Henrietta, Texas, 1958: Billy Ray Johnson showed me how. You’ll need a shotgun shell, a bicycle spoke, a Kleenex, and some matches. Follow these instructions at your own risk.
Open the paper end of the shotgun shell — carefully — and take out the shot and the charge of gunpowder. Do not strike or mess with the firing cap on the metal end, because it can explode.
On one end of the bicycle spoke is a little knob, and on the other a removable sleeve. On the end with the knob, curl the spoke around to make a handle you can hold. On the other end, unscrew the sleeve and then screw it back reversed, but only screw it on about a quarter-inch. This will give you a tiny barrel sticking out.
Fill the barrel most of the way with gunpowder, then wrap a bit of Kleenex around one of the shot and push it into the barrel.
Hold the mini-zipgun facing away from yourself and everybody else. Outside, and clear of any pets is best. Heat the barrel with a match. Soon the gunpower will explode, shooting the shot somewhere. There is no telling where it will actually go.
Caution: the mini-zipgun is not a good choice for law enforcement or big-game hunting.