Ammonium nitrate supplier

As I reported a few months ago Amazon was selling ammonium nitrate. I ordered some and last weekend I finally got around to testing it in reactive targets. I didn’t do any low velocity tests but it worked fine from 30 yards away with .223 ammunition.

What is a little more interesting is the sheet of paper I found in the box:AmmoniumNitrateForSale

I don’t know what the “new regulations” or if they have gone into effect or not. But Amazon is still selling AN at a price people wanting to make their own reactive targets can afford. And if Amazon stops selling it there is still Ammonium Nitrate For Sale which also has exploding target mix.

Quote of the day—Tracie

Did I get it?

November 26, 2016
This was after her first shot with a rifle. Which was at two pounds of explosives from 30 yards away.

[I’ve blogged about Tracie and Kurt before (see also here). A few months ago they were new shooters. Now they are shooting boomers. In the dark.

My answer to Tracie was, “I think so. Do you want to try again?”—Joe]

A short gun story

I received the following via email from Bruce L.:

A wild eyed 69 year old woman  walked into a crowded bar in downtown Washington, District of Columbia, waving an un-holstered pistol and yelled out, “I have a .45 caliber Colt 1911, with a seven round magazine, plus one in the chamber.

I want to know who’s been sleeping with my husband?”

A female voice from the back of the room called out, “You need more ammo Hillary!”

Obviously, it’s fiction. Hillary doesn’t know that much about guns.

Quote of the day—Beth Alcazar

He does not simply teach them to assume all firearms are loaded or to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Instead, he tells his students, “Assume the bullet is traveling down the barrel right now.”

Beth Alcazar
November 15, 2016
Treat Every Firearm as Though It’s Loaded…and a Bullet is Traveling Down the Barrel
[Via email from Paul Koning who said, “I thought the headline — and the explanation — makes an interesting point.”—Joe]

Steel match results

Yesterday I attended the steel challenge match at the Renton Fish & Game Club.

Here are pictures of the stages (and, it was raining, the mud):


Aim Small, Miss Small


In And Out

I was surprised to see a Hillary 2016 sticker on one of the vehicles at the range but less surprised after I got a little closer:


I came in second with rimfire pistol with iron sights (RFPI):

Final Name USPSA Class Division Time Stage 1 – Decelerator Stage 2 – Aim Small, Miss Small Stage 3 – Pendulum Stage 4 – In And Out
1 Paczosa, Connor U RFPI 49.68 12.88 12.11 13.17 11.52
2 Huffman, Joe U RFPI 67.65 15.20 14.82 19.92 17.71
3 Paczosa, Dan U RFPI 68.61 13.95 12.67 22.01 19.98
4 Komatsu, Jeff U RFPI 70.18 13.90 16.19 21.55 18.54
5 Mortell, Jeff U RFPI 77.37 16.01 17.55 22.26 21.55
6 Meboe, Isabelle U RFPI 89.40 20.40 23.03 25.43 20.54
7 Gile, Conner U RFPI 109.40 22.28 25.63 30.76 30.73
8 Meisner, Matthew U RFPI 118.42 23.18 27.86 29.37 38.01
9 Cox, Dan U RFPI 140.14 53.99 25.32 29.15 31.68
10 Blaylock, Chris U RFPI 146.01 53.83 23.64 39.38 29.16

In iron sighted pistol (ISP) I managed first place:

Final Name USPSA Class Division Time Stage 1 – Decelerator Stage 2 – Aim Small, Miss Small Stage 3 – Pendulum Stage 4 – In And Out
1 Huffman, Joe U ISP 86.65 18.91 19.81 24.38 23.55
2 Webb, Ron U ISP 93.86 20.12 21.98 28.06 23.70
3 Ellman, J.J. U ISP 159.09 27.50 46.51 49.75 35.33
4 (DQ) Dyment, Jim U ISP

My guns ran perfect.

My average time per hit with RFPI was 0.846 seconds and with ISP 1.083 seconds. This compares to the 0.6783 seconds and 0.8440 seconds at the match last month at Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club. The stages were much harder. Many of the targets were small and fairly distant compared to what we see at Holmes Harbor. This was reflected in the scores of others who frequently shoot at Holmes Harbor as well. For example Steve Mooney in the RFRO division (winner of the division) averaged 0.533 seconds per hit this month compared to 0.4728 last month. In OPN division Jeff Kanter averaged 1.239 seconds per hit this month compared to 0.9911 last month. So, Steve took 1.127 times as long, Jeff took 1.250 times as long, and I took 1.247 times as long with rimfire and 1.283 times as long with centerfire. So I’m pretty sure it was mostly stage design differences which account for the increased times.

On my wish list

A couple of days ago Annette posted about a shooting mat that is going on my wish list. I used to have one I really liked which was similar. But someone, who shall remain nameless, left it at on the shooting berm at Boomershoot one fall and it ended up spending the winter there. I cleaned it up as best I could but the fabric was damaged by all the exposure to sun, water, ice, insects, rodents, and growing grass. I looked and looked for another like it but couldn’t find one. I think the company went out of business. I finally bought another and I just don’t like it nearly as well.

Annette spends a LOT more time on the ground shooting a rifle than I ever have and as well as her calling out the features that I had looked for in a shooting mat I trust her judgment. She isn’t the only real shooter that recommends this mat.

Annette further informs us that if you use the discount code 30CalGal you will receive 15% off.

Maybe some of those people who want to give me a Christmas gift could pool their money and I would have a new shooting mat for next spring.


Remember new shooters Kurt and Tracie?

Yesterday they went to the range with Barb and me. They haven’t purchased a gun yet but they have been looking and test fired two guns they rented at the range. Kurt has applied for his concealed pistol license and Tracie was asking good questions about shooting in self defense.

They went through 500 rounds of .22 LR, 100 rounds of 9mm, and about 20 rounds of low powered .40 S&W.

This is how we win the culture war.

Rounds in the last month

Lifetime reloaded ammunition totals:

223.log: 2,424 rounds.
3006.log: 543 rounds.
300WIN.log: 1,351 rounds.
40SW.log: 55,647 rounds.
45.log: 0 rounds.
9MM.log: 21,695 rounds.
Total: 81,660 rounds.

I reached my goal of 80,000 lifetime reloads in this calendar year.

In October I reloaded 257 rounds of .223, and 1700 rounds of .40 S&W for a total of 1957 rounds. I didn’t get around to the 30.06 ammo like I had planned as that project had a lower priority than generating more .40 S&W for USPSA matches. When I got caught up on USPSA match ammo I decided to continue cranking out .40 S&W for practice at indoor ranges. It doesn’t reduce the tonnage of powder on my shelf as quickly but it does rapidly reduce the tonnage of bullets in the corner. I turned nearly 44 pounds of .40 caliber bullets into completed ammunition this month.

Steel match results

Last Saturday I took the ferry to Whidbey Island to participate in the Speed Steel match at the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club. Jeff wasn’t where I expected to find him on the ferry but I took a picture anyway:


The stages were good. As usual they were somewhat different and interesting to shoot:

On the stage above the bottom targets were removed from both dueling trees before the match started so there were only five targets on each. You just had to hit all five plates in any order. No stop plate. The yellow was for rimfire and the white were for centerfire guns. The targets were close but because of their size they were deceptively difficult to hit. It felt like you should be able to go really fast, but feelings are not reality.

Hmm… With rimfire the start position is aiming at the yellow rock beneath the plates in the center. So how do you best shoot it? Straight up to the two white plates, the big plates in the back of the bay, then back to the stop plate? Or as I would with shooting from the holster going for the corner plates then the center plates?

I shot the center plates first. Jeff did the corner plates first. I think my way was better but I’m not certain.


The far right target was painted yellow to be the stop plate before the match started.


This was a fast one. See Steve do it under 1.75 seconds:


The rectangular plate in the right corner of the bay was painted yellow as the stop plate before the match started.

Here are the results:

October 22, 2016 Speed Steel Match Results
Name Division Time
Steve Mooney RF-RI-O 47.28
Jeff Kanter RF-RI-O 50.76
Jeff Kanter RF-RI-O 52.74
Brian Lawson RF-RV-O 59.07
Joe Huffman RF-I 67.83
Jim Dunlap RF-RI-O 71.18
Dan Lavaty RF-O 71.78
Jim Dunlap RF-O 80.02
Joe Huffman CF-I 84.40
Alex Bigby CF-I 90.67
Thomas Alldredge CF-I 97.71
Scott Bertino RF-I 97.90
Jeff Kanter CF-O 99.11
MAC RF-RV-I 106.42
Jeff Sparks CF-I 114.51
Scott Bertino CF-RV-I 120.35
Dan Lavaty CF-I 126.79
MAC CF-RV-I 126.88
Alex Bigby Strong 127.78
Thomas Alldredge Strong 127.79
Don S. CF-LR 173.96

My guns ran perfect.

My average time per hit with RF-I was 0.6783 seconds and with CF-I was 0.8440 seconds. At the last match I shot here my average time per hit with RF-I was 0.6066 seconds and with CF-I it was 0.8152. Comparing other people’s times between this month and last month they generally increased some too so the increase in my time is probably attributable to the stage designs rather than a decrease in skill.

Ace of Spades handgun postal match

Jim, Sunk New Dawn, Galveston, TX suggested I participate in the Ace of Spades “easy, fun handgun Postal Match”. I’m not sure where the postal part comes in but I participated.

I made a video of the shooting. But it was indoors and my video glasses have dark lenses. I couldn’t see the X-ring without an orange dot on the target.

Here is my entry (click for a larger view):


And zooming in:


I used my Ruger 22/45 Target Model pistol which helped at the beginning. Near the end (I also fired 170 rounds in practice) the muscles around my shoulders got tired. They started getting numb and I was shaking. I think the flyers in the image above were probably from the last magazine.


I used Federal, American Eagle, 38 grain copper coated hollow point ammo.

Here is the video to show that I fired all 50 rounds at the required range in the required time (30 minutes max, I used less than four):

Smokeless powder basics

Widener’s has a web page and video Guide to Smokeless Powder (via email from Anne Taylor at Widener’s where I buy some of my reloading supplies). The basics are explained at a superficial but useful level:

Smokeless powder may be the most important component for any shooter who is reloading ammo and it’s probably the most complicated as well. With different characteristics and a ton of variables, gunpowder needs to be fully understood before you attempt to reload ammunition.

This guide will take you through the basics of reloading powder, show how all smokeless powder is not the same and demonstrate how the different characteristics of powder can make your reloads more effective depending upon your intended purpose.

I liked the video in particular (but check out the web page as well) because I have had people insist smokeless powder in open air will go up in a flash from a spark. My experience attempting to use it for recreational purposes in such a fashion was quite disappointing. This video is consistent with my experience. It’s tough to even ignite smokeless powder and, in open air, it burns slowly.

Me? Obsessive?

300 rounds of .40 S&W after I ran them through the case gauge:


I’m probably not quite as obsessive as you might think from the layout of the rounds on my desk.

I use a case gauge that holds 20 rounds:


This speeds up the gauge testing and allows me to count the rounds easily by organizing them into groups of 20 before I put them loose into an ammo can.

Action Shooting International match

I first noticed the existence of Action Shooting International matches several months ago. What is this? I was perplexed. How does this differ from USPSA and/or IDPA matches?

Last Saturday, October 8th, the stars aligned sufficiently that I was willing to go to a match at Renton Fish & Game Club and find out.

The stages are far more simple than most USPSA stages. And the scoring is time based like IDPA. And there are far fewer rules you have to keep in mind as you are shooting than IDPA. It’s intended for beginners, or as one guy quipped after the match, “It’s for shooters who have aged out of USPSA.”

Here is their elevator pitch from the home page:

Do you keep a handgun around for fun?

Here at Action Shooting International, LLC, we’re focused on giving you a chance to practice in a way that’s fun, and builds social connections with other gun owners.

We’ve put together a series of simple courses oriented on the practical use of handguns — along with a scoring system that promotes a relaxed, friendly attitude (like a bowling league). ASI shoots are competitions, but we’re more concerned about having fun and learning something along the way than fighting for every point.

From the rules we have their goals and principles.


  1. Maintain safety and safety awareness to the greatest extent possible.
  2. Provide a welcoming social experience where everyone can learn and have fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself at an ASI match, you’re not doing it right!
  3. Provide shooters with courses of fire that: – derive from practical themes – test accuracy at speed while developing dynamic gun handling skills
  4. Emphasize the local recreational shooter. A “win at all costs” mentality is not welcome.
  5. Emphasize gun handling, not athleticism.
  6. Provide thought-provoking shooting experiences, training opportunities, and demonstrations of interest to the ASI community – particularly at regional and national events.
  7. Provide shooting clubs with a turn-key program.


Participants at our matches shall:

  1. Explore the skills of “gun handling,” not tactics
  2. Treat caliber and magazine capacity as irrelevant
  3. Seek and use concealment
  4. Accept that as a practical matter, certain limits must be placed on equipment and conduct for reasons of safety, scoring, competitive equity, and the like.

It took me a few stages to get used to the importance of excellence in accuracy on a paper target where you can’t really see the scoring rings most of the time. I could see my shots were not as accurate as needed and at first I put as many as four shots on a targets instead of the required two. I had to slow down some and get my shots to count the first time.

I was able to use my STI DVC Limited gun without complaints by the match director. The stages were short enough or mandated a magazine change between the first and last shot that negated the benefits of 18 round magazines. And no stage required more than two 7-round magazines if you didn’t miss your target much.

Holsters are not required. You start from the low ready or with your gun on a table or on one stage inside a “briefcase”.

Here are the stages we shot:







I forgot to turn on my video glasses for one stage. Ignore my excessive shots as I try to get two good shots on each target on the first stage.

I did okay. The “main event” was four stages. I came in 8th out of 31 shooters. There were two “Bonus Stages” and I came in second out of 30 shooters in those. I was finally getting the balance of speed and accuracy required for this type of match.