The first time I saw a blowgun in action was when I was about 13 years old. My martial arts instructor came into class carrying a six-foot mailing tube under his arm. When we asked him what it was, he explained that it was a Jivaro .38-caliber blowgun. I had seen ads for this gun in the back of a number of magazines and was always skeptical of the claims they made, like “35-pound anteater killed without the use of poison.” When my instructor demonstrated the gun, shooting it across the school into the back of our plywood sign, I was impressed. But when I tried to remove the spring-steel darts from the wooden sign and found that they were buried about ½-inch deep, I was hooked.

Within a week, I had purchased my own Jivaro gun and began experimenting with making my own. I also began researching blowguns and realized that there was precious little information in print about them. I continued to research, make, and experiment with blowguns over the next 20 years. I also had the opportunity to see some excellent traditional blowguns while living in Southeast Asia and even added several traditional guns to my collection.

After years of research and tinkering, I found that there was still no dedicated book available on the subject of blowguns—so I decided to write one. Having been a customer of Paladin Press™ for almost as long as I had been playing with blowguns, I was very familiar with their products and their editorial style. As such, I sent them a query (from Bangkok, where I was living at the time) and got a very enthusiastic response. After formally contracting for the book, I finished the manuscript and shot all the photos to support it. Thus, Blowguns became my first published book. As the first dedicated book on this topic, it also established me as an expert on the subject, which later led to a number of interviews and ultimately an appearance on the TV show Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Looking back at this book, I now realize all the things that I could have done better—or at least differently—and I’m often tempted to redo it to bring it up to date. At the same time, it still remains the most complete work on the subject ever written and, as my first book, a source of continued pride and accomplishment.

Michael D. Janich