How to Be a Saboteur

© 2009 Brooke Allen
Originally published in International Family Magazine

When I was young, shooting a TV wasn’t as unusual as you might think.

I grew up at a time when it was not uncommon for a young boy or girl to receive a .22 rifle as a graduation present from the sixth grade.

Youngsters would take their rifles to the garbage dump and televisions were a favorite target. They produce such a satisfying sound when the picture tube implodes.

This is because they contain a vacuum and if the picture tube is broken, it implodes. The glass in the front is thick but the back tapers down to a neck of a few inches in diameter and as thin as a light bulb. The safe way of destroying a picture tube is to wrap a blanket around that neck and give it a light tap. The towel will collect the glass shards, and the thick face will easily stop the inrushing air.[1]

However, if you crack the face of the picture tube, the air will be funneled into the narrow neck, which will break off from the pressure and become a high velocity projectile.

A friend was at the dump and shot a picture tube that was outside of its case. The neck was facing him, and he managed to nick a corner of the glass where it was thickest. The neck traveled about fifty feet before it hit him. He was not badly injured, but good enough to make the story worth telling.

My father shot our TV through its face as it stood in our living room. The picture tube was still in the case and the debris was contained.

If you were to shoot a television or computer screen these days, I’d suggest you go for a flat panel. It won’t sound as good, but it is safer.

When shooting appliances, do not shoot at anything that can shoot back.


(Hopefully, they have not gotten wind of this story, and have not decided on preemptive action.)

[1] For details about picture tube implosions, see:

Author: Brooke Allen

Founder – Viral Virtue, Inc.

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