Boomershoot driveway improvement

As I mentioned at the Boomershoot dinner this year I contacted someone to fix the driveway into the parking area. I told him it wasn’t urgent and as long as it was finished before the roads got too soft in the fall (the county puts load limits on the roads that would have prevent him from hauling the 200+ tons of gravel to Boomershoot). I suggested sometime in September would be the latest that would assure it would get done before it got too wet.

In early September I started bugging him. I was less than happy with the (lack of) response and commitment over the following weeks and had essentially given up on him. Last week he finally called and said he was still going to do it.

Today, via my web cam (see here), I can see work being done:P17111311501510P17111312255510

For the last several years I have been making improvements to safety and target production facilities. This will be the biggest improvement specific to the participant experience I have made in many years. I’m glad it is finally getting done.

Taj Mahal maintenance

In addition to attending the USPSA match in Idaho last weekend I did some maintenance on the Taj Mahal. When I was there on July 1st and 2nd there was a mouse nest inside the storage magazine:

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I removed it and cleaned the rest of the shed so when the ATF inspector arrived four weeks later it was clean and tidy:

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The inspection went fine even though there are a lot of Yellow Jackets and nests inside the shed.

The mice have a been a problem for years and have done a lot of damage. A couple weeks ago when I was walking through Home Depot with Barb I saw the spray foam insulation. I bought three cans and figured this will keep the mice out. I probably should have bought the version with a bitter additive which is specifically intended to keep pests out. But I didn’t know it existed and didn’t find out about it until I went looking on Amazon when writing this blog post.

So…. Saturday morning I moved almost everything out of the shed to get better access. As I removed stuff we had stored there I got better and better access to all the Yellow Jacket nests. I also had a spray which is supposed to kill flying insects and is non-toxic to humans and pets. I didn’t read the fine print before buying it and found out that for large stinging insects to use something a little different and still have the non-toxic feature. The spray I used would kill maybe one out of 20 Yellow Jackets. Maybe a third would go down it they were hit hard enough but then they would appear to rub it off for a minute or so then fly away. The rest just flew away with no apparent ill effects. But at least as I sprayed the nests and the area they left. I removed something like seven to ten nests and swept the floor and the area of the shed where the cracks were.

Before:

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After clean up:

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After applying the expanding foam insulation:

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It’s not the neatest job, by far, but it is functional. The splatters on the roof are from when the spray foam insulation guys insulated the magazine two years ago.

At the base of the door to the magazine I put down a bead of the insulation, put a plastic garbage bag over it, then closed the door on it such that it would expand to fill the gap at the bottom of the door where the mice had to be getting in.

After it dried I opened the door, removed the plastic bag and we now have a near perfect seal at the bottom of the door.

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I’m certain this will block the mice from the magazine and I think I have them blocked from the shed as well. The Yellow Jackets can probably still find a way in around the shed door but their access is severely limited compared to what it was.

I threw away some stuff and rearranged the remainder for access in the order we remove it for Boomershoot:

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We have some hope

Dianne Feinstein made herself an enemy of gun owners for decades (see also here, here, here, here, here, and here). It has been clear she will never be voted out of office. She will only stop being a threat when she retires or dies. Now we have some hope it will happen relatively soon:

Feinstein — who at 84 is the oldest U.S. senator — also left politicos wondering whether she plans to run for reelection next year.

Although Feinstein was a motivator for me to create Boomershoot. So, I suppose she does have that going for her.

ATF on employee possessors of explosives

I also ran across this in the updated ATF bulletin, Safety and Security Information for Federal Explosives Licensees and Permittees:

Please Note: An employee possessor must be an employee of the licensee or permittee.  Volunteers are not employees.

I need to look into this some more to verify. It sounds as if the ATF doesn’t have a requirement for Boomershoot volunteer staff to do the paperwork to be an “Employee Possessor”.

That would be really nice.

ATF on binary explosives

I recently received an email from the ATF saying one of their bulletins, Safety and Security Information for Federal Explosives Licensees and Permittees, has been updated. Of particular interest was what they say about binary explosives (such as Tannerite):

ATF would like to remind those who manufacture, distribute, import, use, or store binary explosives of the vital importance of security safeguards for these materials. After a binary explosive is mixed, it is, by definition, an explosive and must be transported, used, and stored as an explosive. Whether the explosive materials are in the process of manufacture, in storage, or in use, we urge everyone to take all necessary measures to safeguard explosive materials and prevent them from falling into the hands of those who may use them in criminal or terrorist acts. We encourage all persons involved with binary explosives to report any suspicious behavior or unusual activity surrounding these materials to ATF and to local law enforcement authorities. Suspicious behavior may include a customer attempting to purchase large quantities of binary explosive materials while knowing little about the product. Unlike regulated explosives materials, ATF does not require persons to report the theft of precursor or binary explosive components. However, we request that everyone voluntarily report any theft or loss of these chemical explosive precursors to the local law enforcement authority and to the USBDC.


Note:
A Federal explosives license is required to manufacture (mix) binary explosives for sale, distribution, or your own business use. Also, users of binary explosives must comply with their state and local explosives regulations regarding binary explosives and their use.

Just common sense advice. We can help avoid attempts at oppressive regulation if we watch out for bad guys ourselves.

ATF inspection

My ATF license to manufacture high explosives must be renewed every three years. This was one of those years.

I had to take a day of vacation to meet them because they aren’t allowed to work on weekends.*

Barb and I drove to our motel in Pullman on Thursday night with Heidi (the new ATF “investigator”—it used to be “inspector”) scheduled to meet us at our hotel to do the paperwork side of things at 9:00 AM. She didn’t show up then and she didn’t contact me to let me know. I was a little annoyed and that probably showed in my tweets about it.

She showed up about 9:40 and said when she went to checkout of her motel that morning her government issued credit card wouldn’t work. She had to call “the government” to get things straightened out. Okay, that’s a pretty good excuse.

We went through the checklist of things that mostly didn’t apply to me and then lead her out through the back roads of Idaho to the Boomershoot site where she did about a 10 or 15 minute inspection, took pictures, and said everything looked good. She still needed to go through my records to make sure I had never put more than the maximum allowed 18,000 pounds of explosives in the magazine at one time. Considering that I don’t think we have made that much explosives in the last seven years and the magazine is full with about 2,000 pounds I’m pretty sure that her arithmetic is going to give me a passing grade with that. The only thing I didn’t get right was that I was supposed to send them a signed plot map even though it hasn’t changed in years and it’s on the Boomershoot website. I’ll print out a copy, sign it, scan it, and then email it to her and I will have three more years of being blessed by the ATF.

We also talked about our kids some, the farm land around us, what crops are grown there, the Indian Reservation, all about Boomershoot (she thought it sounded awesome), and how beautiful it is in this part of the country. So much better than Florida where it is so flat and even Spokane where she lives now.

One effect of the license renewal is that all the explosive handlers for Boomershoot have to send me new Employee Possessor forms for me to forward on to the ATF. Everyone that was ATF approved is now not approved (except Barb and I who have already taken care of it).

The bottom line is that it is all system go for Boomershoot 2018. Sign up here.


* While chatting with her doing the inspection I found out that Heidi rescheduled her day off from work to next week in response to my requested day to do the inspection. This allowed me do the inspection on the same weekend as Kim’s wedding and saved me nearly 700 miles of driving round-trip to Idaho on different weekends for the inspection and wedding. Thank you Heidi!

Wedding present

Guess what I gave Kim (daughter, and target production manager for Boomershoot) for her wedding present (she and Jacob are now married):

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Photo by Barb.

It’s not just any rifle:

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I put a new stock, hunting scope, sling, and a bipod on it, but it’s the same rifle Kim, Jaime, and I took to the Blanchard Blast in 1996 and 1997. The Blanchard Blast was our inspiration for Boomershoot.

I also gave her 150 rounds of 30.06 ammo which was loaded to .308 Winchester velocities. She wants to go hunting and didn’t have a rifle for that. Now she does. And it’s in the same caliber as Jacob’s hunting rifle.

Update: Here is a picture of them shortly after saying “I do.”

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The birds

Every few days I do a quick scan through all the images from the Boomershoot Live web cams. I’ve see quite a few deer (or the same deer many times) a coyote or two, a few birds (most notable this one), insects, etc. But the flock of birds that showed up a few days ago was unusual.

One minute there are none:

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The next minute there is a big flock which stays for a couple minutes:

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Then they are gone:

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Resistance is futile

I am in the process of renewing my ATF license to manufacture high explosives. For some reason I can’t find anywhere in the U.S. Constitution where the Federal government has been granted the power to regulate the manufacture and consumption of explosives entirely on my property, entirely within the state of Idaho.

So, in keeping with the current “resist” political theme of the last few months, I’m bravely sending the renewal form to the ATF with a “Freedom Forever” stamp.

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I suspect no one at the ATF will perceive the irony and my resistance will be futile.

Boomershoot venison

I’ve seen lots of deer on my land near the Boomershoot site but I don’t ever recall seeing any at the actual Boomershoot site. Near the Taj (I’ve seen moose there), yes.

I’ve looked at thousands of images from the webcams at Boomershoot and haven’t seen any deer here either, until day before yesterday. The day before yesterday, at about 11:00 AM, there was a deer off in the distance. Yesterday, at 10:39 AM, there were two much closer:

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It is odd to see deer out in the middle of the day. About the only time I ever see them is just before dark in the evening.

Soooo… As I continued to scan the images I came across another deer image in the late evening yesterday:

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They are rather small now but in a year or so they should make good Boomershoot venison.

Don’t do this at home

Via email from Sean who says

How Not To Do Boomershoot

Huffman’s first rule of recreational explosives:

Never put anything between you and explosives which a surgeon might be required to remove from your body.

Note that this guy didn’t move out of the way until after the debris hit the tree. This is typical. Even from very small charges, unless you are hundreds of yards away you won’t have time to move before impact.

Also from Sean is another example.

I still think this is cool

The images below are of the field near Boomershoot Mecca. In the first one you can see Mecca on the hill (the shipping container with trees around it).

I have probably seen this sort of thing a hundred times or more but I still think it is cool.
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Something about the water vapor rising from the field is unusual enough to fascinate me.

Boomershoot maintenance

Boomershoot prep and maintenance is essentially a year around job. Adding the weather station added to the maintenance part more than I expected. I did original power consumption calculations without the webcam. I purchased a cheap (but very low power consumption) webcam and it looked like the solar power system was marginal but should be good in the summer. At Boomershoot this year I swapped out the cheap webcam which was having problems for a better one which used more power. My spreadsheet said it should be okay during the summer but winter was going to be a problem.

Well… I was pushing the envelope too far and the system went down May 6th about 05:15. On May 7th my brothers helped diagnose the problem, gave the battery a little bit of a charge with jumper cables from their vehicle battery which got it back online about 16:51, and it ran until 18:35.

I purchased another solar panel and showed up onsite Saturday morning. I stopped at Boomershoot Mecca, picked up tools, and looked for a spare, very cheap, low power charge controller I purchased several years ago. I couldn’t find the charge controller and finally went over to the shooting line and the weather station.

I put the site on a temporary power supply and had it up about by about 11:15. I poked around with my meter and discovered the charge controller had power coming in from the solar panel but nothing was getting through to the battery. I concluded the charge controller was bad. I connected the solar panel directly to the battery, which was discharged down to 4.5 volts, and went looking for the charge controller again. It wasn’t at the Taj Mahal and I went back to Mecca and did a very deep search. I finally found it and went back to the weather station. The battery was up to about 10.4 V and I decided to try the existing charge controller again. This time it worked. It appears the charge controller runs on power from the battery. If the battery gets too low then it stops working and the battery will never get charged up even though there is plenty of solar power available. This seems to be a serious and easily fixed design flaw in the charge controller.

Installed the second solar panel and made sure everything was working as expected:

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I left the temporary power installed in the hopes the battery would get enough charge by morning that I could switch over to the permanent supply without it getting into another death spiral.

I then went back to Mecca, straightened things up, moved some things to the Taj Mahal which had been left at Mecca, and did an inventory of target materials so I know how much to purchase for next years event (sign up here!).

About 02:00 on Sunday the site went down again because the temporary supply ran out of power. I arrived onsite about 07:15, found the battery was about 11.5 volts and slowing rising. I still had some time available onsite and decided to start charging the temporary supply from the inverter in my vehicle and run the station from it while the solar panel continued to charge the battery. The cables were too short to connect while the vehicle was parked on level ground so I tried to get closer:

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I actually was a couple feet closer but slide sideways down the hill. The cables were just barely long enough. Another inch away and they would not have reached. But even after a couple minutes of charging my temporary power supply was still too low to run the Internet connection, weather station, and the webcam. I connected things to the permanent, solar powered, power supply, got it up and running about 07:25, and went about the other chores I had to do.

The original solar panel had a bunch of bird droppings so I cleaned it.

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I moved the yellow fiberglass stakes we used to mark the parking area to a spot less likely to get lost in the grass. Then I picked up a garbage sack full of milk jugs ripped apart by explosives in the attempted fireball:

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The webcam caught me doing various things

  • Moving the stakes:
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  • Cleaning the solar panel:
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  • Picking up milk jug pieces:
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Boomershoot mud

Boomershoot was muddy for staff this year. Last fall Barb and I restored the berm with a dozer and planted grass on all the bare dirt. The grass was looking pretty good, for new grass. As soon as we started walking in it, it turned to soup (photo by daughter Kim of her own shoes):

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The targets started out white but after a nearby detonation would become completely covered in mud. One participant called the targets, mounted on the top of 18 inch tall surveyors stakes, “Mud Lollipops”.

Photo by Kim:

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I’m going to have to replant the grass and hope it gets a better chance at survival next spring.

The parking area for participants was soft but not too hazardous. One unexperienced off road person got stuck with a two-wheel drive car but other than that I don’t know of anyone who has serious problems in that area.

At the end of the event when Barb and I were hauling stuff in the trailer back to the shed I was unable to get up a gradual hill:

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It was just too greasy. We carried everything going to the Taj the last 100 feet but still the load was just too much for my vehicle to pull up the hill on that grease. I had to unhook, connect with a chain from 90o, rotate the trailer, hook up directly, turn around, and clawed our way out the way we came. We had stuff in the trailer that needed to go to Boomershoot Mecca (our target production facility) so rather than go the short way through the field we went via the county road.

On the way to the county road we had to cross the field past the staff clean up crew. The field had standing water in it and was soft. Each previous time I had driven across it the Escape slowed and I knew we were at high risk of getting stuck. Getting enough momentum prior to hitting the soft spot was essential and I had to make a wide berth around the staff. When you are in danger of getting stuck you don’t want to be making turns, you want to go fast and straight. I didn’t have that option this time and I blasted past in a wide arc as fast as I dared. I made it past, through the standing water and out to the county road. On our next trip back to the clean up crew Barron approached me and said:

None of us in the group has ever seen someone drifting around a corner with a trailer before.

Hmm… I suppose that is uncommon. But these were uncommon times. After all, with all the mud on the trailer Barb and I used rakes to scrape it off:

 

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Update: Barron sent me a link to his video of me going through the swamp. This is not the instance I was talking about above. This was from a little later in the day:

Boomershoot 2018 registration

Registration for Boomershoot 2018 will be opening up for everyone on Sunday May 14 2017 at 9:00 AM PDT. Sign up here.

Boomershoot 2017 participants and staff will already have registered so jump on it to get the best remaining positions.

This is what Boomershoot 2017 participants created and saw after the opening horn to indicate commence fire:

Be a part of Boomershoot 2018.

Statistics for Boomershoot 2017

Boomershoot 2017 is over and I have some statistics to share from my entry statistics page (modified slightly to account for last minute changes):

  Total Average per position taken Average per total positions
Positions Taken 51 0.67
Participants 100 1.96 1.32
Friday Field Fire participants 16 0.31 0.21
Friday Clinic participants 4 0.08 0.05
Friday High Intensity participants 15 0.29 0.20
Personal Fireball participants 2 0.04 0.03
Saturday Field Fire participants 44 0.86 0.58
Saturday Clinic participants 16 0.31 0.21
Saturday High Intensity participants 26 0.51 0.34
Dinner participants 65 1.27 0.86
Sunday Shooters 85 1.67 1.12
Sunday Spotters 5 0.10 0.07
Media/Bloggers 7 0.14 0.09
ATF Approved 20 0.39 0.26
Staff 31 0.61 0.41

Long range shooters had 20 four inch and 187 seven inch square targets available between 600 and 700 yards. They also had 400 four inch and 154 seven inch targets at the tree-line (about 375 yards). At the end of the event there were only 11 intact targets left on the fields. This was the lowest number ever. This is attributed to low wind, good shooting, and no three inch targets.

For all events combined we consumed a total of about 1440 targets filled with nearly 1700 pounds of explosives.

It was a real blast.