The Talons began the Fall 1970 football season with a blast as they introduced their newest spirit project, a muzzleloader cannon. The cannon was fired by the Talons cannon crew to signal UNT touchdowns, kick-off, half-time, and the end of home football games as well as special occasions such as University Day. Boomer is a Civil War replica, about two-thirds to scale of a six-pound cannon. It was modeled after cannons originally used as light horse battery by confederate cavalry. Talons worked for more than three years to gild the cannon, receiving donations from many campus organizations to help complete the project. The cannon barrel was cast in Dallas, and Crawford Sloan of the physics shop helped build its carriage. The carriage was built on a trailer and equipped for highway travel so the Talons could take it on road trips. Although Boomer did go to some away games, many stadiums will not allow it because it fires gun powder rather than blank cartridges.
Boomer was originally fired using wadded newspapers. Because the paper occasionally started small fires, the cannon was not allowed on the Fouts Field's artificial turf. Talons cannon crew members now have an option of three firing methods. After the black powder charge is loaded and pierced, the battery unit, a firing squad of the cannon crew can fire electronically, with a live flame, or with the most frequently used brass cap and trigger hammer. A spark is created causing the black powder to explode and results in Boomerís famous boom.
The 1989 Boomer was also featured in Paramountís 1991 film, Necessary Roughness
. After the film crew saw and heard Boomer fire, they wrote an extra part in the film just for Boomerís appearance.
In fall 1996, a safety inspector deemed Boomer unsafe due to the deterioration of the combustion chamber. The Talons acted quickly with help from Gus Myers, Chuck Fuller, and Eagle's Nest, and purchased a new 250-pound, 43-inch steel-lined barrel from Dixie Gun Works.
Years later, UNT President Norval Pohl remarked that Boomer would look even more authentic with a limber. After hearing this, the Talons knew Boomer was still not complete and in fall 2007 the limber was introduced. Handcrafted of solid oak, the limber now carries all essentials for firing Boomer and also serves as a seat for Scrappy in parades.
Other cannons have come to UNT and been removed due to safety concerns. Boomer is the only remaining cannon allowed on campus.