Ah yes, funny how you can easily forget something from your youth, yet the description of the flaming arrow on a wire to the campfire brings it all back. Camp Squanto BSA, Plymouth, Massachusetts . . . 1975 - 1980. Yikes, that was a long time ago.
Naughty yes. I AM a naughty bugger.
Risky...well if it blew up right in your face it might be dangerous, but unless you made a huge one you wouldn't really stand much chance of injuring yourself.
I've always worn glasses but if I didn't I would wear some eye protection when installing one now. But whether I would have done at the time (I was about 19 then, and 54 now) I couldn't say. When you're 19 you think you're bulletproof.....
Wow, your post takes me back. We did exactly the same thing in a YMCA father-child group I used to belong to that was heavy on camping trips. Lots of EEs in the group, so naturally we had to have magical self-igniting campfires at our ceremonies to instill a sense of wonder and amazement in the kids.
The flaming arrow shot from a bow up in a tree was always backed up by a battery and a pyrogenic electric match. Pre-soaking the logs in flammable petroleum distillates didn't hurt either :)
This is similar to a trick used at Boy Scout camp.
The basic idea was to light the nightly campfire by sending an lighted arrow down a slanted wire into the campfire kindling, thus lighting the campfire. For some reason, the leaders decided this was somewhat dangerous (someone had to climb a tree and light the fire) and that it didn't quite achieve the mysterious effect they want.
So they opted to the above mentioned trick without the explosion. Success was achieved by multiple matches and a multiple single strands of wire. I got to set it up each night and turn it on. At the appropriate invocation, a lantern battery and knife switch set the ceremony in motion. It always worked.