Earth Day 2016

I just realized that Boomershoot 2016 will be at the same time as Earth Day 2016. Which, of course reminds me of something Michael Justice said while participating in Boomershoot 1999, “Celebrate Earth Day by blowing up a small part of it”. You too can participate, sign up here.

And while we are thinking about Earth Day here are some wonderful predictions made on Earth Day 1970:

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970

“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
• Sen. Gaylord Nelson

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

I have a prediction of my own about Earth Day 2016. The people who attend Boomershoot and blow up a small part of the earth in Idaho with us will have a great time.

Sean’s dream is coming true

Laser weapons are being tested right now and they are getting close to having them on military planes:

a number of other companies are also working on lasers that might be suitable for use on the AC-130. Lockheed Martin, the aircraft’s manufacturer, is developing a 60-kilowatt-class laser for the Army, for example, and Northrop has advertised its interest in developing airborne lasers as well. AFSOC has studies under way to determine the best solution.

And they are getting small enough to put on a small truck:

General Atomics has developed another version that fits in a box 12 feet long, 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall.

60 kW is a lot of punch. A six inch diameter magnifying glass collects about 15 W (1/4000th of the power of the laser) and quickly fries an ant.

And these are going to get smaller too. A 1 kW laser rifle would seem to be plausible and useful for some tasks.

I know it could make Sean’s dream come true.

Boomershoot 2015 versus 2016

Final Boomershoot 2015 statistics:

  Total Average per position taken Average per total positions
Positions Taken 52 0.68
Participants 118 2.27 1.55
Friday Field Fire participants 13 0.25 0.17
Friday Clinic participants 17 0.33 0.22
Friday High Intensity participants 23 0.44 0.30
Private Fireball participants 3 0.06 0.04
Saturday Field Fire participants 45 0.87 0.59
Saturday Clinic participants 18 0.35 0.24
Saturday High Intensity participants 19 0.37 0.25
Dinner participants 59 1.13 0.78
Shooters 110 2.12 1.45
Spotters 1 0.02 0.01
Media/Bloggers 8 0.15 0.11
ATF Approved 13 0.25 0.17
Staff 26 0.50 0.34

With nearly four months to go and only about 10 days worth of entries we have the following statistics for Boomershoot 2016:

  Total Average per position taken Average per total positions
Positions Taken 44 0.58
Participants 89 2.02 1.17
Friday Field Fire participants 11 0.25 0.14
Friday Clinic participants 3 0.07 0.04
Friday High Intensity participants 15 0.34 0.20
Private Fireball participants 1 0.02 0.01
Saturday Field Fire participants 40 0.91 0.53
Saturday Clinic participants 3 0.07 0.04
Saturday High Intensity participants 16 0.36 0.21
Dinner participants 37 0.84 0.49
Shooters 85 1.93 1.12
Spotters 2 0.05 0.03
Media/Bloggers 8 0.18 0.11
ATF Approved 10 0.23 0.13
Staff 18 0.41 0.24

I find it interesting that for 2016, even though we have 29 fewer overall participants so far, we have almost as many Saturday High Intensity participants. And that the Precision Rifle Clinic participation is so low (three on each day) for both Friday and Saturday. Yet the field fire participation is nearly that of 2015.

Boomershoot 2016 prep

First a quick reminder that entry for Boomershoot 2016 is now open for everyone now. Sign up here. There are almost half of the positions still available.

I made a Christmas Day pilgrimage to Boomershoot Mecca. The things I do for this event…

The county road was compact snow but that wasn’t a real problem. The road into Mecca was more problematic:


If I had really wanted to drive in I probably could have shoveled the berm away and made it in and probably back out again. But I had snowshoes with me and didn’t really want to risk getting stuck. My best option for getting help to get unstuck was brother Doug who was 40 miles away and wouldn’t be back until late. I went the snowshoe route.

Even though it was very cloudy and snowing it was pretty:


I installed the last coat rack, warmed my toes, dug the foam insulation out from around the 2500 watt inverter, tidied up, and did an inventory of supplies.

The temperature inside when I arrived was 32F. After an hour or so the 1500 Watt heater warmed it up to 39F. It was pretty nice in there.





Boomershoot 2016 registration

We have another fantastic Boomershoot event planned for 2016. The long range event will be Sunday April 24th with the Precision Rifle Clinic and High Intensity events on Friday and Saturday the 22nd and 23rd.

Boomershoot 2016 registration will be open on the following dates and times:

  • Registration opens for staff 12/20/2015 5:00:00 PM Pacific Time.
  • Registration opens for 2015 participants 12/22/2015 5:00:00 PM Pacific Time.
  • Registration opens for everyone 12/26/2015 9:00:00 AM.

Registration is only online. You sign up here. You should sign up as soon as you can to have a better chance of getting the shooting position you want.

Boomershoot to remember Scott Keszler

At Boomershoot 2016 Janelle is going to do a slide show for Scott Keszler who has been a big part of Boomershoot for many years and passed away just before Thanksgiving.

Janelle says:

If you have pictures, stories, or quotes regarding Scott, please email them to me with Scott’s name in the subject line so I can add them to the slide show.

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 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.