and possibly earn eternal glory! This project is fun, exciting, and as easy or intricate as you want to make it.


  1. No ready-made kits. Each catapult must be designed, constructed, and launched by contestants.
  2. No part of the catapult can extend over 6 feet high. Height is measured from the ground to the highest point of the catapult when launching.
  3. All catapults will be launched on a grass field. They must sit on the ground. No tables.
  4. The catapult cannot be staked into the ground.
  5. All catapults will fling baseballs provided by the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park.
  6. Your catapult must have a triggering mechanism which will allow you to stand 2 feet away.
  7. No explosions or air pressure may be used to assist the performance of your catapult. In other words, the energy used to power your catapult must be provided by the device itself.
  8. You cannot use stretchy materials to stretch and then pull the arm of your catapult forward (like a sling shot). This type of propulsion has been deemed unsafe due to danger of snapping by museum leadership.
  9. Any type of hurling machine is acceptable: Ballista, Trebuchet, Mangonel, etc.
  10. Your catapult will be inspected for safety and adherence to the rules before the contest. You may not make changes to the catapult after it has been safety inspected. You cannot change out the arms or slings. You are allowed to adjust weights or torsion.
  11. The judges' rulings are always final.


  1. This contest is open to all catapult enthusiasts; no matter your age!
  2. Teams are allowed (and encouraged). No more than 4 people per team please.
  3. All participants must register in advance.


There are three categories to compete in. Teams can compete in as many categories as they want. Either one category alone or in all three categories if they choose.

Distance: Each team will get 5 minutes to complete three launches. Teams will not be allowed to go over 5 minutes. The best launch will be used as your score. The longest launch wins.

Shot Group: Each team will get 5 minutes to complete three launches. Teams will not be allowed to go over 5 minutes. The object is to have all three shots land as close together as possible. The team whose three shots land closest together wins.
Disqualification: You only get 3 launches. If one of your launches misfires, then you are disqualified.
Disqualification: Adjusting weights to give you less distance and more control is fine, but please do so in the spirit of this friendly competition. If your catapult launches balls 40 feet in the distance competition, and then drops the balls at the base of your catapult in the shot group, then that will be ruled a misfire. As a guideline, judges will be looking for catapults capable of firing longer distances to launch at least around 10 ft. in shot group. If your best effort catapult only launches 5 feet then that is allowed.

Accuracy: Each team will get 5 minutes to complete three launches. Teams will not be allowed to go over 5 minutes. There will be a castle printed on vinyl, approximately 5 feet high and 5 feet across, placed 50 feet from the launch area. The team that hits the castle the most times will be the winner. If multiple teams hit the castle the same number of times, then those teams will have a shoot-out. If no team hits the castle then the team whose shot landed closest to the target will win.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call 630.260.8274. This page has been updated for the 2016 competition.

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