Quote of the day—Ry Jones

Is this far enough?

Ry Jones
Asking me about the distance of his fireball creation from the spectators.
May 4, 2014
[This what the setup looked like:



It was about 30 yards from the shooting berm where all the spectators were. I said it should be fine. I had never seen any of our fireballs large enough to make that distance be an issue. And this configuration was such that it should make a “wall” of fire rather than a column or ball of fire. Even though it was nearly twice as much fuel as I we had ever used I just couldn’t see it being a problem.

I didn’t think it through.

I was doing the evaluation in regards to the spectators. I didn’t take into account that Ry had parked his pickup, lengthwise, between the spectators and the fireball. They were on the berm and could easily see over it. Ry didn’t move it as he usually did. He had Monte shoot the target probably another 30 feet from the end of the pickup closest to the fireball. This was the approximate distance Ry had set up his video camera and was hovering over when the fireball went off. This was his viewpoint:

From the viewpoint of Art to his right we see this:

Did you see that big blast of fire jetting to the left? That was directly toward Ry and Monte.

I was on the other side and this is my video:

You can see the muzzle of the gun in the video above as the fireball goes up. It disappears as the fireball grows. As the camera pans you can see Ry face down on the ground and Monte still retreating.

I think what happened was that the fuel ignited at the most distant location from the spectators. The expanding gases and increased pressure pushed the unburned fuel toward Monte and Ry. The unburned fuel then ignited as the fuel/air ratio became such that it supported combustion. This burst into the lower pressure air toward Ry and Monte.

I was correct in that it was far enough away from the spectators. But once I made that determination I did not reevaluate for the consideration of the status of Ry and Monte who were MUCH closer.

No one was hurt but it certainly was a lot more intense for them than anyone anticipated.

Here is the email thread between Ry, Monte, and I yesterday morning:

From: Monte
‎5/‎4/‎2014 8:12 PM
To: Bill W.; Joe
Subject: fireball

Any pics/video of the fireball / singed wookie event from this morning? 😉

On 05/05/2014 05:58 AM, Joe Huffman wrote:

From Ry’s Twitter feed:

@RyJones: Boomershoot 2014 fireball. from way too close. https://t.co/XnqbSpQTRu

@RyJones: Boomershoot 2014 fireball different angle: https://t.co/8y650tGLcD that big lobe going left got close

I’ll have more after I get home and have some time.

On May 5, 2014, at 6:35 AM, Monte wrote:

The first one looks kinda like my POV… but with less chunks of smoking debris inbound 😉
Good times.

From: Ry Jones
Sent: Monday, May 5, 2014 7:33 AM
To: Monte
Cc: Joe Huffman; Bill W.
Subject: Re: fireball

The guys down at RNS had some video that shows both of us deciding to get down out of the impending trip to the burn ward. Hopefully they post it.

After the fireball went up I went to check on Oleg who was about 50 yards the other side of the fireball from me. The first thing he told me was, “I seriously underestimated the size of that with my camera. I got an incredible video though.”

Everyone is okay. I don’t think there were even any actual singed hairs, peeled paint, or scorched canopies.—Joe]

Update: Barron put up a video also:


16 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Ry Jones

  1. Funny how time slows down in moments like this…

    Focus on the dot…
    Follow through…
    WOW thats big… here it comes…
    Dang thats hot… it’ll pass… wait for it… wait for it…
    It’s NOT passing… this shirt isn’t FR-rated…
    Time to RUN AWAY! 😉

    I checked, twice even just to be sure, but as Joe said, no whiskers were singed in the process. :p

    • It got to a point where the heat was building and building and then I was in the dirt. I could see the fire getting closer and… well, anyway.

      All credit to Barron, John, Kyle, and Monte for assembling the fireball. All I did was light the flares and duck.

  2. Very well done fireball. Certainly the best of the past 4 years that I’ve been going.

  3. I was directly behind Monte, and the first wave of heat and pressure made me drop my camera angle to my feet. (Note to self, use tripod next year!). A lot of debris rained down onto the roof of the canopy I was under, but I didn’t see any holes in the fabric.

    We did have about a 4-5 mile per hour headwind at detonation time. I suspect that had a small part in the drift of lighter debris, but not much overall on the flame patterns because the expansion was so much faster anyways.

    Best Fireball so far, at least in the 7 or 8 Boomershoots I’ve been to! Congrats to all who put it together.

  4. I think a weapon-mounted camera should be on the list for next year!

    Ry, I’ll have to see if I can get my ShotCam up and working by then 😉

    • The good: get a really cool view.
      The bad: you get proof of muzzle control, or not… But it’s hard to beat feet one way while keeping the muzzle pointed behind you – it’s not a normally practiced drill. I’ll post my pics later.

      • True. I admit that it took a step or two for my brain to catch up once my feet started moving.

  5. Joe,
    quite often lately, I get a 503 response, service not found? when I come here. Sometimes on the blog, more often for comments. Today, I got both comments sections to come up, after repeating the attempt. Some days, I have to check later in the day to get your blog. This has been going on for a couple weeks, I think. Your blog is the only one doing this, so probably at your end.

  6. Nice work, Folks.

    I got to touch one off several years ago, for which I was, and am, grateful.

    Joe says Boomershoot is something like Disneyland. I say Disneyland has a lot of catching up to do– You can’t set off explosives or shoot stuff there. There’s neat stuff in Disneyland, but it’s all done for you. At Boomershoot you get to do stuff for yourself, which is far better, and you can hone your skills while having all that fun.

  7. At 50 yards to the side, I didn’t even feel the heat. But I did end up with close-ups of the fireball texture with my camera lens set to 135mm. I should have taken up on another hillside to get it all in. Video angle of view which had the participants on one side and the fireball on the other was *just* wide enough.

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  10. The video from the future year where your explosion is just a bit too big will hopefully never be made.

    Close enough counts for horseshoes, hand grenades and giant fireballs.

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