AskDefine | Define blowgun

Dictionary Definition

blowgun n : a tube through which darts can be shot by blowing [syn: blowpipe, blowtube, blow tube]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a hollow tube through which a dart or similar missile may be blown


Extensive Definition

"Blowpipe" and "blow tube" redirect here. For other uses of the terms, see Glassblowing
A blowgun (also called a blowpipe or blow tube) is a simple weapon consisting of a small tube for firing light projectiles, or darts. The wielder blows into one end, forcing the dart out the other. Its propulsive power is its user's respiratory muscles.
Sometimes, for increased effectiveness, the dart is tipped with a poison, most famously curare.
Many cultures have used this weapon, but various indigenous rain forest tribes in South America and South East Asia are the best known wielders. Blowguns are very rarely used by these tribes as antipersonnel weapons, but primarily to hunt small game such as monkeys.
North American Cherokees were known for making blowguns out of river cane to supplement their diet with rabbits and other small creatures.
Today’s modern man uses the lung-powered blowgun with tranquilizer darts to capture wildlife or to stun caged dangerous animals. Herpetologists find the blowgun extremely useful in capturing elusive lizards with stun darts. Today, many people are finding that blowguns offer quite a challenging sport. With different darts to choose from, blowguns are finding their way into everyday society. With the introduction of paintballs and stun darts, the blowgun offers a wide variety of sporting activities.
Some modern blowguns have removable sections, and as a result, paintball adaptors have been made so that people can use blowguns as back up weapons. Some may even play it similarly to slingshot paintball.

Sport Blowgun

see also: fukiya for standard pursued by IFA
There are several competition styles practiced around the world. A standardization of competition style, based upon fukiya, is being pursued by the International Fukiyado Association and hoped to become an Olympic event. It is a 10 meter target shooting, using a standardized barrel caliber and length, and a standardized dart length and weight, as outlined by IFA.
Two other styles are also being pursued to make up the Olympic blowgun event, both based upon the Cherokee Annual Gathering Blowgun Competition. The Field Style competition is similar to the winter Biathlon, where the shooter runs from a starting line to a target lane, shoots and retrieves the darts, and continue to the next station. The course length varies from 400 to 800 m or longer, with between 9 to 16 targets at various heights and shooting distances. The final style is the Long Distance target shoot. The target is a circle of 24 cm diameter, and the firing line is 20 meters away. Three darts are fired by each shooter, at least one must stick in the target. All successful shooters move to the next round, moving back 2 meters each time.
The sport blowgun is managed by International Fukiya Association, with which national associations in the United States, France, Germany and the Philippines are affiliated.


As a primitive weapon, there are no set dimension for blowgun's length and diameter. However, typically there are three sizes:
  1. Fukiya: diameter is 13mm (.51 cal) in Japan. Tournament length is 120.0cm, but for practice one can use a 50cm pipe. No mouthpiece: user wrap their lips around the pipe. International version can be slightly more flexible, and thus allow a tube of 4 feet and .50cal for those under IFA. Darts length is a paper cone of 20cm, weighting 0.8g.
  2. Cherokee: made of river cane with length from 6 to 9 feet. Dart is 8 to 22 inches in length, similar to a fukibari, but have fluffs for an air seal.
  3. Modern (US/EU): typically have the diameter of 10mm (.40 cal), with varying length. Have a trumpet-style mouthpiece, limited length is 121.92cm (4 foot) in competition.
    1. Paintball marker: Made to be identical to the size of a paintball (.68 cal)


In the United Kingdom, the blowgun is categorized as an offensive weapon under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act, and as such it is illegal to manufacture, sell or hire or offer for sale or hire, expose or have in ones possession for the purpose of sale or hire, or lend or give to any other person. Antique blowguns are however exempt.
In Canada, the blowgun is classified as a prohibited weapon and is defined as any device that "being a tube or pipe designed for the purpose of shooting arrows or darts by the breath". Any imported blowguns must be deactivated by either drilling a hole or by blocking it. On the other hand, like many prohibited weapons, it can be used in a legal shooting range, and can be transported through legal channel.
In the U.S.A. it is legal to have and use except in the states of California, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

See also


  • Speck, Frank G. "The Cane BlowGun in Catawba and Southeastern Ethnology" in American Anthropologist 40:2 (Apr.-Jun., 1938), pp. 198-204.

External links

blowgun in Catalan: Sarbatana
blowgun in Czech: Foukačka
blowgun in German: Blasrohr
blowgun in Spanish: Cerbatana
blowgun in French: Sarbacane
blowgun in Croatian: Puhaljka
blowgun in Icelandic: Munnbyssa
blowgun in Italian: Cerbottana
blowgun in Dutch: Blaaspijp (wapen)
blowgun in Japanese: 吹き矢
blowgun in Norwegian: Blåserør
blowgun in Polish: Dmuchawka (broń)
blowgun in Portuguese: Zarabatana
blowgun in Quechua: Phukuna
blowgun in Russian: Духовые трубки
blowgun in Slovenian: Pihalnik
blowgun in Finnish: Puhallusputki
blowgun in Swedish: Blåsrör

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

automatic, bellows, blower, blowpipe, blowtube, firearm, flamethrower, gat, gun, handgun, heater, musket, peashooter, piece, pistol, repeater, revolver, rifle, rod, sawed-off shotgun, shooting iron, shotgun, six-gun, six-shooter
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