"Winger" is the most-recognized brand name of an old college (and eventually high school) summer stand-by. It is the grandson of the field expedient slingshot, the bastard child of flexible surgical tubing and no-harm-done, all-for-laughs water fights. It is to the water pistol--or even to the vaunted SuperSoaker--the Doomsday Device. The Equalizer. Can't picture it? Picture this:

It's a pleasant spring day, the first day warm enough to have your convertible's top down. In front of the library, students spread out on towels, some nominally doing homework, most just chatting and laughing. A few freshmen toss a frisbee back and forth. Their tossing space is quickly eaten up when Tappa Kegga Bru shows up and decides that the big flat expanse at the bottom of the hill is part of their pickup football game. What's a frosh to do? The frisbee game dissipates.

The freshmen head back to the three-story dorm, ascend to the roof, and prepare vengeance: a hamper full of water balloons, and The Winger. Two of them stand as tall as they can, hands over their heads, about ten feet apart, each holding one end of the tubing. The third loads the funnel, and walks backward until his weight can barely compensate for the tension in the tubing. He holds the narrow end of the funnel tightly. He eyeballs the range, waits until the teams are nose to nose at scrimmage, and releases. A fourth freshman serves as spotter, binoculars focused on the game. Four seconds later, almost two blocks away, a bright red ovoid shape smacks into a senior's back hard enough to leave a bruise... and then vaporizes, spraying everyone within a meter in a dense mist of water. The seniors look around the lawn for who threw, but nobody saw.

By the third shot, the game has broken up, and the seniors are wandering around the lawn, looking into the distance.

It takes another six soaked seniors before one of them sees someone on the roof. He hollers, and they begin running for the freshman dorms.

When the angry posse arrives on the roof, all that's there are some curiously large wet spots, and thin strips of brightly colored rubber. One of them kneels to pick up a burst balloon, when he realizes that the splash it's sitting in is too long and narrow to have been dropped from here. It came from...


So yeah: it's just two pieces of surgical tubing and a plastic funnel for the seat. If you can't buy a Winger off the shelf from Winger Sports LTD (Arden Hills, MN), you'll have to make your own--which isn't very hard.

Step one is to acquire your tubing and your funnel. By shortening, lengthening, or doubling the tubing, you can attach it to the funnel at four points instead of two (a good idea, to get a better balance of tension). For a funnel, pick one with a wide mouth. Make sure that the inside is smooth (no seams from the injection molding) and that the spout is long enough to grab onto. Knots should be doubled or tripled, and you might even consider a cotter pin or similar to ensure that nothing slips loose under tension. After that, just fill up some balloons and go. You'll want a fire team of at least three, possibly four or five if you want to relocate frequently.

The Winger is a toy, but it can also be a serious hazard. This is not a SuperSoaker; this is not dropping a water balloon from five stories up. This is home artillery. This is a no shit way to rupture an eardrum or blind someone if you make a direct head shot. This is a way to give someone with a riot shield a sore wrist. I've heard of Wingers putting balloons through car windshields, and I've personally seen people get hit with a balloon lobbed by a Winger. There's a huge difference between arcing a shot into a crowd so it startles them, and whipping a sphere of rubber-coated high-density tap water into something (or God help us, someone) at 100+ mph. You can fire your Winger at people, and you can fire your Winger at low angles, but don't do both!!

Wing"er (?), n. Naut.

One of the casks stowed in the wings of a vessel's hold, being smaller than such as are stowed more amidships.



© Webster 1913.

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