Mythbusters Dun Goofed – Cannonball Edition

Yep, they accidentally shot a cannonball 700 yards into a residential neighborhood:

Yikes… someone should get fired for that one.   Lucky no one died.

Chances are since no one got hurt, and they are famous, my guess is they’ll just laugh it off and it will be business as usual.




Feargal December 8, 2011 at 12:33 am

I bet their insurance company won’t laugh it off. That by itself will probably force new procedures.

Whats surprising is that a bomb range is that close to a residential area.


Frank December 8, 2011 at 01:19 am

I feel bad for reading this since I heard about it Dec. 7th, around 6 or 7am PST. Now it’s like 18-20 hours later…

My thoughts? I’m hoping this makes it into an episode!


ENDO-Mike December 8, 2011 at 01:21 am

You feel bad for reading it? Is this some new troll kick you’re on? LOL First the suicide comment, and now this one.


Frank December 8, 2011 at 11:32 am

Sorry. Not troll kick… At least I don’t think so?

I should have mentioned that when this news article was on HLN, I heard people talking about it throughout my day at work. Surprisingly, that was roughly 10 hours after I first heard it. Then I got home and read about it here. I guess I’m surprised that people care about Myth Busters. Although this is a gun blog so I do expect reading it about it here from time to time, yet hearing it over and over throughout my day is like forcing me to use a Jennings pistol for self-defense.


ENDO-Mike December 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm

haha alright. Some of the things I post are bound to be a bit old considering I post after midnight every day.


Ted N December 10, 2011 at 02:34 am

You find awesomeness that I wouldn’t otherwise find, so I still think you’re pretty cool.


Kevin December 8, 2011 at 01:47 am

The procedures should definitely be under much more scrutiny. They’re usually really safe but I’m sure it wouldn’t be great for the show if they killed someone who was watching TV a over a quarter mile away.

However if it were my house instead of suing I’d ask to screw around inside their shop.


Kato December 8, 2011 at 02:14 am

They should just fix the house. Send Grant and Tory to do the work.


bbmg December 8, 2011 at 03:20 am

“Lucky no one died”

The odds of someone actually getting hit are infinitesimally smaller than the chances of the projectile not causing any casualties.

It would be more accurate to say that if someone was hit, they would have been unbelievably unlucky.


ENDO-Mike December 8, 2011 at 03:24 am

I’m no statistics pro, but if a cannon ball fires into a residential neighborhood and blasts through house walls without hitting/hurting/killing anyone I consider that lucky. It’s not like this range was in the middle of the desert.


bbmg December 8, 2011 at 04:01 am

An interesting (theoretical!) experiment would be to virtually fire the cannonball every second through the same trajectory for 24 hours.

Out of 86400 shots, how many cannonballs would have hit someone? I’m willing to bet that it would have been much less than 5%. If that it is the case, one would have to conclude that from a statistical point of view, we should be much more amazed if someone got hit than if they didn’t.

On the other hand, people tend to have less than scientific notions of real probabilities – look how many folks buy lottery tickets – so in the circumstances, I can agree with you – in the sense that if a cannonball blasted through the minivan I had parked minutes earlier, I would be labelling myself pretty damn lucky, regardless of what actual data says :)


Cameron December 8, 2011 at 06:30 am

sounds like a job for mythbusters………oh wait….


Cameron December 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I just wat’d so hard. Someone’s usin’ mah name.


lucusloc December 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm

lol. now that right there is funny.


ZCORR December 8, 2011 at 06:48 am

I wonder if any of the blame will fall back on the bomb range and its officers? Like others said, it’s interesting that range is so close to a neighborhood.

It must suck to be a realtor trying to sell houses in that place… here is the house and over there is a park and to the east you have the bomb range… don’t worry it’s usually quiet and rarely do projectiles ever come ripping through your house.

Good to hear no one was hurt and it really just comes down to luck and timing.


Phil K December 8, 2011 at 06:49 am

Its just a cannon ball.


Dontshootmebro December 8, 2011 at 08:09 am

Cannon Baaaaaaallllllllllllll! Cannon Ball comin’


ASM826 December 8, 2011 at 08:11 am

Let off a round from one of your firearms that hits your neighbor’s house and then try the “Oopsie, my bad!” defense that Mythbusters is going with. Let me know how that works out for ya’.


Jusuchin (Military Otaku) December 8, 2011 at 08:16 am

Frankly, Mythbusters should go to Arizona to do this kinds of experiments. They have a large enough budget from Disney Channel to drive and bring their equipment and crew there anyways.


Jusuchin (Military Otaku) December 8, 2011 at 08:39 am

…Disney Channel?

Jesus I need more coffee. I meant Discovery Channel.

Or less coffee, my hands are in twitch-twitch state that’s fine for playing video games…


Douglas December 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

I’m quite confident that there is a very large test range just a 3 hour drive from SF. If it’s the same range they used for their other cannon tests, then all they had to do was turn the cannon around, and point it at the ocean.


Crunkleross December 8, 2011 at 09:44 am

Well that myth that the mythbusters knows what they are doing is busted.


Sid December 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm


It was a bomb range, not an artillery range. It was built many years ago but has been steadily encroached by residential development. If you check the google earth, it is fairly removed from most nearby residences. The problem is, it is a bomb range (actually a pit) and not designed for projectiles.

Mythbusters is usually very safe to the point that they are willing to cancel a test if it does not meet the established safety criteria. It would appear that on this test, they relied on internal competence rather than enlisting the help of a subject matter expert. The article focuses on what went wrong – the muzzle slightly elevated prior to ignition and the cannonball shot over the intended target. The real focus should have been on what would happen even if everthing went right. The cannonball would have gone through the target and still ricocheted up and over the berm. It may not have traveled as far, but it would still have performed as a projectile.

An artillery officer or civil war re-enactor or one of the guys who competes in cannon events or even just some curious guy that misuses bottle rockets could have pointed this out beforehand. But when a group of people is insulated from outside points of views or is confident in their own abilities…. BOOM!


Cameron December 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I’m going to assume the berm was supposed to be the backstop. Interesting that it failed that badly. Then again, this shot was one in a million, really. To have the shot miss the target, hit a concrete wall, ricochet of a berm, travel 700 yards, hit a sidewalk, blast through a house, over a highway, off another house’s roof, and into a car…it’s either a pure luck shot, or they put a fuckton of powder in that cannon. That would take a LOT of velocity to keep it going that long. I would have expected the ball to either crash down somewhere along the way, or hit the sidewalk, go through the house, and stop there.


Sid December 8, 2011 at 03:20 pm

Agreed. I took up golf this year and have experienced the exact same results. Catch the cart path at the right bounce and get another 50 yards from a drive. Can leave you sitting pretty on the fairway or put your ball in the parking lot.

The velocity of the projectile is what they seriously underestimated. They were at a bomb range and not a firing range. The difference is not minor. I work on a National Guard training base and the impact area is not insignifcant for our ranges. To be safe requires a lot of real estate.


ASM826 December 10, 2011 at 08:41 am

Did they use the metric fuckton, or did they misread the manual and use the larger and more dangerous english fuckton?

If we knew the weight of the projectile and the distances involved, this question could be answered by calculating how much energy it would take to make the ball travel that far.


032125 December 8, 2011 at 06:41 pm

I would tearfully demand that Kari Byron come over and comfort me, for at least a couple of hours.
Then I would frame the hole (in the wall) and put it on display.


Rickenbacker December 9, 2011 at 08:51 am

I’m not surprised it happened, as this is what round cannon balls are DESIGNED to do: bounce along the ground to take out as many people as possible in the enemy ranks. I guess they just never imagined that they’d miss the barriers they’d put up, that would have slowed the ball down enough for the berm to catch it (the news report does say it was their third shot that day, I assume the first two were stopped by the water/concrete/dirt barriers).

Two questions though:
1. Does the guy who found the cannon ball in his minivan get to keep the ball?
2. How long will it take him to put it up on Ebay?


Crunkleross December 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

1. No the Police took it.
2. Not long after it goes missing from the evidence room.


Ted N December 10, 2011 at 02:44 am

1. Dammit.
2. Dammit.

Fuck this Libertarian bullshit, I’m movinig to Grainne.



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