Balcony Shoot #17 - Paloma Tests

Date: 2003-10-18


I made up a slack handful of palomas for testing various powders for their effect vrs ease of preperation, basically searching for the easiest and cheapest bang.

All where made from a 30 mm wide strip of 80 gsm A4 paper, lengthwise cuts. The fuse was a piece of Zinc based effects blackmatch, about 2 seconds delay worth.

The strip was folded over three times to form the pocket, a 1/8 teaspoon of composition was added and the fuse placed, then the remaining strip was painted with PVA and the folding continued until all the strip was used. There was no additional pasting or other containment improvement.

The compositions tested:

2 units of my bottle rocket propellant meal

3 units of blackpowder meal

1 unit of blackpowder meal with added 10% Aluminium

1 unit of pulverone made from fast meal

1 unit of corned blackpowder


Most went bang nicely.

The neighbours were having a party and shooting commercial fireworks off their balcony, so I figured I'd join in, testing them all in the space of 5 minutes or so.

I had originally planned to link them all with a piece of blackmatch and take a single video which may have been better for comparison purposes. The results turned out to be so drastically contrasting that it probably would have been a waste of a length of blackmatch.

The ones made from rocket propellant just wooshed, one spinning rapidly on the ground, the other taking off for a short distance.

Two of the blackpowder meal ones gave a reasonable crack, the other a loud woof but no actual report. The meal with added Aluminium also only thrusted about on the ground in a violent manner.

The true corned blackpowder paloma gave a good loud crack, but no where near a good as the rough powder. The rough powder report was very, very loud for such a small cracker, it scared the hell out of everyone present.

With a larger powder load the meal ones would probably have worked fine, but for only minimally more effort, the rough powder performance is well worth it and more economical on powder. Corned blackpowder seems to be not worth the effort unless you have finer than 4F just laying around.

Most of the shells were recovered. The ones that really cracked had split open down one side, almost always the side in which the fuse had lay. The larger paloma from the beach had split on two sides but had a larger powder load. The fuse burn probably produces a weakness that propagates a tear along the edge where the fold is inducing the highest stress on the paper.


title type size
The bunch of Palomas image/jpeg 63.058 kbytes
Rocket Propellant Paloma #1 video/x-msvideo 729.282 kbytes
Rocket Propellant Paloma #2 video/x-msvideo 1.009 Mbytes
Meal Paloma #1 video/x-msvideo 409.612 kbytes
Meal Paloma #2 video/x-msvideo 836.798 kbytes
Meal Paloma #3 video/x-msvideo 1.395 Mbytes
Blackpowder Paloma video/x-msvideo 563.392 kbytes
Rough Powder Paloma video/x-msvideo 954.100 kbytes
Unpopped Paloma Shells image/jpeg 42.206 kbytes
Popped Paloma Shells image/jpeg 39.329 kbytes