How to Build a Pencil Ballista in Three Easy Steps

Brendan Cass

Required Materials

3 x small binder clips that can grip a pencil for the adjustable rubber band tension and part of the projectile restraint clip

2 x medium binder clips for the base and the rest of the projectile restraint clip

3 x #2 pencils for the body and the projectile

2 x rubber bands

Little Orc Wars is a war game created by Skirmisher Publishing that calls for the use of live siege weapon fire and has the flexibility to accommodate any miniatures at hand – even homemade ones. A co-worker (Sam) and I decided to test that aspect of the game by building our own miniatures using only the materials available in our office. Thus “Little Corporate Orc Wars” is born, a game for long days at the office that need a little bit of fun (but be ready to explain to coworkers what the hell you’re doing)!

This is the ballista design used by the Goblinoid Forces of Goodness, it proved to be accurate, reliable, and very versatile. Its construction is simple, and doesn’t require damaging any of the materials used, so that they can be salvaged for other uses later. This ballista was built using the following steps, follow them to create your very own!

1.       The base, body, and arms, are made using three rubber bands, two pencils, and a medium sized binder clip. The base is simply an overturned binder clip, nothing special needs to be done with it. To create the body, slide a pencil through the gaps in the binder clip’s moving handles so that the pencil is perpendicular to the widest side of the binder clip. With the pencil in place, wrap one of the rubber bands around both the pencil and the binder clip handles until the pencil can no longer move. The arms of the ballista are made by placing a pencil parallel to the width of the binder clip, and between the two upright clip handles so that the pencil is pinched in place. Wrap this pencil with another rubber band until it is held firmly in place. Avoid obscuring the top loop of the binder clip handles, and leave the top of the pencil free from rubber band, as seen in the pictures. Both the handle loops and the top of the pencil will act as guides for the projectile.

2.       The adjustable tension string is made from two small binder clips and a rubber band. Cut a largish rubber band so that instead of a loop, it becomes one long band. Tie each end of the band through the loops on the small binder clip handles. Clip the small binder clips onto the arms of the ballista on either side. Your ballista’s tension can be adjusted by sliding the two small binder clips closer, or farther apart on the ballista’s arm.

3.       The release mechanism is made from one medium sized binder clip and one small binder clip. Attach the small binder clip, handles up, to the base of your ballista. Slide the body medium sized binder clip over the handles of the small binder clip. Place a pencil on the string, pull it back to the release mechanism, then squeeze the handles on the medium sized binder clip to open it up and grab onto the pencil. To fire, squeeze the handles of the medium binder clip again, and let the string propel the projectile forward. Different angles of fire can be achieved by grabbing the pencil at higher or lower points on the binder clip.