Christian ‘tree witch’ shooters admit their guns are dangerous “like bombs”

Remember the 400 rednecks who shot their guns at ‘tree witches’ for Jesus? No? It was for New Years – January 2nd – how could you forget?

Check it out:

I was on the receiving end of some hate from Cherryville natives – and my comments section was getting pretty heated. Over and over, people were claiming that this insanity was actually safe. Admittedly, I erroneously thought they were shooting live rounds. Turns out they were using ‘black powder and wad’, a DIY ‘blank’.

One of my readers – Beth – just made me smile. Beth wrote to the folks in charge at the Cherryville shooters. She respectfully asked them why they held their guns in such a peculiar manner. If you watch the video, you’ll notice several people falling over or otherwise getting injured.

But Beth got their leadership to brag about the unsafe act! More like this, readers!

They answered:

The reason the shooters shoot that way is to prevent injury. The blast from the hammer area along with the recoil will break your arm if you would hold it in a normal position shooting position.

It’s like having a bomb go off in your hand.

Thanks for the question.

Rusty Wise


Cheryyville New Year Shooters Inc.

I hereby reinstate my original question: WHERE THE HELL ARE THE POLICE?!?


18 hours of bombs going off in people’s hands?!? REALLY?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Woof

    Them Good Old Boys give rednecks a bad name.

  • Seamus Ruah

    Celebrate Freedumb!


  • rufus

    Home-made or not, you can still do considerable harm with a blank round. I should know, many years ago a “friend” gave my left buttock a codite and wadding tattoo with a Lee Enfield #4 from a range of about six feet.

    Both it, and my reaction, were quite painful. It was about a week before either of us were walking right…

  • ged

    As with a lot of ‘christian’ traditions, I’d guess this originates from an old pagan tradion of wassailing

    While the wiki entry doesn’t mention it directly, I know some Orchard Visiting wassails in the South West of England fire blank shotguns into the air to ward off evil spirits

  • Blank rounds aren’t always safe… just ask Brandon Lee…

  • Andrew Kilian

    This really doesn’t seem all that bad. Sure the origins may have been superstitious, but these people are just using it as an excuse to get together and celebrate. It may be a little ignorant, but hey it’s a party.

  • Paul Weaver

    While comparisons to Brandon Lee aren’t accurate – his “blank round” killing featured a bullet lodged in the barrel, rather than simply a blank – I am pleased that my initial assessment of severely over-charged guns was accurate.

    Dangerous practice, irresponsibly conducted in front of unaware people, and obnoxiously conducted using valuable antique guns.

  • Nomen Nescio

    um. i admit i haven’t watched all those videos — life’s too short — but how do we know their guns are valuable antiques? flintlock muzzleloaders are still being manufactured, after all.

  • If they are using flintlocks and having to fire that way, it sounds as if they are using way too much blackpowder in the chamber. Those types of rifle have long been safely fired from the shoulder in combat up to the mid 1800’s and for hunting and are still used by some hunters & recreational shooters.

  • Reverend PJ

    In the video it looked like they were using a film-can to measure out the powder.

  • mas528

    When I think of stupid blank accidents, I always go with Jon Erik Hexum.

    There was no bullet, just the paper wadding.

  • Jon Erik – I had such a crush on him.

    Even at the age of 16 I knew that blanks were dangerous, and I’ve never touched a gun in my life. Scary to see how many ‘expert’ gun owners haven’t a clue.

  • Beth

    Just to clarify: I wasn’t trying to get them to admit anything, Justin, I was simply trying to get an answer a question several of us had. I was also trying to make a point. Anyone can get information that way, including you. If you see something you think looks interesting (or weird), you can usually get someone to explain it for you if you ask.

    This doesn’t strike me as any less safe than the fireworks my neighbors set off on July 4th. I would like to know if there have been any injuries associated with “Tree Witch” shootings, but even if we knew that, we would need to account for total number a participants, ages, degree of alcohol consumption, and so on, to really compare the two activities. And you wouldn’t want to stop Patriotic Americans from celebrating their Freedom on Independence Day, would you? WOULD YOU?

    Maybe I’m wrong about the relative safety of this. You know a lot more about firearms than I do. Still, as long as they’re not shooting atheists out of trees, I really don’t see the problem.

    Everybody stand down.

  • Nomen Nescio

    if they’re truly overloading their rifles to the point where they can’t shoot them from the shoulder, as the weapons are designed to be operated (and they’re unimaginably stupid if that’s what’s going on), then there is a risk of a barrel exploding out of excessive pressure and/or metal fatigue. still, that’d be unlikely to injure anyone other than the fool who pulled the trigger. if any such injury had already occurred, i’d guess we would have heard of it in these threads by now — somebody or other would have been unable to refrain from gloating about it.

  • Phillip IV

    It seems similar to a tradition kept in parts of Southern Germany, and possibly stems from the same source. But the German “Böllerschützen” (nowadays) don’t use normal flintlock guns, they use special, very massive guns designed for the purpose. Similar to a blunderbuss, but even more massive and with a wider bore. They look like this:

    These guns also need a special permit, and must be regularly submitted for technical evaluations.

    I don’t know of any casualties connected to the German version, but just taking a normal handgun and overcharging it with gunpowder seems by nature far less safe.

  • Paul Weaver

    “Nomen Nescio says:

    January 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    um. i admit i haven’t watched all those videos — life’s too short — but how do we know their guns are valuable antiques? flintlock muzzleloaders are still being manufactured, after all.”

    As is explained in the video, the users are very proud of the fact that many of their guns are antiques – one cited the lineage of his 1851 musket.

    Most of the guns seemed to be percussion rifled muskets, from what I could see.

  • plutosdad

    This reminds me of the Mexican men running around on All Souls Day/Day of the Dead Nov 2 with huge brackets of fireworks on their shoulders. Though really they are rocket-type fireworks, spinning off hitting people as they take cover when the guy runs down the street. The government made it illegal because people kept getting hurt, but they still do it.

    I first saw it on Idiot Abroad, and we laughed at how ridiculous and stupid and dangerous the whole thing is.

  • Nomen Nescio

    Paul: if they’re actually overloading 150-year-old weapons — scratch that, if they’re using ironwork that old at anything beyond very minimal loadings — then i’ll have to amend another earlier comment of mine, and concede that these are indeed unimaginably stupid people.

    i’d be proud of owning a muzzleloader that old, too, if i had one. i’d never dare use it with actual blackpowder, or with more than maybe a half-charge at very most, however. who knows what condition the metal might be in, after so many years of unknown usage? i mean, blackpowder is corrosive

  • Justin Griffith

    Black Powder is corrosive.

    End of interview.

  • *sighs and heads over to The Darwin Awards*

  • anthonyallen

    That’s exactly what I was thinking, WMDKitty, these guys are definitely candidates.

    I was in a re-enactment group for about 4 years, and we fired black-powder all the time (with permits, of course) in 18th century replica flint-locks. Even fired live a few times. If they have to fire like that, they’re most definitely doing it wrong.

  • anthonyallen

    And by “live” I mean with real .75-caliber musket balls.

    (Couldn’t hit a 1 meter target from 50 meters with 3 tries, though… muskets are very poor weapons.)

  • StevoR

    I gotta say it looks to me pretty much like harmless if slightly dangerous fun.

    Reminds me of Guy Fawkes bonfire night – which we Aussies usedtocelebrate withfunworks & bonfires and theold chant “remember, remember the 5thof novemebr, gunpoweder treason and plot.”

    Where’s the harm? Okay, maybe they’ll accidentally hurt themsleves slightly, but they’ve chosen to do this and seem to be enjoying it and just letting off steam (& black powder) and enjoying themselves.

    Meh, I don’t see the problem, here.

  • StevoR

    D’oh! Make that :

    which we Aussies used to celebrate with fireworks & bonfires and the old chant ..

    & which came from England and the Gunpowder plot to blow up Parliament back in the era of King James I :

    Are these people forcing others to do it or using it to attack atheists or peoples rights? Are they putting anyone’s safety other than their own at risk? Is this quaint custom really a serious problem for anyone? I don’t see that.

    Criticising this strikes me as, frankly, pretty petty and snobbish.

  • Justin Griffith

    Did you read the chant? Did you see their repeated insistence that the point of the activity revolves around this chant?

    It’s 100% about proselytizing in 18 hour stretches.

    READ THE CHANT. Read my much more extensive research into their ‘important’ ‘mysterious’ chant. It’s literally a hymn, written by the same guy who did Amazing Grace… originally it even had a line about god taking a shit, but it was removed…

    The locals claim to be scaring away tree witches (or referring to their ancestors as having done so). But a careful inspection of the important chant reveals nothing about this. It’s really just evangelism, door-to-door style. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, but with fucking bombs in their hands.

    This is wrong. It’s dangerous, and they ADMIT IT. It’s illegal.

    You know what else? It’s okay to laugh at religion. Humor is one of the strongest weapons we have in this culture war.