Catapults and shitty sticks: A 1970s child's guide to armed warfare

KIDS love weapons and inflicting harm, and the children of the 70s had less supervision than most. Luckily their weapons were far too rubbish to do any real damage. Like these. 


Could be a forked tree twig made with duct tape and knicker elastic, or the Holy Grail of catapults: a high-velocity version strapped to the forearm. They could shoot though a car, according to your friend Dave. Understandably unpopular with parents and neighbours, due to broken windows and ‘having someone’s eye out’. They needn’t have worried – it took about 200 shots to finally hit your target by chance.

Verdict: Effective only in experienced hands.


Every child with a pea-shooter thought they were an Amazonian jungle warrior or master assassin. Despite the propaganda of Dennis the Menace, peas usually only travelled about two metres before plummeting pathetically to the floor. Also had a tendency to cover your hands with spit, which is worse than being hit by a pea. Not to mention the obvious choking hazard of carrying dried peas in your mouth, which, looking back, was phenomenally irresponsible.

Verdict: Don’t get weapons advice from the Beano.

Spud guns

The closest a 70s kid got to being James Bond was owning and operating a spud gun. However firing a Walther PPK doesn’t involve endless f**king around with a plunger and a potato, or the Bond films would have had very different outcomes. Battles using these weapons never lasted long, possibly due to boredom, and the only real jeopardy a child spy faced was explaining to ‘M’ why you’d ruined all the potatoes.

Verdict: A small piece of potato is not effective for military use, storming an embassy or home defence.

Water pistols

Modern kids have great fun with super-soakers capable of squirting jets of water over great distances. 1970s kids had tiny hollow plastic revolvers with a thimble-sized reservoir capable of one decent spray or several pathetic spurts. Usually obtained as a free gift with a comic, these always had a crap seal on the small water hole, getting you wetter than the victim. Which, admittedly, wasn’t very wet.

Verdict: Kids with water pistols today don’t know they’re born.

Shitty sticks

The weapon of choice for the 70s kid with no boundaries was a long stick plunged into the nearest dog turd. Wielded like a toxic lightsaber, it guaranteed all around fled swiftly with a collective ‘Urgh!’. Accidentally smearing dog shit on yourself wasn’t unknown, in a misfire no weapons operator wants.

Verdict: Consigned to the annals of history due to killjoy dog owners disposing of turds responsibly.

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Your family members ranked from worst to best

SOME family members are simply better than others. Find out how yours stack up with this definitive ranking of your blood relatives.

8. Little brother

Or as you call them: ‘That f**king little shit who used to play with my toys without asking’. You’re still not over how your parents were soft on him compared to the totalitarian upbringing they put you through. Maybe you should let it go though. It’s been 30 years.

7. Uncle on your dad’s side

A man who has all of the annoying traits of your dad without the unconditional love that makes your father tolerable. If you met this guy through work you’d think he was a right bellend and never hang out with him. As it is, you have to endure his company for two minutes at Christmas. And that’s more than enough.

6. Newborn niece

Not the worst but nothing special either. It just kind of sits there and cries sometimes. Everyone finds it fascinating even though it hasn’t developed a personality yet. Quite why you had to visit it and spend a fortune on a gift is anyone’s guess. It’s cute, but not quite Baby Yoda standard.

5. Cousins

The most bang-average of family members. They’re like you from a parallel dimension only somehow slightly more boring. What’s their job? Do they have kids? You’re not sure. They tell you this sort of stuff at New Year’s Eve parties but you’re always either too drunk or bored to remember.

4. Dad

Breaking into the upper tiers purely because he used to give you lifts into town and has a better sense of humour than your mum. Otherwise he’d be hovering near the bottom because his weird parenting has left you thoroughly unprepared for adult life. You’ve also inherited his balding pattern, which knocks off a few more points.

3. The dog

The only family member who is always excited to see you and, unlike some, has never asked to borrow money. For those reasons alone he deserves to be near the top, but he’s also provided countless hours of entertainment and has even acted as your wingman in the park. It more than makes up for the fact that you have to pick up his shit.

2. Mum

She has to be placed this high or she’d bloody kill you. She deserves it though because she literally made you, a fact she likes to point out when she has a favour to ask. Yes, she can be a pain in the arse with her constant trivial questions, but it’s only because she loves you so bloody much which is rather nice really.

1. Nan

Your nan is like your mum but even better. She says what she thinks no matter how batshit crazy or problematic it sounds, and she’s always willing to throw money at you because she can’t take it with her. Eating her incredibly unadventurous biscuits is a small price to pay.