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.


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:


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:


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.

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:


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:


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.


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:


The webcam caught me doing various things

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

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):


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:


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:


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:




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.

Overheard at Boomershoot 2017

Boomershoot was very well received this year even if the fireball was a failure (it didn’t ignite).

Some were via email and text message, but still…

At the Saturday dinner:

That was the best speech I have heard at Boomershoot in the last ten years.

At High Intensity:

This was the most fun I have ever had with my AR.

At the Long Range event:

I usually get about four or five boomers. This year I lost count.

Via email:

Joe as usual, We totally enjoyed Boomer Shoot 17.

Thank you and your crew AND family for hosting and putting on such an unusual and fun event.

The location is absolutely wonderful.

I totally enjoy the challenges of the venue.

It s great to meet new shooters and running into old friends.

I’m glad you feel appreciation for being Mr Boomershoot, because, as you mentioned, this event impacts more than just the attendees.  Best Western and High Mountain Resort are both outstanding.  The small town atmosphere is a treat when you are coming from Seattle.

Again thank you so very much for the wonderful amazing shooting opportunity.

PS… Oh yeah.  I’ll be there next year. clip_image001

Via email:

Thank you for yet another FANTASTIC event.

Whatever you did with the formula, this year, *KEEP DOING IT!!!*.  I have NEVER, in my 13 (nonconsecutive) years seen fewer targets for the cleanup crew.

Your stated goal for Boomershoot seems to be bearing fruit: the level of marksmanship this year was outstanding, which directly relates to the lack of cleanup targets mentioned above.

Via text message:

I think I figured out the draw for men of big explosives: closest thing to a female orgasm they’ll ever feel! Smile

More success

Boomershoot 2017 is complete. It was all wrapped up earlier than ever before due to a number of issues. I’ll get into them in a later post but the bottom line is it went well even though it was extremely muddy.

One of the last things Barb and I did before heading down the hill to the motel was to take down the webcam at the road pointing at the shooting area. When we parked Barb suggested we scrape some of the mud off the trailer with the rakes we use for cleaning up target debris. We giggled as we did this after Barb pointed out it was rather amusing to be scraping mud off with a rake. I then wanted to get a last webcam photo with us in a Norman Rockwell pose, as she pretending to do in the first web came image.

We got it:



Last night, after getting someone’s (who shall remain nameless) car unstuck Barb and I hooked up another webcam at Boomershoot. See the results here.

I asked her to stand with me for a couple minutes to see if we could be the first picture it took.

I just (11:51 PM the next night) got caught with things enough to look at the results.

I was successful!


Quote of the day—Barb L.

We just love NOT pounding stakes in the rain.


Barb L.
April 20, 2017
[It’s Boomershoot time!

To fully appreciate this quote you need to read this QOTD and see the picture from a year ago and compare to this year.

It was raining hard Thursday morning but the forecast was for the rain to taper off in the afternoon. So, I told the staff to delay the schedule by four hours. Barb and I were still running around preparing but we didn’t spend too much time outside. At least nothing like we would have if we had been setting up the shooting line or pounding target stakes into the hillside. So, Barb was very appreciative of not pounding stake when it was raining hard and there were gusts of wind up to 28 MPH.

Friday and Saturday are supposed to be much drier and warmer.—Joe]

Long range rifle for sale

Via email from Dave Bakken who says he will bring the rifle to Boomershoot this year if there is someone interested in purchasing it.

Details on the equipment here. Synopsis:

Q: What happens when a professor in a technical area decides to get into long-range shooting?

A: He ends up with the gear described in this document, after a huge amount of research and trial and error.


Q: What happens when he is getting divorced later (after not having time to shoot the rifle for 2+ years)?

A: He sells it. This saves those who hope to get into long-range shooting a HUGE amount of time. Especially if you do not presently have time to learn and master handloading…


OK, so nowadays Dave is selling his rifle and setup. In doing so, anyone who wants to get into long-distance shooting can buy this and save a HUGE amount of time in researching options.

Here is what he is selling:


List ($)

Rifle Setup




Supporting Gear


Gear in the Toolbox





Asking Price: $3500.

Preparing for Boomershoot

If you are attending Boomershoot this year please prepare for variable weather. It’s only a week away and it was snowing today:


Earlier it was foggy:


There was also some sun at times:


The forecast for next week and during Boomershoot is mixed as well. It’s supposed to be a little warmer and drier than today but don’t count on it. Forecasts more than a couple days ahead tend to be unreliable.

On the bright side, for those people who want practice with “real world” shooting conditions, for several hours today we had sustained winds in the 10 to 20 MPH range with gusts up to 30 MPH.

What is this?

I was looking at the Boomershoot webcam image for this evening and saw things I have no idea what they are.


What are those lines? The images just one minute before and after don’t have them. There are several images with strange lines in them:



The camera is in IR mode with an IR illuminator.So that changes things some. I thought maybe it was snow or hail or even raindrops being blown by a strong wind. But the wind never even gusted over 7.6 MPH in that time frame. And I would expect there would similar lines in adjacent frame (admittedly one minute apart). But there aren’t. But the wind was coming from about the correct direction for each of the lines to be following the wind. The temperature ranged from about 48 F to 49 F. Insects are going to be a bit sluggish at that temperature.

There was one similar event on the previous night:


Any ideas?

Update: Rain. Shortly after seeing many images similar to the one below the weather station reported a small amount (0.01 inches) of precipitation.


Boomershoot Live!

Among many other things I did over the weekend I got the weather station and webcam working at the Boomershoot shooting line. I created a web page for it so people can check out the conditions as Boomershoot 2017 approaches. I call the webpage Boomershoot Live! It will also allow people who are not attending to get a once a minute snapshot of the target area and weather.

Here how things looked yesterday morning when I was getting the T-Mobile microcell working:


Here is this morning:


Yeah. The weather at Boomershoot is variable.

The weather station uploads data to Weather Underground about four times a minute. They kept track of the weather history as well as make forecasts.

It’s too far away to make a believable forecast for Boomershoot (April 21, 22, 23) but in another week they will start being plausible.

Update: The webcam dropped offline at 3:00 PM PDT April 10th. I don’t know why. I’m over 300 miles away and won’t be able to check on it until April 20th.

Update 2: The webcam started working again at 6:07 PM PDT April April 10th. This was with a few minutes of when I told Barb I would probably buy a newer and better one and take it with us when we went to Boomershoot. Not that this had anything to do with it starting to work, but I thought it was amusing.