Quote of the day—Brian Keszler

My brother Scott passed away. From what we know, he was sitting at his computer desk and just fell over.

He was supposed to arrive in Phoenix around midnight last night and when we didn’t hear from him by this morning we started making phone calls.

We were able to get a deputy out to his apartment and have the office open the door. The chain was still latched from the inside but nobody responded. The fire department was called to enter the apartment and they found him there. A detective was brought in and said there was no sign of foul play. Given the family history with heart conditions and his many years of smoking, they’re guessing it was a heart attack. A medical examiner was supposed to do an autopsy on Monday but it sounds like they’re just going to do an “external examination”.

Scott absolutely loved the Boomershoot, and he loved sharing it with me, my wife Rachel, and our nephew Cody. He looked forward to it every year and planned ahead for it. He’d come to Phoenix for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the only other time he’d travel anywhere was the annual trek to Idaho so he could enjoy the event you put on.

I wanted to write and tell you the sad news, but also to thank you. The Boomershoot gave us a few extra days every year to hang out and have a good time together.

Brian Keszler
Email, November 21, 2015
[This is Scott at the Boomershoot staff dinner April 28th, 2011:


Here he is making targets at the Taj Mahal April 28th, 2011:


Here he is cleaning equipment after making targets at Boomershoot Mecca May 2nd, 2014:


Near the tree line May 2nd, 2015 with his brother Brian on the left, sister-in-law Rachel in the middle and Scott on the right. I don’t know the name of the guy wearing camouflage:


Scott has been attending Boomershoot since, I think, 2003. For a few years he would drive to Boomershoot from his home in Fargo North Dakota. Later he got a job in the Washington D.C. area and would drive from Virginia to North Dakota, load up his pickup, and then drive to Boomershoot. Yes, I said DRIVE! That’s about 2500 miles each way.

After a couple years of attending he volunteered to help. I accepted and he was always the first person, after me, to arrive. He brought the 200 foot tape we used to mark the shooting positions each year. He helped make the targets. He helped pound stakes, place targets, and came up with new ideas to make Boomershoot better. Each year he brought the two steel targets we would put on the hillside between 550 and 700 yards from the shooting line. If you hear the clang of a bullet on steel in any of the Boomershoot videos during the main event on Sunday it was almost for certain from one of Scott’s targets being hit.

The last several years he always picked shooting position number 46. This is in the “Main” section just to the left of the berm.

He also left a few comments here on this blog. There are 29 comments by my count. Here are some of the better ones:

Other blog posts that make mention of Scott:

He was 53 years old. That is much too young to die.

Scott will be greatly missed.—Joe]

Bullets and bombers

Sebastian sent me an email this morning and suggested:

Apparently the Paris bombers had vests made of TATP explosive material. I was wondering if it might make a good post on the nature of the explosive, and particularly its sensitivity to bullets.

Good idea. I have written a little bit about TATP before but not in this context.

Sebastian also wrote on the general topic today. I would like to add that steel matches are excellent practice for making multiple head shots. In the right circumstances five head shots can be made in two seconds flat.

If you are in a shooting situation where your target is in close proximity to TATP explosives you should either make certain you don’t hit the containers or you are prepared to accept the consequences of a detonation. TATP is extremely impact sensitive:

Acetone peroxide impact sensitivity by JudyMaceo

GlobalSecurity.org says, “TATP is one of the most sensitive explosives known, being extremely sensitive to impact, temperature change and friction.” I have zero doubt about a TATP bomb detonating from a bullet impact.

In the case of a suicide bomber give serious consideration to a head shot. This is not just because of the reason above but because if you don’t shut them down in a fraction of a second they are likely to manually detonate it after they take a solid hit to anything but the central nervous system. Even then, a deadman switch could cause detonation as soon as they let go.

The range of the explosion is of course dependent upon the amount of explosives and the type of fragmentation jacket (which creates the shrapnel) used, and the objects between the bomber and innocent people. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this but it is better than no information at all:

A common security drill against suspected suicide bombers is to isolate the suspect to at least 15 metres (49 ft) away from other people, and ask him to remove his upper clothing (coat, shirt, etc.) in order to see if there is an explosive vest strapped under them.

Personally I would want at least this much range between them and me and I would take cover as low to the ground as I could. You will also have fraction of a second between the time you pull the trigger and the time shrapnel arrives at your location. Use that time wisely.

Boomershoot 2016 registration

I keep getting asked about Boomershoot 2016. Yes. There will be a Boomershoot 2016. I’m (occasionally) working on the software to handle payment by credit card. I used Google Wallet for most of last year’s event but they discontinued that. I’m converting to PayPal but I just haven’t found the time to make much progress. I’m hoping that I will get it done over Thanksgiving vacation.

When I have it finished and tested I’ll let everyone know the registration dates.

ATF Data

The ATF tweeted about their Open Data website the other day and I started poking around this evening. There is some interesting stuff there. It includes developer APIs for accessing their data, number of people in various positions, budgets, the number of explosives manufactures in each state, the heat produced by burning a Christmas tree, and tons of other stuff.

Boomershoot infrastructure improvements

When the weather conditions are just right Boomershoot Mecca literally rains inside because of the condensation. Last weekend I hired someone who fixed that. But first I had to get almost everything out of the shipping container. There was over 4000 pounds of chemicals, plus tables, shelves, boxes, crates, mixers, tools, and lots of other “stuff”:


On Saturday, over the course of five hours, I converted what you see above into this:


Outside it looked like this:


It was a hot day. It was especially hot inside the shipping container. I had the thermometer within a few feet of the open door and out of the sun but still:


At least it was a dry heat.

The spray foam insulation guys arrived Monday morning and went to work:


Their equipment required 50 amps of 240V. That is 12 KW of power. My generator couldn’t supply that so I borrowed my brothers tractor and 30 KW generator:


While I masked off the electrical stuff they masked off the shelves and lights and put about 1.5 inches of insulation on the ceiling and walls:



We also insulated the magazine at the Taj Mahal:

WP_20150803_15_34_04_ProWeb WP_20150803_15_39_21_ProWeb

If we put dry ice in with the targets next year they will stay cold much longer this way.

Yes. The door was glued shut. The spray foam guy and I spent about 20 or 30 minutes cutting foam from the critical places so the door would actually be a door again.

Then they helped me move the chemicals and few other things back into Mecca. It took me about another four hours to get everything else back inside. It’s not pretty. It’s not neat. It’s not even functional. But everything that needs to stay dry is back inside:WP_20150803_19_42_32_ProWeb

I took a shower and was driving away from Mecca at 8:04 PM. Home is six hours away and after two stops for naps I put my head on the pillow in my own bed at exactly 3:30 AM Tuesday morning. I was at work the next morning by 9:00 AM.

When I weighed myself after getting out of the shower Tuesday morning I discovered I had lost six pounds over the weekend. For some reason I don’t eat as much as when I’m at home.

I’m sure glad this Boomershoot stuff is fun.

That was odd

Yesterday I mixed up some Boomerite a little differently than normal and had some interesting results from tests done within a couple hours of the mixing. This morning, about 20 hours after mixing I did some more detonation tests. I expected the original mix would be difficult to detonate with the .22 and maybe one or more of the new mixes would be relatively easy to detonate.


I had one original mix target fail to detonate at 25 yards, but then the next one detonated at 25 yards and the next two detonated at 30 yards. The decreased sensitivity after storage did not seem to occur. What is going on? Was the period of storage too short or the temperature too low for it to occur? It was stored at a temperature in the low 80s for several hours cooling to the low 60s at night.

The new mixes, except for the desiccant dried (DD: Dried with Desiccite 25) version seemed to be about the same sensitivity with fairly reliable detonation as 25 yards with occasional detonations at 30 yards. The DD version required 15 yards for reliable detonation.

The estimated velocities for this mornings test (60F) are:

  • 15 yards => 1429 fps
  • 25 yards => 1366 fps
  • 30 yards => 1335 fps

I guess I’ll have to store the targets longer to see if that makes the difference. It seems that it is always the case that more tests are needed.

That was interesting

I’m at Boomershoot Mecca today and among other things I started work on a Boomerite experiment.

The hypothesis being tested was that water from the Ethylene Glycol (it’s part of the manufacturing process) was degrading the mix over time. “Doc Brown” from work, as well as others, suggested I use a desiccant to remove the water. Ammonium Nitrate is a desiccant and I have tons of that laying around, would that work? Doc Brown said, “Tons? TONS!” I had a hard time getting him to stop obsessing over the quantity an focus on my question but ultimately he insisted that silica gel might be better. Because it probably won’t react with the Ethylene Glycol. He wasn’t sure what would happen with the AN. “But we mix the AN with the EG all the time now. I just want to grind it up some of it first, then mix it with the EG, rather than use it in prill form like we do now. He kept repeating “Tons!” and I had to change the subject.

Today I got to start the experiment.

I thought I had a bunch of silica gel laying around but it turns out it was Desiccite 25. Oh well, I’ll work with whatever I have. I cut open the bag and spread the content on a electric frying pan set at about 230 F. It was amazing the amount of water than condensed on the lid covering just half of the pan. After about 45 minutes no more water was condensing and I put the contents in a zip lock bag.

I put a couple of cups of AN prills in the blender and ground that into a fine powder then put it in the frying pan at about 200 F for about five minutes. No condensation so I put it in a zip lock bag as well.

I put about 3/4 of an inch of the two chemicals in the bottom of some paper cups and poured EG over the chemicals. I mixed the EG and the chemicals, put lids on them, and let them set for an hour.

While those were setting I made two batch of Boomerite. One was the original mix with no attempt to dry the EG. In the second batch I put 3/4 cup of the powdered AN in the bottom of the mixing bowl and put I the usual amount, 45 mL, of EG and mixed it into something which looked like a slushy. I then added 1500 grams prilled AN, mixed for a five seconds, added 400 grams of Potassium Chlorate, mixed for 30 seconds, add the mystery ingredient, and mixed for another 30 seconds. I called this mix Powdered Ammonium Nitrate Mix.

I then used the EG I poured off of the two paper cups I had set aside and mixed as usual.

All Boomerite was put in 3” boxes and closed up using heat shrink bags. The shrink was done using the electric skillet set at 225F.

That gave me four different batches of Boomerite:

  • OM: Original Mix
  • DD: Dried with Desiccite 25
  • DAN: Dried with Ammonium Nitrate
  • PANM: Powdered Ammonium Nitrate Mix

A couple hours later stored at a temperature of about 80F I tested them with CCI Stinger ammo from 25 yards away.


The original mix failed to go boom from 25 yards while the other three mixes detonated with solid hits. I moved to 15 yards and then the OM target detonated as well.

That was interesting. It was a sample size of one for the OM, but it appears that all three of the other mixes were more sensitive after two hours than the OM. That’s a good sign as long, as brother Doug pointed out, I don’t end up creating a contact explosive.

I’ll do the ~1 day storage detonation test tomorrow morning and report sometime after I get home tomorrow night.

It appears we may be filling in some of the columns on the spreadsheet.

And the winner is

Last month I had a photo caption contest and I have selected a winner. It is Defens with:

Fetch the stick, Feinstein!

I found this particularly amusing and applicable because one of my motivations for Boomershoot, and in particular the posting of the recipe for Boomerite, was because of a law that Senator Feinstein wrote and got passed many years ago. That law made it illegal to distribute “bomb making instructions”. We don’t use “the ‘B’ word” at Boomershoot. We make “reactive targets”. In part, Boomershoot is about mocking Senator Feinstein.

Boomershoot 2015 email

After Boomershoot I don’t want to even think about it for a while. Unless email requires a response from me I just let it set in my inbox. I finally got around to looking at the collection and thought I would share some of it.

From Cat:

Hi Joe,

I had a fantastic time at my first Boomershoot!
Thank you and your crew for making this event happen, and for supporting the 2nd amendment.
I hope to be back next year!

The BBQ was amazing!

She also shared a picture of the fireball:


From Matthew:

Enjoyed the opportunity to come with the guys and get to shoot.
Enjoyed meeting some of the other shooters, great folks!!!!!!

From Grete:


It was a great experience!

See you next year!

From Greg and Bob:

It was the most enjoyable event we’ve been to. The weather was perfect and our shooting neighbors were friendly. It was great. We did not have any issues during the event. The fireball was amazing, the targets exploded and the BBQ was excellent. Looking forward to next year.

From Joe:

Dear Joe,

Thanks again for this wonderful event. I have been coming for many years and each time is the best time I have all year. Looking forward to next years event already.

You and your crew give a great party!

From Bill:

Joe, I had a great time throughout the weekend.  Great people, food and scenery. Something I will do for next year is site my riffles better (add scope).

Mark your calendars. Boomershoot 2016 will be April 22nd, 23rd, and 24th.

So that is why!

I’m pretty sure Janelle and Barron told me at least the gist of what they were going to do. But my mind is running close to overload during Boomershoot and since their plans didn’t have much to do with running the event they got filtered.

I had been I wondering why in this picture Janelle was facing away from the fireball:


After finding this picture on Facebook I was able to reassemble the memory fragments:


Well done!

This is true

I’m unable to determine if this is a true story about someone else or some sort of joke webpage. But as applied to me the conclusions presented are absolutely true:

Presidential bid by Joe Huffman unlikely

Lack of name ID, fundraising hurdles are practically insurmountable for Huffman

The 2016 campaign for President is heating up, but Joe Huffman is likely to spend this race on the sidelines.

Based on the field of would-be Presidential candidates, it appears Huffman is already too far behind to mount a credible campaign, and for that reason would be unlikely to jump into the fray.

“Joe Huffman simply doesn’t have the name identification of Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush or any of the other top-tier candidates. And can Huffman raise a billion dollars of campaign cash in the next 18-months? Frankly, I’m skeptical. I say this all with due respect for Huffman and their family.”

Joe Huffman’s net worth would need to be competitive with that of Clinton or Bush, or they would need to have many wealthy, generous supporters to finance a credible presidential campaign.

Opposition researchers investigate all candidates’ backgrounds, hoping to find negative potential issues like an arrest, divorce, bankruptcy, affairs, girlfriend / boyfriend, mug shot, etc. If there were such issues for any potential candidate, that would be a challenge to overcome. For example, George W. Bush overcame the disclosure of an arrest for driving while intoxicated (DUI or DWI) in 2000 and was elected President.

While some may discount the possibility of Huffman jumping into the 2016 Presidential race, there remains a path Huffman could follow should they decide to run.

I’m sure there are many people who will be quite relieved. Why? We have to keep our priorities straight. I wouldn’t have time for Boomershoot next year if I were seriously campaigning.

Boomershoot image caption contest

Come up with the best caption for this image from Boomershoot 2015 in the comments and I’ll give you a free Boomershoot 2015 shirt, mug, or thong. Family and Boomershoot staff are welcome to participate but won’t be getting a free anything out of it.

My decision is autocratic, final, and may appear to be at random.


My thoughts are as follows:

  • Impressive stick throwing from 375 yards away.
  • You’ve proven yourself with the hastily constructed spears.Now try using lead projectiles to get detonations.
  • The BC of wood projectiles is too low to retain enough velocity for reliable detonation.
  • I know reloading components have been tough to come by recently but this substitute doesn’t have much future.

Images from Boomershoot 2015

This is my impression of Boomershoot 2015 in images and a few words.

WP_20150503_08_05_45_Pro__highresCreating a target rich environment.

The hillside as seen through a 6X scope.

Part of the tree line target area as seen through a 6X scope.

Nearly all of the target areas as seen from a 1.5X scope.

The fireball crew and their work of art. Barron doesn’t actually walk around with a road flare stuck in his ear. See more details here.

On the left Janelle is pregnant. On the right her husband Barron just initiated the fireball.
People inspecting the crater left by the fireball.

Adjusting the artillery for a long distance shot.

It wasn’t really indirect fire.


Taking a break.

This guy did his prep before he started shooting.

Barb and I patrol the shooting line (photo by Kim).

The two obvious hits are probably outside the active zone anyway. But the target is mostly empty from the rip in the lower right corner.

You’ve got the windage down. Let’s work on elevation.

It’s still a target rich environment at lunch time.


Boomershoot 2016 will be April 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. You know you want to. Start making your plans now.

Road flares and gasoline

The Boomershoot 2015 fireball was very well done and impressive. Here are some of the details of the construction.

There were 15 seven-inch square targets, each containing 800 grams (about 1.8 pounds) of Boomerite arranged as shown below around a 50 pound bag of powdered sugar:


The target in the lower right with the two red dots was facing the audience and shooter. This is the initiating target which propagated the detonation to the rest of the targets.

In the picture below you see 19 gallons of the gasoline/diesel mixture in place on top of the explosives.


The job of the explosives is to lift the gasoline and mix it in the air. Usually we have a ratio of explosives to gasoline of about 1 pounds to 2 gallons up to 1 pound to 1 gallon. This time it is about 1.4 to 1.


In the picture above we have the people that designed and constructed the fireball (left to right: Mike, Matthew, Barron, and Ry) along with the road flares attached with rubber bands to rebar and wooden sticks. One or more of these flares ignited the fuel air mixture.

In Phil’s slow motion video below you will see the ignition start on the side opposite the shooter and propagate to the remainder of the fuel-air mixture.

In this frame capture from Ry’s video you can see the dust propelled into the air some distance from the explosion. I suspect this is from the shock wave traveling through the ground.


In the still picture of mine below you can see pieces of shredded milk jugs which have been propelled beyond the expanding “ball” of fuel and that most of the fuel has been ignited. The flares mounted on the rebar and sticks are entirely engulfed in the fireball.


The following pictures is one of the most interesting fireball photos I have ever seen. Usually it is mushroom shaped or even flattens out more than the picture above. But this ball of fire barely touches the ground and is a decent approximation of a sphere. I’m not sure what the white streamers coming out of the fire are. Perhaps pieces of burning milk jug or lumps of powdered sugar.


Here, a fraction of a second later, we have the ball of fire suspended in air on what is a probably a column of water vapor from the explosives:


Here, another fraction of a second later, we have the fuel still burning high up in the air and forming a smoke ring:IMG_2701CroppedAdjusted

Watch Ry’s video and see the fire roll around in the sky. It’s amazing:

In the picture below, less than a minute after the explosion, we have Barron standing in the middle of the crater he created. But notice there is no fire on the ground. In years past there were patches of burning fuel on the ground. There was none this year. It all went up into the air.


Another thing, as pointed out by Ry this year and last (edited to add: Ry says the first time was 2011 or earlier), is that nearly all of the flares have been extinguished. Ry is the first person I know who has successfully extinguished road flares with gasoline.

Don’t try this at home. Come to Boomershoot 2016 instead.

Quote of the day—Barb L.

Your pants were dirtier than any of my kids clothes ever were.

Barb L.
May 4, 2015
[Boomershoot is dirty. If it rains then it is muddy. If it is dry then it is dusty. This year it was dusty.

She put my jeans through the washer twice.

She described her shower Saturday evening as “epic” with a river of muddy water flowing down the drain.

Here is her rental car the morning after Boomershoot:


But some people think the joy things like this brings makes it all worthwhile:


Barron (standing in the crater from the fireball crater he created) seemed to think so:


But that is just part of the reason of Why Boomershoot.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Kim Huffman-Scott

They are getting too fast and I couldn’t count.

Kim Huffman-Scott
Boomershoot Target Production Manager
May 2, 2015
[I put Kim in charge of target production this year. This is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It dramatically reduced my work load and stress level. But most of all she did an awesome job.

The production line is usually running for about 13 or 14 hours to produce the targets for Boomershoot. This time it was less than eight hours. Part of this was the enthusiastic “army of people” (as Barb describes it) there to help. But Kim figured out how to put them all to work and they listened to her.

Kim quickly identified bottlenecks and fixed them. This is a dynamic problem because it depends on which size targets are being produced and who is doing which job at the time. She  also would anticipate when to change the line to a new target type. This is tough because the production line may have 10 to 20 targets in various stages of completion but you only have a good count of the number of actually completed crates. The following video gives you a clue of what it was like. It doesn’t show the people outside folding the boxes.

As the production crew cranked up the production rate it became more and more difficult to get a snapshot of completed crates and targets in production. This resulted in today’s QOTD. She told me this a few minutes after I took the video above.—Joe]

Boomershoot 2015 status

The first day of Boomershoot 2015 is over.

From the participants viewpoint things are going quite well. The weather is good with moderately warm temperatures, no precipitation, and no to light winds. The Boomers seem to be detonating well if there are solid hits.

From the staff viewpoint things things are pretty good. The biggest hiccup was when the first thing this morning Barb’s rented car locked the doors automatically with the keys inside along with the cash box, wristbands, and the check-in list for the Precision Rifle clinic. This was 15 minutes before people were scheduled to check in. Barb was quite upset and I was almost unable to convince her it was going to be okay. She called the rental agency who had roadside assistance out in a little over an hour and unlocked her car. I set her up with my laptop and the electronic version of the check-in list. No wrist bands and the laptop was a little more awkward than crossing people off the list with a pen, but she got through it just fine.

Another minor issue was the private fireball didn’t work the first or second time. There was a combination of problems. Some of it was improper construction and some shooter problems as well. The third attempt at a fireball was acceptable:

There were some injuries. I twisted my ankle, Barb scraped her back a little bit, and we saw some moderately bad sunburns.

For me it is difficult to see anything but the flaws but I had several people tell me how much fun they were having and how great an event it is, and what I overhear and see on their faces confirm this. This is what makes Boomershoot worthwhile to me.

Quote of the day—Brad R. Torgersen

Sarah Hoyt — born in Portugal, naturalized to the U.S. — has seen this kind of thing before. It’s the old Stalinist-Marxist mentality which Sarah got to see up close and personal. It’s the mentality my former boss (who was a refugee from Soviet-era Poland) knew all too well, too. Frankly, any time I talk about the 21st century American fascination with political correctness, refugees from the Marxist countries recognize it instantly: the collective effort to control and dictate what is and is not permissible to say, or to think, or to feel, including who you can and cannot associate with; lest you be hauled before the commissars to be tried for guilt-by-association.

Fear is their weapon.

Brad R. Torgersen
April 12, 2015
Flaming rage nozzles of tolerance
[Solzhenitsyn has written about this too.

This mindset must not be allowed to dominate politics. The body count racked up by this mindset during the 20th century was in the hundreds of millions. We must prevent a repeat performance in the 21st century.

This is why I do Boomershoot.—Joe]