Water balloon launchers
Written by Sapper
Last updated on 2002-09-25
With more and more mod-crazy (and sometimes newbie-ish) water warriors entering the arena of the online Super Soaker community, water balloon launchers (WBLs) are becoming more and more common. Now these are not your typical water balloon slingshots, these are actual launchers (see the picture to the side)! They preach that WBLs are far superior to Super Soakers and some even go as far as to boast that they are the wave of the future and will eventually replace the Super Soaker on the battlefield. They couldn't have been more wrong!
The most obvious problem with the WBL is the safety issue. If you pressurize the weapon, which is what it is, beyond 100 PSI than "there is a very real chance you could have PVC shrapnel ripping through your skull," according to one pro-WBL website. And it is obviously not a very good anti-personnel weapon as you cannot shoot anyone under 100 feet away... this puzzles me because how are you going to know if they are 100 feet away or not? Estimate? If this is the case, than I hope that no incompetent people get a hold of these things because 100 feet may soon turn into forty.
But let's say that the user of this weapon is not incompetent. Let's say he is responsible and mature, he knows his English system of measurement very well, and he is 300 feet away from his enemy. So, he loads his water balloon into the chamber, and fires it at an enemy soldier. He will see it unless his back is turned, so we will say it is. It hits him. And guess what, he knows what direction it came from, so all he has to do is watch that direction and dodge them and now he is safe. Hence, after the first water balloon (or first half of a volley of them) your opponents will be able to see the balloons coming and get out of the way a few seconds before it hit... or would've hit.
Not only do they fail to make a good anti-personnel weapon, they are also tactically handicapping. For instance, if you had a WBL gunner firing at a base and some soldiers charged him and got within an unsafe distance to fire, you could either run, or try to fight them off with a pistol... if you're smart, you'll have an escort (NOTE: I doubt you would have a main weapon with you). From this, I can conclude that WBLs are strategically beneficial as well as tactically handicapping. You don't get the whole pie even though you must pay a much larger price than it's worth.
However, in the midst of all of my ranting, there are some good things about the WBL. In this day and age where intelligence is withering away, WBLs are not only fun, but also educational. They must certainly take some skill to operate and especially produce, so kids (and even teens) learn about mechanics, engineering, and sometimes even math. Beyond the text books and classrooms, they are extremely good at bombarding an enemy base and keeping the defendants pinned either while reinforcements come or to allow a second wave to incur far into enemy territory. At their lowest level, they can be used as a distraction to lure enemy defenders (and sometimes offenders) away... even though some glue and PVC pipe smacked together to produce a fake WBL would work just as well. And so the shallow-thinkers that overbearingly once said that the Era of the Super Soaker is over have now been successfully opposed... at least I think so. The WBLs have potential, yes, but they must be cheaper (one of these babies costs $80+ U.S. to produce) and far easier to make (in case you didn't pick up on it, they're HOMEMADE weapons) before they become practical. Once this is finished, tactics and strategy regarding how they are used should be better developed in order to optimize their value. But they will never replace Super Soakers on today's modern battlefield.