Touchdown Cannon

The Touchdown Cannon, which once was fired at home football games whenever the Tigers scored, was introduced by the military honor society Scabbard and Blade in the late 1950s. Originally a Korean War surplus howitzer, the cannon was originally painted olive drab. However, it was soon customized for Ouachita with a coat of yellow gold paint with blaze tiger stripes.

After a series of accidents involving cannons used for spirit purposes on other campuses, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) sought to avoid liability by banning their use by campus military departments. Loathe to abandon the popular spirit cannon, Ouachita’s Scabbard and Blade chapter -- which was largely composed of Red Shirts -- ceded control of the cannon in 1965 to Rho Sigma, the acknowledged campus spirit leader.

However, campus authorities feared a Red Shirt monopoly on spirit. After all, Rho Sigma already sponsored the spirit hoop run-through, the torchlight parade and bonfire pep rally, and the famous cowbells. Campus officials arbitrary wrested custody of the cannon from the Red Shirts and awarded it instead to Sigma Alpha Sigma. The S’s had not even asked for the cannon.

In response, Red Shirts acquired a large church bell, painted it red and white, and began ringing it when the Tigers scored as the Victory Bell.

Starting in Fall 1971, the Victory Bell was used to draw attention to important football games through 24-hour bell rings. Currently, Rho Sigma rings the latest in a series of Victory Bells to rev up spirit for the annual Battle of the Ravine. The All-Night Bel-Ring and Tiger Guard has become an annual and popular event for students.

The Touchdown Cannon remained a popular feature of home football games and became one of Sigma Alpha Sigma’s main contributions to the student body. Over time, the howitzer was replaced by other cannons until the acquisition of the present cannon, which was set up as a memorial to Chris Dunaway, an SAS member who lost his life in an Army training exercise.

Recently, the NAIA banned all noisemakers at its football contests, so the cannon has been silenced. It remains, however, an interesting symbol of Tiger Spirit from years gone by.