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Scout injured by catapulted potato sues

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One of the activities planned for the troop overnighter was the catapulting of potatoes using a makeshift slingshot, according to the suit. The troop’s scoutmaster, who was in charge of coordinating the event and was responsible for making sure it was conducted safely, failed to take reasonable steps to protect the scouts, such as obtaining protective eyewear and the plaintiff was struck by a potato in the left eye as a result, the suit alleges.

The suit alleges “the plaintiff suffered, and continues to suffer from, physical and emotional injuries, including disfigurement.”

Source:

https://mynewsla.com/crime/2019/05/30/boy-scout-injured-by-catapulted-potato-sues-organization/

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How timely, this goes along well with our council's webinar next week to explain the $12 increase in registration fees for 2020 to cover "insurance costs".

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Posted (edited)

BSA's "Guide to Safe Scouting" doesn't give us much guidance around these kinds of activities, though the "Shooting Sports Manual" does specifically prohibit potato guns (no mention of potato catapults though).  It's really nigh on impossible to imagine every scenario in which somebody could possibly get injured, and to write that into the guidelines. 

Edited by mrkstvns

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I find this story very alarming.  I'm so alarmed that I will go home this weekend and build a catapult to see if launching potatoes is as fun as it sounds.

Naturally, I will have to confirm my findings by launching several additional potatoes to verify that it continues to be as fun.

My scientific hypothesis is that the fun quotient could be boosted even higher by launching zucchinis,  cantalopes, or maybe even seedless watermelons. I doubt that launching portabello mushrooms will be at all satisfying.  That will take quite a few fun launches to confirm. 

  • Upvote 2

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Clearly, we need to update the sports merit badge. Playing baseball without full face helmets, safety goggles, and flak jackets is just too dangerous. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

I find this story very alarming.  I'm so alarmed that I will go home this weekend and build a catapult to see if launching potatoes is as fun as it sounds.

Naturally, I will have to confirm my findings by launching several additional potatoes to verify that it continues to be as fun.

My scientific hypothesis is that the fun quotient could be boosted even higher by launching zucchinis,  cantalopes, or maybe even seedless watermelons. I doubt that launching portabello mushrooms will be at all satisfying.  That will take quite a few fun launches to confirm. 

Previous discussion ...

https://www.scouter.com/topic/26075-pioneering-catapults-banned/

 

Edited by qwazse

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Thanks, qwazse!

It's good to know that launching vegetables was as much fun 5 years ago as it is today!

Not so good to know that the previous discussion 5 years ago allegedly had rules about these activities, but I still can't actually FIND relevant written guidelines. ☹️

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Our Council canceled the very popular "Punkin Chunkin" weekend several years ago.  It involved troop-built catapults and trebuchets.

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

Thanks, qwazse!

It's good to know that launching vegetables was as much fun 5 years ago as it is today!

Not so good to know that the previous discussion 5 years ago allegedly had rules about these activities, but I still can't actually FIND relevant written guidelines. ☹️

https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/Outdoor Program/pdf/30931_WB.pdf

It's on pgs. 99-101 but don't read it. Doing so will only bring sorrow.

  • Thanks 1

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Posted (edited)

G2SS age appropriate activity guide requires the catapault/trebuchet munition to be no larger than a tennis ball and soft. 

Ripe Tomatoes, yes. Potatoes, no.

IMO the leader on this activity will soon have his membership revoked, and BSA will be eating liability. Stand by for a new prohibition. 

Edited by John-in-KC

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It’s a shame about the injured child - but Would this have made news or the parents sue if he was building this in the yard at his neighbors house?  

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5 hours ago, Momleader said:

It’s a shame about the injured child - but Would this have made news or the parents sue if he was building this in the yard at his neighbors house?  

Depends on the city. 

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Given that the article doesn't explain what happened it's really hard for me to decide anything about this. Was it a slingshot or was it a trebuchet? Is the scout now blind in one eye or is it just a scar? Was the scout running around out in front of the "makeshift slingshot" or was he trying to launch the potato? To be honest, I'd be careful about launching anything that could do damage if someone stood 10 feet away and threw it at someone's head. But I don't really know what happened.

We made a trebuchet that would launch a 4 lb cabbage 100 yards. The forces involved were impressive. We used something like a 100lb counter weight and a 12' arm. On the first try the arm was pulled apart. (Imagine taking a 2x4 and pulling at it from either end until it came apart (hint: the tensile strength of a 2x4 along the grain is about 50,000 lbs)). I was really paranoid about getting someone hurt so I designed a trigger using some sailing hardware that allowed someone to pull a rope that was 30 feet from the trebuchet to set it off. Good thing I did that because when the arm came apart it made a big mess. But that just made it more fun. Then we went and did a stress analysis on the arm and designed one that would hold together. The scouts loved it. Cabbages look like comets when thrown hard. 

We had fun because I treated it as being dangerous. My question for this incident is did the SM do the same?

  • Upvote 1

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@MattR

I don’t trust the average journalist to get the technical details right, but a “makeshift slingshot” sounds more like an onager, ballista, or water balloon launcher to me. 

If the scout were blinded in one eye, I think his lawyer would have harped on it: “disability, injuries, and disfigurement.”

But what do I know? The full details of these kinds of events are seldom made public knowledge. 

I don’t understand your trebuchet. Why was your throwing arm being stretched?

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BSA Range Safety Officer...  things that are launched....  BB's,   .22's,   Toxiphilology, ,  catapults,   tomahawks,  rocks,   baseballs,  snowballs,  javalins,   shotputs,  discus,  frisbee (ultimate),  flaming marshmallows,   etc. 

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