Intra-office shenanigans

Twelve of us in the office act busy at our computers while keeping one eye on the target as he enters the room and makes his way to the trap armed at his desk. Without alarming the target, everyone tries to smoothly jockey for a clear view of the explosion that is moments away. He moves towards his chair as everyone grimaces in anticipation, but then heads over to the community fridge to grab his lunch. We all quietly sigh at the anti-climactic moment and slowly scan the target’s movement to the microwave where he punches in the time and fills up his water bottle at the sink. Tension builds again after he retrieves his lunch and heads toward his desk. For a brief moment, I consider the possibility of a chain reaction when the device is triggered: target has lunch in hand…device blows…target is shocked to the point of throwing his steaming lunch all over his own face. One can only hope for such a perfect result.

A day earlier, the device had been developed and modified for employment. A time was selected to strategically place the charge while the target would otherwise be occupied in a separate location and now here we were moments before detonation. The device was an actuator for a Life-Preserver Unit (LPU) that instantly punctures a small CO2 bottle which quickly inflates the bladder of the LPU allowing someone to float safely on the surface of the water. I had removed the actuator from the LPU and modified it by gluing the mouth of a small empty water bottle to the portion of the actuator where the gases from the CO2 cartridge are ejected. The butt-end of the water bottle had been removed and filled with fine cut paper shreds and climber’s chalk. This device was affixed to the front of the target’s chair so that upon pulling the chair backwards out from underneath his desk the device would be triggered to launch its payload skyward and showering the desk with a huge mess.

As the target places his lunch on his desk, he reaches for his chair and gives it a tug rearward detonating the device and instantly blowing shredded paper and chalk skyward in a volcanic-like eruption. Surprisingly, the crisp, loud hiss of the CO2 gases expanding elicited a flamboyant scream from the target. Not manly at all. More like a little girl scream. As if the device was a pissed off 8 foot coiled cobra ready to strike.

After much celebration and berating, our co-worker settled in to cleaning up the destruction that now covered his desk, chair, floor and most of the aisle. Spirits were high that day…for most of us.

The juice is worth the squeeze

Why are booby traps so important? Isn’t this all a little bit juvenile? Maybe, but I would argue that the science of traps is a valuable skill that enables one to:

  • better avoid them
  • build and place them when your life depends on it (play defense)
  • carryout mayhem on your enemies (dominate offense)
  • passively gather food
  • improve morale (in peacetime and real-world emergencies)

Traps are a force multiplier. If times get hard and I’ve got to pull security to protect something or someone I love, traps are there watching my back rain or shine. I can carry out other tasks while my traps are gathering food, alerting me to approaching danger, or even eliminating threats if the situation dictates.

Setting traps requires a solid understanding of the animal being targeted, their patterns and environment. Improvisation and creativity are the keys to success.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a CO2 launcher device:



  1. Remove the CO2 actuator from the LPU (note: there are 2 per LPU-great things come in pairs!)
  2. Cut the bottom half inch off your water bottle, remove the cap and superglue the bottle neck to the output end of the CO2 actuator.
  3. Make sure your actuator is reset before inserting your CO2 cartridge or it’ll puncture the cartridge as you screw it in
  4. Wait until the glue dries and load the bottle with your payload (don’t pack it down- loose is better).
  5. Attach some sort of line to the actuator pull tab (this could be dental floss, fishing line, 550 cord, etc.)
  6. Now you’re ready to place the device


This step is where your creativity will be tested. You’ll need to decide how the device will be triggered by your target. A pulling motion of about 1 pound will be enough to activate the CO2 cartridge, so you have lots of options for placement. I’ve used them on office chairs, trip wire set-ups, desk drawers and locker door applications with excellent results. Three important things to remember are:

1- Anchor the device well so when the tab is pulled the whole device doesn’t just go with the tab and not activate. I use duct tape in most cases, but have also used 550 cord affixed to the CO2 cartridge to keep the device stationary.

2- Keep in mind the direction of pull on the tab (in relation to the device) and try to line that up with the direction the object will move that your target will pull on to activate the device.dsc02155

3- The payload will launch in the direction the end of the bottle is facing so depending on what kind of hit you’re hoping for, you’ll need face the device in the vicinity you think your target will be when it’s activated. Obviously this is more important if you’re attempting a direct face shot (not recommended due to possibility of eye injury), but if you’re just trying to make a mess with shredder paper, facing the bottle straight up will do nicely. Again, duct tape will help get the device pointed and locked in the desired direction.

Other applications

In a more hostile environment, a device like this could be modified with a small diameter pipe (instead of a bottle) for the purpose of launching a nail, dart or other projectile to inflict harm on the person triggering it. Or if you just need the device to provide a warning once it’s triggered, you could affix a whistle to the output end so it gives an audible alarm.

There are a number of devices commercially available that can be modified or repurposed for use as a booby-trap. It only takes a little imagination and some improvising to make it work in an application that suits your needs.

Now that you’re armed with a baseline knowledge on traps, try testing your skills out on hapless co-workers. The office will appreciate the comic relief and you’ll develop a proficiency that will serve you well should you need it in more dire circumstances.

What booby-traps have you improvised? Leave a comment below.