Jay, from my place of work, is a novice shooter and doesn’t even own a gun. At a real Boomershoot he would have to borrow or buy a gun then wouldn’t really have much of a chance to even connect with one without a lot of help. He had watched the video, read the articles and wanted to try it. Ry and I made up some targets on the 19th and Jay showed up last Saturday on the 25th when Ry, Barb, and I were doing some improvements to the range.
It all started out pretty normal with me giving him the safety instructions and doing some dry fire exercises with him. The only thing a little unusual, up to this point, was him wanting me to shoot the first one. He got way back and watched as I shot one. He was a little concerned about his safety and wanted to see what the effect was on me. Ry tried to comfort (I think that was what he was trying to do) and told him that Ry was the only person to ever get hurt shooting boomers. He told Jay about getting hit by a rock at sufficiently high velocity that it pierced a hole through his cheek. And that was due to him not being fully myelinated. See Ry’s glossary entry for incompletely myelinated for what this means.
Jay then wanted to know about the rocks in the target area where we had placed his boomers. I told him that this particular shooting area didn’t have any rocks. I further explained normally we stayed 700 yards away from the boomers near rocks, but Ry, being incompletely myelinated, was about 10 or 15 yards away when he got his piercing.
I stayed around long enough for Ry to take some pictures as Jay started shooting and after a half-dozen shots or so Jay got is first boomer. Barb and I got on the cat and went off to the normal shooting position about 350 yards away.
I wondered about the combination of Jay and Ry out there together. How was Jay going to handle this whole thing? His normal demeanor, even at work, was something asymptotically approaching the timidity of a field mouse in the big city. Not only was he practically void of experience with guns, he had zero experience with explosives, and he was the only shooter that had ever not trusted our judgment on how close was safe. I had given him about ten minutes of instruction and disappeared off into the distance leaving him with stranger. A stranger who was the only person to have ever gotten hurt shooting boomers. I decided he would be fine. He came out here to have an adventure didn’t he?
I had just barely got started working up on the hill when I noticed some smoke coming up from the boomer area long after the previous explosion had gone off. I watched for a while but decided that it must just be the remnants of a fireball. I further assumed that since Jay was continuing to shoot at boomers that everything must be under control. I was correct on the first item but incorrect on the second. Jay’s adventure was started to expand into new areas.
As I watched Ry and Jay went over the top of the target berm into Alan’s stubble field. I watched with great interest now and considered calling them on the walkie-talkie but didn’t think Ry was carrying it with him (I was wrong again). After a half minute or so the smoke still hadn’t subsided and then Jay came running over the top of the berm towards me. I decided that was my “go“ signal. I put the cat in 5th gear and went full throttle straight towards them. The creek bed between us didn’t have a good crossing point there but to go to the end of the field where it did would probably double the time it would take me to get there. I knew I could get across one creek bank but was worried about the other side. I figured that if I had to I could do a very quick modification with the cat to get across and then fix it up afterwards. I didn’t have to. It was a steep climb but at a 30 degree angle or so in 1st gear the cat went right over it. Even in 5th gear at full throttle the cat has a top speed of about five miles an hour. And after slowing down for the creek bed crossing it probably took me nearly four minutes to get to the fire.
By the time I got there it had traveled west about 50 feet just a few feet from the base of a pine tree and it was blocking my direct path between the hay field I was in and the partially worked up stubble field that was on fire. I had to cross an old fence row where the blade wouldn’t even touch the ground where the fire was. So I ended driving through the fire to get to the level ground on the other side of it. The cat has steel on the ground and doesn’t need a particularly high O2 content to keep running. It was very smoky and rather warm as I drove through the fire and I hoped there weren’t too many exposed oil and grease patches on the underside of the cat. I turned around and would have normally went ahead of the fire to make a break but it was now at the base of the tree and I had to put that out. I concerned that if I pushed through the fire I would pushed it into and up the tree more and into the nearby brush. So I drove through it a second time to put the blade at the base of the tree (and in my excitement I got too close and cut the tree with the blade), stopped with flames and smoke coming up around me and had to find reverse, drop the blade, and drag it back through the fire while holding my breath. The fire was cut to probably 1/10 it’s size with just the one pass. I touched up in the tree area then went back towards it’s origins and finished off the hot spots.
After I had cleaned up Alan’s field as best I could I stopped and chatted with Ry and Jay some. I said I thought it would be best if they didn’t do any more fireballs. They didn’t seem to have a problem my suggestion and I went back across the creek to work on the shooting positions on the hill.
It turns out the titanium used to ignite the gasoline we use for the fireballs was sufficient to also ignite what appeared to be green, wet grass. Ry and Jay later had several more fires to put out but were able to do it without my help. I did watch them from the distance however and hoped Jay was enjoying his adventure. I wondered that since we attribute Ry’s uncanny ability to have exciting adventures without even trying to him being incompletely myelinated that perhaps Jay is over myelinated. It probably doesn’t work that way, but often when driving cat you have lots of time to think about things and come up with crazy ideas at times. I wondered if Jay had any crazy thoughts as he drove home alone that afternoon. Most likely he just thought we were crazy.
Ry took some pictures but he dropped his camera when the big fire started and didn’t get any pictures of me putting it out with the cat.