The Rockets' Red Glare

A barrage of formidible projectiles.I know some things seem better in hindsight than they really were at the time. Still, I wish I could just go down to the local fireworks stand and buy a gross of pop-bottle rockets, the way we used to do when the world was young. I haven't seen a bottle rocket in many years, but of all the fireworks we used to play with on the fourth, those were my favorites.

I guess we did put a few in bottles, at first, but that was before we realized their true value as weapons of war. It's a waste of a perfectly good bottle rocket when it just goes up in the air and explodes, because your enemy doesn't care about stuff like that. What your enemy cares about is a carefully aimed barrage of rockets, especially when that barrage prevents him from firing his rockets at his own enemy, which in this case would be you.

Although there are many ways to launch a bottle rocket, my favorite was a section of pipe with a hole drilled approximately two thirds of the way from the end. The hole, of course, allowed the fuse to protrude from the bottom of the pipe so it could be lit by the Loader-Igniter Dude, while the Targeting Dude held the pipe on his shoulder like a bazooka. With the right LID, a competent TD could keep the enemy from becoming too comfortable in any one position on the battlefield.

Another strategy employed the same pipe-with-a-hole scheme, but expanded on the idea by using many pipes at once. How many depended on the war budget, but as I recall, one particularly good year resulted in the procurement of several bottle-rocket batteries consisting of a dozen pipes each. Needless to say, the enemy was completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rockets launched that night.

Sadly, those days are gone. On the other hand, I don't miss scrambling up cactus-infested slopes in the dark because one or more stray rockets have started grass fires. I don't miss sacrificing my prized jean jacket to the flames, either, attempting to extinguish those flames to avoid intervention by the local fire department. Come to think of it, maybe bottle-rocket warfare is one of those things that seems, in hindsight, better than it really was at the time.


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