Capturing the changes

Last month I made some substantial changes in the landscape around the Boomershoot explosives production facility (Mecca). I took pictures but I was frustrated they just didn’t seem to capture the changes. Barb and I were there again this weekend and in addition to some minor additional changes, such as spreading grass seed around and raking the seed into the dirt:


I took some more pictures. I think this one captures things much better:


I also was able to take a picture that better captures what the new tent site looks like:


Boomershoot 2015 statistics

Boomershoot 2015 is now half full:

  Total Average per position taken Average per total positions
Positions Taken 38 - 0.50
Participants 71 1.87 0.93
Friday Field Fire participants 11 0.29 0.14
Friday Clinic participants 6 0.16 0.08
Friday High Intensity participants 16 0.42 0.21
Private Fireball participants 0 0.00 0.00
Saturday Field Fire participants 29 0.76 0.38
Saturday Clinic participants 4 0.11 0.05
Saturday High Intensity participants 8 0.21 0.11
Dinner participants 37 0.97 0.49
Shooters 70 1.84 0.92
Spotters 1 0.03 0.01
Media/Bloggers 9 0.24 0.12
ATF Approved 12 0.32 0.16
Staff 24 0.63 0.32

Keep in mind this after the event has been open for entry for a little over a week and over seven months before the event. There are still positions open in every area so whether you want to shoot from the well drained ground on the berm, with a bench with room for a canopy, or in the .50 Caliber Ghetto you still have those options available.

There are still opening for Private Fireballs too. The smoke from these can sometimes be seen from over three quarters of a mile away. It’s tough to describe the intensity of the blast when you are 50 feet away. The phrase we hear about 75% of the time from first timers is, “Holy shit!

Sign up here.

Bomb help update

Early this morning I received the following email (name and email changed to protect the guilty):

From: XXX YYY []
Sent: Saturday, September 27, 2014 1:52 AM
Subject: removal of blog post

Dear Joe, I would like to ask you to remove a blog post concerning me ( relating to an old email address of mine while I was suffering badly from a nervous breakdown, depression, and various other mental illnesses due to prolonged physical  and psychological bullying. As I have moved on in my life now, I would like you to remove this post as it has many references to my name and email that has caused problems when finding jobs.

Thank you and kindest regards, XXX YYY

I didn’t remove the post but I did change the name and email address and sent him a polite reply wishing him well.

Google Wallet

Does anyone use Google Wallet to pay for things?

The reason I ask is because I am setting up the Boomershoot entry website to use Google Wallet for credit card payments. I get a better rate than with PayPal or Amazon and, at one point, their terms of service were more gun friendly. But now their current terms of service in regards to weapons aren’t much different from PayPal’s terms of service.

What I didn’t realize until I was doing some testing was that you have to create a Google Wallet account with name, address, as well as credit card information. You can’t just give your credit card information and pay. This takes more time and one more business has your credit card info and has the potential to lose your credit card info to thieves.

I expect far more people have Amazon and PayPal accounts than they do Google Wallet accounts.

If you were purchasing an entry to Boomershoot and paying with a credit card would the additional Google Wallet account creation be an issue for you? If it makes a difference you can still pay with a check money order via snail mail.

Mostly off-topic but I found this clause in Google’s buyer terms of service interesting:


To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each individual or business that opens an account or requests credit.

Rearranging dirt and rocks

In preparation for the delivery of the 5000 pounds of fun this last weekend I, as Barb expressed it, rearranged some dirt and rocks around Boomershoot Mecca.

Here are the before and after panoramas:



It’s a little difficult to judge what was really done because in the first picture there are a lot of tall weeds blocking the view of the dirt and rocks.

Here are some pictures of one of the new piles of rocks to give you a clue:



I am a little concerned that I might have created conditions for some major snow drifts near the door to the shipping container. Drifts have formed before but they weren’t large and were of little concern. If the weather conditions are just right I can see the wind now dumping major amounts of snow in front of the door.

Most of the rocks were moved with the bulldozer but hundreds of the smaller ones were moved by hand. I was unable to smooth the dirt out with the rocks embedded in the soil. The really large rocks I could move with the dozer. But baseball sized to almost basketball sized rocks were tough. They would lift the blade if I didn’t apply downward pressure. And if I applied enough pressure to move the rocks I would move large amounts of dirt at the same time. I spent a couple hours moving them by hand and then smoothed the ground with the dozer.

The end result was a lot more area for vehicles to maneuver and park on the east end of the shipping container:


There is a much nicer path from the parking area on the north size of the hilltop to the shipping container now:


It used to be weeds and a maze of rocks to navigate.

The stack of half-length railroad ties is to block some of the sound of the generator. I used to have the generator on the south side of the container but when I was planning these improvements Ry suggested I make a spot on the north side because the power connector was on the north side and for the same power cord length I could get the generator further away.

I came up with and tested a new equipment wash station:


The bag of water is a three gallon solar shower. After about two or three hours in the summer sun it has enough hot water to give at least two people a decent shower. It also does a nice job of delivering hot water for washing the chemicals off of the mixing equipment. The barrel top works as a shallow sink. This is so much better than bending over some railroad ties on a rocky hillside and washing in cold water. The hot water will dissolve the chemicals much better as well as being more comfortable.

I also finally got the eight foot long grounding rod to what I consider the final depth:


I’ve been pounding on this rod when I visit for years.

I also leveled a much larger area for tents and sleeping bags on the very top under the trees. It’s hard to tell from the pictures. The lighting was so high contrast that you can’t really see how level and smooth the area is but it’s really nice when you see it in person even if it looks like crap in the picture:


Later this fall or early next spring I’ll plant all the bare dirt to grass with the possible exception of some of the area directly in front of the shipping container doors. I’ll put gravel there if I get the chance.

5000 pounds of fun

As I said yesterday I was at the Boomershoot site this last weekend.

The main objective was to take delivery on ammonium nitrate for future Boomershoots. Last time (see also here) I ordered 3000 pounds of AN and they brought a semi-truck and trailer. It was difficult to get it into a position close to the entrance of my shipping container production facility. So in the two days before the delivery I rearranged the dirt and rocks in front of the facility to make it easier to get into position.

This time I ordered two thirds more and they put it in something resembling a horse trailer pulled by a large pickup instead of the larger semi. Oh well, I like the changes I made and it was still easier for them than it would have been had I not moved the dirt and rocks.

At first we put down some rollers to unload the material. I’m sorry for the atrocious picture. The lens of my cell phone camera was dirty and I didn’t want to waste time cleaning it to get a good picture when the delivery guy was waiting on me:


After maybe five bags with me carrying them 30+ feet to the rear of the shipping container and the delivery guy mostly waiting for my return he put the rollers away and moved the pallet to the rear of the trailer. Then we both pulled the 50 pound bags off the back of the trailer and carried them to the far end of the container and stacked them.

From the time he was backing the trailer up to the container until they were all neatly stacked at the opposite end of the container was only 28 minutes.


I did a lot of puttering around after he left. I removed bunch of old cardboard boxes for disposal at a recycling center. I had moved a lot of things out of the way to have a clear path to the rear and I put those back where I wanted them. I put the AN from two years ago on top of the latest delivery. An interesting thing I noted when I did this was that the date on the new bags AN was September 4, 2014 and the date on the old bags was September 4, 2012.

I tucked the tarp in around the AN and put a plastic sheet over the top to keep the condensation and occasional snow (that sometimes blows in through the ceiling vent) off the chemicals:


The ceiling of the container is not really sloped. It’s just the distortion from the wide angle lens on the phone camera.

We now have 5000+ pounds of fun ready for use in Boomerite at Boomershoots 2015, 2016, and beyond.

Bath time

I did a bunch of dozer work at Boomershoot Mecca this weekend. It was very dirty work. The ground was very dry and it turned to powder as soon as I broke it up with the blade. I got really dirty:


I wore gloves and my hand was clean by comparison:


I have a solar heated shower at Mecca so I dusted off my clothes and rinsed off my head, arms and hands before I got in my car and left for the day.

But what I didn’t have there was my gun cleaning supplies.


It probably is functional for at least as many shots as would be needed in a self-defense situation. But I’m sure the wear rate would be dramatically increased with the oil being soaked up by the dust. And the odds of a malfunction have to be much higher than normal.

It’s ultrasonic bath time for my STI.


The other day Kevin made a post about the inflated price of reloading ammunition.

Today I was looking at the price of Ammonium Nitrate which is the principle ingredient in Boomerite.

In 2005 I paid $0.14/pound.

In 2007 I paid $0.50/pound.

In 2012 I paid $0.99/pound (see also the pictures of it here).

Today it costs $1.06/pound.

The price of freedom supplies keeps going up.

Update: As requested by Paul Koning I have expressed it in ounces of gold per ton of AN:

  • 2005: 0.655
  • 2007: 1.525
  • 2012: 1.169
  • 2014: 1.669

Boomershoot steel target testing

Phil repaired the Boomershoot target steel someone (not a Boomershooter, it’s a long story) damaged with steel core bullets. This last weekend I tested the “target dog” he built for me. It was also the first time I had shot at the steel myself from further than about 75 yards.

Except for a single shot with a .40 S&W from about 20 yards all the shots were from 375 yards.


The target is 3/4” AR500 so they are not your standard pistol targets. They were intended to stand up to .300 Win Mag from 375 yards and beyond. The white splotches on the target above were almost all from 55 grain .223 FMJ bullets at 375 yards. They barely took the paint off and as near as I could tell did not rock the target backward. The spring, as Phil noted, is way too stiff for that. And I suspect that with a .223 and that massive of a target it’s physically impossible to select a spring such that a bullet strike would knock it backward such that a mild breeze wouldn’t also do that. The .40 S&W didn’t move the target either.


Notice the white stuff at the base of the target? That is lead spray from the bullet strikes on the target.

I was trying to zero my .300 Win Mag, without a spotter, from 375 yards and only got two hits as I probed different hold overs and unders. And the bullet splash on the steel was so small I couldn’t see it even with the 14 power scope at that distance. Here you see the impact from a 190 grain Sierra Match King bullet hitting the steel at about 2475 fps:


There is just the tiniest of craters there.

A hit on the edge of the steel is another matter:


The two .300 Win Mag hits weren’t particularly good to judge the knockdown potential of the configuration but as near as I could tell there was, again, no movement.

I’m extremely pleased with the crater repair Phil did. The targets look awesome! But we need to crunch some numbers to see if it is possible to choose a spring or maybe redesign the target dog such that it will be self resetting for a .30 caliber bullet at Boomershoot distances.

Quote of the day—Ben

Why don’t you do this every day?

June 21, 2014
[This was after shooting a dozen or so boomers at a surprise private Boomershoot party. It was for his birthday.

Ben and three others drove from the Seattle area to the Boomershoot site. There they helped Barb and I make about 60 reactive targets and clean up Mecca. We then went to the tree-line and while Barb mounted the targets on stakes I gave them some safety and shooting instructions.

They were all essentially new shooters. I positioned them about 30 yards away and with an AR equipped with a low powered scope shot from a bench. The seven inch targets were easy pickings. There were almost zero misses.

Only one of them had ever fired an AR style rifle. Occasionally I had to remind them of one of the safety rules but they did well. And of course that new shooter smile was made all the bigger with his first shot detonating a boomer..


Update: More pictures.

Cleaning up Mecca while Barb shrink-wraps the rest of the targets.

Cleaning up the mixing equipment.

I think we are done here

I made a Facebook friend request to someone I have known for over 30 years. I hadn’t had any contact with her for probably four years but it sounds like a mutual friend from our past lost their son and I wondered if she knew something about it.

In response to my friend request I got this:

Hi Joe, I am chair of the Veterans For Peace Environmental Cost of War and Militarism Working Group. Because you have chosen to become a militant enemy of your local environment by exploding bombs on it, I do not want to be your Facebook friend.

Killing everything in that spot of Mother Earth that you choose to desecrate for fun and leaving behind the heavy metals to poison the water of future generations is appalling to me.

I’m not just picking on you personally. I’m against bombs, bombing ranges, chemical and depleted uranium weapons, mining where the people of the land are forced off of their property, and many other things involved with the military-industrial-1% complex.

If you could put some of your intelligence into figuring out how to bring down global capitalism and war profiteering, encourage farming and local food buying, conversion from fossil fuels and endless consumption to conservation and cleaner energy, stopping fracking, nuclear power, and the war against the indigenous, I’d love to hear your ideas.


I knew she was of significantly different political persuasion than me even when we were close. But wow! Bring down “global capitalism”?

I think we are done here.

Quote of the day—Lyle

For me it’s become a moment of detached concentration. Load, safety off, aim, fire, boom, aim, fire, boom, aim, fire, time of flight is perceptible even at near Mach three at close range, aim, fire, hit too low and the target jumped into the air (sight over bore offset– gotta aim a tad high), aim, fire, boom, and so on. Maybe I’m hogging the targets.  Is that rude, like taking most of the oysters at the buffet? The explosions register the hits. Maybe that torn target still has some Boomerite in the bottom. Shoot lower. That’s it. I sense the excitement in others, and the rushing of shots around me, resulting in misses, stirring up the dirt like the surface of a soup pot in a rapid boil…

I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. Quietness. The concussions provide a gentle massage while dining on fine, close targets, but mainly they’re confirmations of hits. The reports of all the shooting, blending into a steady roar, provide the background music, and the peppery smell of burning nitro the potpourri. Ambience. Candle light from the muzzle of the 30 Carbine pistol to my left…

A fine establishment. I highly recommend it. Five stars.

June 7, 2014
Comment to Boomershoot 2014 High Intensity
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]

A new Internet connection

Off and on for a couple years and then starting in during the week between last Christmas and New Years I have spent a LOT of time trying to get a good Internet connection to my brother Doug. I have a good connection at Boomershoot Mecca but Doug and his family are blocked by the woods behind their house from Teakean Butte which is the source of my connection. They have a satellite connection that cost a lot of money, is unreliable, has HORRIBLE ping times, and poor transfer rates.

Mecca is 1.6 miles from our Dad’s house and is blocked by a small hill. Doug’s house is about 75 yards further still. And Dad’s house, a machine shed, and the hill block their view of the Boomershoot site. So we had to find a way around the hill just get it to Dad’s place. From Dad’s place it is a pretty easy hop around the machine shed. But first we needed to get to Dad’s place.

The obvious answer is to put a repeater on the hill between Mecca and Dad’s place. But we don’t own the hill. The nickname we have for the owner is “Wicked Witch of the Boomershoot”. So you can imagine how well such a request might be greeted with. I wouldn’t be surprised if she complained about us transmitting electromagnetic waves over her property—if she knew about it.

Anyway the best we could come up with was putting a repeater on a hill I own 1.7 miles from Dad’s house. Yup. We go further way to get a better signal to Dad’s place.

The ordinary Nanostation2s should work for several miles under ideal conditions. But this isn’t an ideal situation. We are probably actually just out of line of sight. In December I couldn’t get things to quite work unless I chose a different hill which belongs to cousin Alan. We probably could have gotten permission from him but at that location we needed to have two Nanostation2s, one pointed toward Mecca and the other toward Dad’s house.

I ordered a parabolic reflector hi-gain external antenna and came back the end of February. And found to my delight that I had good signal strength with just the Nanostation2s, completely different results that when I had done my tests in December. I still wasn’t able to get a high bandwidth connection but I was pretty sure it was a configuration issue on my part. Doug purchased the equipment he would need to get solar power on my hill to power the Nanostation2 and I planned to come back in a few weeks and do my part with the configuration of the Nanostation2s.

I went back in April and again tried to get a connection. Now the Nanostation2s alone didn’t work. The signal strength was back to what I had in December which was too low to be usable. What is going on? I suspect some differences in the ground conductivity or something. I just don’t know for certain. Again I gave up for the moment.

This weekend with the help of daughter Kim, Jacob, and Jeff I did some Boomershoot cleanup, mounted more solar panels on Boomershoot Mecca, and took down a solar panel that Doug was going to use for the repeater. I then proceeded to do some more signal strength testing.

I put up a twelve dBi antenna (a Nanostation2 has a 10 dBi internal antenna) on my hill attached to a Ubiquiti BulletM2 (the same one I used at Boomershoot with great success) and with the parabolic (24 dBi) antenna on a Nanostation2 at Dad’s place was able to get good signal strength. But for some reason the bandwidth sucked. Probably a configuration issue I guessed.

Doug wanted to avoid mounting anything on the outside of Dad’s house so I moved the parabolic antenna to the BulletM2 on my hill and used the internal 10 dBi antenna on a Nanostation2 at Dad’s place. It should only be a 2 dB loss compared to the 12 dBi antenna we were testing with before.

Signal strength was good but the bandwidth was in the toilet. I’m talking throughput to the Internet on the order of 60 kbs download and 10 kbs upload. It has to be a configuration issue. I spent hours trying all kinds of things with no success.

I finally decided the BulletM2 on my hill had to be the problem. So Monday afternoon I put in a Nanostation2 in place of the BulletM2 driving the parabolic antenna:


It worked. Just this minute I have 2.11 Mbps download and 0.68 Mbps upload from my computer through a WiFi access point in their house, a switch, five Nanostations (remember I needed to hop around the machine shed), the router at Mecca (two miles away via the Nanostation path), and to the outside world.

Tomorrow I bring my Verizon Network Extender to test out in their house. I’ll finally have them connected to the rest of the world in a civilized manner.

Update: Early (6:19) in the morning the connection to the rest of the world was less busy and I got this result:


Yeah. I’m all thrilled about something that is considered poor service by anybody in a major city but this is out in an area where it’s tough to even get cell service. Only Verizon and Inland Cellular even have a hint of service here. And then it is very spotting and intermittent. You have to travel at 20 miles, as the crow flies, to get service from AT&T or T-Mobile.

Their satellite ISP has an advertised (but never realized) download rate of 1.5 Mbs and upload of 256 kps plus a download data limit of 17 Gbytes per month. Ping times are in the 1.25 second range. If you watch a few movies and do a bit of web browsing you exceed that data limit. This is so much better and they will have a solid Verizon connection in their house in a few hours.