The tradition of anvil shooting is one that dates back as far as the American Civil War. According to legend, when the Union armies marched through the South, they wanted to take out their enemy’s capability to work metal.
To do that, they would place gunpowder underneath their anvils and light it with a fuse. Once the powder blew, the anvils would go rocketing into the sky, rarely coming out in any sort of decent shape. Since then, this tactic of war has turned into a competitive event, where people come together to launch their own anvils, seeking greater height.
The championships of anvil shooting take place at Laurel’s Wood Expo in Mississippi each year in April. What was previously an idle way to pass the time turned into an official event in 1994, when one of the co-founders of the World Anvil Shooting Society organized it. It’s been going strong ever since.
There are plenty of specific rules when it comes to anvil shooting, but there are a few basic ones to help the uninitiated understand how it works. Each competitor uses two anvils. They must be made of steel and weigh at least 100 lbs. They are allowed to use up to 2 lbs. of black powder to launch their anvil. A hollow spot beneath the top anvil is where the powder goes, along with a 90-second fuse. The fuse is lit and then you run before it goes off.
The end result is a launch that often reaches more than 100 feet. The person who gets theirs the highest wins. There’s another form of shooting known as Super Modified, for those that think 100 feet just isn’t enough. This tradition lets competitors make their own anvils, customized to reach greater heights - sometimes as far up as 500 feet or more.
This strange Southern American tradition is a great unique event to view if you happen to be travelling through the state of Mississippi in April. Anyone who enjoys explosions and very heavy objects being launched into the air would surely get a kick out of competitive anvil shooting.