Because we often didn't give safety a high priority, a lot of us wound up in various emergency rooms with an assortment of cuts, scratches, fractures and abrasions. Over the years, in my work as a recreation therapist, day care director, youth director and teacher, I learned a bit about playground safety. I applied those lessons in playground safety to the bull barrel device and here's what I came up with. While not 100% without risk, it is far safer than those early examples we strung up in trees (sometimes a little higher up in trees than was wise. Here's how to build the Barrel Bull. Enjoy!
___55 gallon barrel with lid
___4 large eye bolts with short shafts, 4 nuts, 8 flat washers and 4 lock washers
___ 4 Heavy duty boat hooks
___ 5/8 inch heavy duty rope (grass or nylon - avoid polyethelene)
___4 large eyebolts with 6 inch shaft with 4 nuts and 8 flat washers and 4 lock washers
___4 heavy duty 4x4 posts 10 feet long
___Concrete mix and pea gravel
First things first:
Drill holes through the posts and bolt the eye bolts with the long shafts in place with the eye toward the barrel. Again, place washers on both sides of the post and the lock washer next to the nut. Tighten.
If you use trees you can just screw lag eye bolts into the trees to hold the ropes. Don't loop the rope around the tree. It will rot and/or abraid and break more quickly.
Tie the saddle to the barrel as tight as you can get it. You'll have to retighten after every ride or so.
Two ways to address the fall safety issues:
1. Old mattresses piled around underneath the barrel
2. Scoop out a foot of dirt in a 10 foot circle around the barrel and overfill it with sawdust.
3. Buy some tumbling crash pads
Instructions for use:
1. Put on a helmet.
2. Climb up in the saddle
3. 4 fiendish friends stand at the posts, one on each rope
4. The said 4 fiendish friends shake the ropes till you fall off.
5. If you want to make a competition of it get two 4 person teams. One team mans the ropes and the other team rides one at a time. Someone with a stopwatch times each ride, adds them all up and that's the team score. Which ever team has the longest time wins.
What's really fun is to suspend the barrel over a lake or swimming pool and when you fall in you get wet. Make sure you have at least 10 feet of clearance on all sides from the barrel.
© 2011 by Tom King
FYI: I do not recommend any of this. You can hurt yourself, especially if your friends are sadistic buggers and delight in making you fall really hard.