Are people actually SHOT out of cannons, or pushed by springs?

I’ve always thought that being shot out of a cannon was a scam - that the charge went off at the same time as a pretty strong spring uncoiled, pushing the performers out. I mean, if they were actually SHOT out of there, wouldn’t they be spit out at lethal accelerations? Going from zero to several hundred, or thousand, feet per second would get them moving too fast too soon, would make them impossible to stop within a few tens of yards, and just be altogether too rough to survive. wouldn’t it? What’s the straight dope on this? Cece?

The Master speaks

Aha! Just as I thought. But I had done a search before posting and came up empty. Must have been the search terms. thanks. xo C.

Although Cecil seems to imply in that column that the ones who use/used compressed air were actually making their bodies the bullet, I seriously doubt anyone does it like that today (if ever). I think the compressed air is still just powering a smaller piston/cylinder inside the fake cannon exterior and the cannoneers are just riding on top of some kind of sled pushed by it. They aren’t actually being exposed to high pressure air nor is their body acting in any way as a seal, or tight fitting ‘bullet’ inside a pressure vessel of any kind.

One of the reasons being that if you tried doing it that way the force pushing you out could be wildly unpredictable. You might go 50 feet, or you might go 500 feet, making net placemat a problem. :smiley:

Yes human bodies don’t conform very tightly to a cylindrical barrel for a good seal. And if the pressure was high enough for it not to matter what kind of rug-burn would you get from scraping along 20 feet of canon barrel? I could see them having their feet braced against a circular piece of plywood or something that would form a decent seal (with some stoppers a few feet from the end of the barrel so it wouldn’t come flying out with the person).

I’m quite sure if a human were ever to try and fire themselves out of a canon using powder and themselves as a stand-alone projectile you’d have a scene just like in the Simpsons when Krusty fired Sideshow Bob from the cannon (exept the person would also be dead).

I heard that the man who was shot out of the cannon is injured, and they are having a hard time finding a replacement of the same calibre.

Sorry, that’s my favorite joke and I don’t get to use it often.

Did he suffer from Shell Shock?

Could be a money issue as well. Not enough bucks for the bang.

Knock it off. Any more of this crap, and I’ll go ballistic.

I heard the first guy got fired.

Yeah, the job had too many ups and downs.

Ignore yabob and just keep barrelling ahead.

Pardon me while I rifle through my puns archive…