HOWELL (AP) — A Michigan businessman is preparing to
defend the title he won by building a gun that fired a pumpkin
4,594 feet through the air.

Bruce Bradford, 57, is tight-lipped about the specifics of his
entry in the World Championship Punkin Chunkin.

Since 1986, the event has been held on a farm in
Delaware’s Sussex County.

The event begins Friday and is expected to draw 100 contestants
and 40,000 spectators.

“It’s classified,” Bradford, owner of S&G
Steel Erectors in Howell, told the Detroit Free Press. “All
the guys at Punkin Chunkin are great guys, but when it comes to
shooting, things get serious.

“This year, everyone will be gunning for me. They’re
not too happy that the trophy’s left Delaware two years in a
row now. Can’t say I blame them.”

Bradford became interested in the sport in 1998 when he read an
article about Punkin Chunkin and decided to fly to Delaware to
watch the competition.

A steel fabricator and member of the National Rifle Association,
Bradford said he wanted to get a closer look at the machines, but
security would not let him into the pits.

Pretending to be a reporter, he was allowed to enter.

“We drank beer, saw the machines, shucked oysters. It was
one big tailgate party. When we got back, we decided to build
one,” Branford said.

The gun, made of aluminum, weighs 18,000 pounds, and its barrel
extends 100 feet, sporting a 210-millimeter bore.

With its matte black paint, Second Amendment looks menacing, an
impression confirmed by the bright yellow lettering that reads:
“Baddest Punkin Gun on the Planet.”

In 1999, Bradford entered Second Amendment into competition and
finished fifth, with a shot of 3,059 feet. He made improvements
yearly, and in 2002 he was victorious with a ride of 3,882
feet.

This year, though, his confidence is waning.

On Sunday, Bradford and his eight-man team tinkered at a
friend’s Howell farm, making final adjustments and taking a
last round of practice shots.

They then planned to dismantle it and head to Delaware.

The team is nervous because this year, Delaware is requiring all
competing machines to have certification by the American
Association of Mechanical Engineers. That meant Bradford had to
install new tanks on Second Amendment.

“We’re a little apprehensive that there are some
unknowns, and we don’t have the gun firing the way we want it
to,” he said. “Plus, punkins are strange animals.
They’re like snowflakes — they’re all
different.”

Notice that Bradford said “punkin,” not pumpkin.

Those in the sport call the 8- to 10- pound gourds they chuck
punkins, not pumpkins. As they will quickly explain,
“pumpkins are for carving, punkins are for
chunkin.”

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