Simon Flint was arrested after a row with youths near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in June in which he pointed a loaded crossbow at them.
He had earlier admitted affray and possessing a prohibited weapon.
Teesside Crown Court heard the 42-year-old, of Meadowfield Drive, Eaglescliffe, had a fixation with weapons.
After his arrest, police searched a camper van in which he was living and found a “significant collection” of weapons, which also included swords, pepper spray and chemicals that could be used to make improvised explosive devices.
Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, told the court police searched his electronic devices and found videos of him blowing up an apple, a cucumber and a laptop computer.
He told police he thought the effect was “hilarious”, but he understood it may be illegal.
The court heard he told officers he had a fascination with “making things go bang”.
Flint had got into a row with some youths and when a dog walker went to be a peace-maker, the defendant pointed his crossbow at them, Mr Perks said.
Mr Perks said Flint was found to possess a number of stab vests, adding: “I think these acquisitions stem from a skewed sense of his need to defend himself.”
Mark Styles, defending, said: “His unorthodox interests have led to the situation he is now in.
“We have to concede he is certainly eccentric but he is not mentally ill.”
Judge Howard Crowson jailed him for two-and-a-half years, giving Flint credit for his guilty pleas.
Outside court, Gary Fotherill of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Flint appears to have been motivated by a compulsion to master the technical process of constructing improvised explosive devices and to use these to blow up inanimate objects for his own entertainment.”