A blowgun or blowpipe is a simple weapon consisting of a small tube for firing light projectiles, or darts. The wielder blows into one end, forcing the dart out the other.
Sometimes, for increased effectiveness, the dart is tipped with a poison, most famously curare.
Many cultures have used this weapon, but various indigenous rain forest tribes in South America and South East Asia are the best known wielders. Blowguns are very rarely used by these tribes as actual weapons, they are used primarily to hunt small game such as monkeys.
Also, North American Cherokees were known for making blowguns out of river cane to supplement their diet with rabbits and other small creatures.
Today's modern man uses the blowgun with tranquilizer darts to help maintain today's wildlife. Herpetologists find the blowgun extremely useful in capturing elusive lizards with stun darts. Today, many people are finding that blowguns offer quite a challenging sport. With different darts to choose from, blowguns are finding their way into everyday society. With the introduction of paintballs and stun darts, the blowgun offers a wide variety of sporting activities.
Some modern blowguns have removable sections, and as a result, paintball adaptors have been made so that people can use blowguns as back up weapons. Some may even play it similarly to slingshot paintball.
There are several competition styles practiced around the world. A standardization of competition style, based upon fukiya, is being pursued by the International Fukiyado Association and hoped to become an Olympic event. It is a 10 meter target shooting, using a standardized barrel caliber and length, and a standardized dart length and weight, as outlined by IFA.
Two other styles are also being pursued to make up the Olympic blowgun event, both based upon the Cherokee Annual Gathering Blowgun Competition. The Field Style competition is similar to the winter Biathlon, where the shooter runs from a starting line to a target lane, shoots and retrieves the darts, and continue to the next station. The course length varies from 1/4 to 1/2 mile (400 to 800 m) or longer, with between 9 to 16 targets at various heights and shooting distances. The final style is the Long Distance target shoot. The target is a circle of 24 cm diameter, and the firing line is 20 meters away. Three darts are fired by each shooter, at least one must stick in the target. All successful shooters move to the next round, moving back 2 meters each time.