Boomershoot 2019—Sunday

Staff started arriving at 7:00 AM to mount the reactive targets on the wood stakes we had driven into the ground Thursday and last night. By 8:30 we had completed that job and the opening fireball target, designed by Barron Barnett, was complete by 9:30.


There are a dozen pieces of 10 foot long rebar stuck in the ground around the target. On each piece of rebar are two road flares. The flare are to ignite the gasoline. The placement of the rebar was determined from viewing the video of previous fireballs. We have learned that placement is critical to getting good ignition of the gasoline.

The opening fireball target was detonated by 9:57:

Notice the last frame of the video. The sand platform was only reduced to about the same level as the surrounding ground. It worked wonderfully, resulting in almost no crater.

I think we have this fireball creation dialed in. There was no question about ignition of this fireball. We is suspect the good ignition was the reason it was the hottest, by far, of any fireball we have ever produced. Notice the photographer leaving the area as the fireball climbs into the air? His left arm received a minor burn from the radiant heat.

It was wonderful weather for the long range shooting. With almost no wind, hundreds of targets disappeared in minutes. The rate of target detonation approached that of a high intensity event.


One experienced Boomershooter told me he got six boomers with eight shots, all of which were over 650 yards away. The entire upper area of the hill was emptied of boomers within just a few minutes.

People loved all the steel. The big USPSA silhouette targets range like bells. You could easily hear the most distant one even though it was 700 yards away. One Boomershooter told me, “It sounds like I’m at church!” Yup, this is The Church of Guns and Explosives.

Without any wind the targets were so easy to hit that of the nearly 700 hundred targets available only 15 were still undetonated by lunch time. The only target we found that definitely had a sold hit without detonation was hit by a .22 caliber bullet at about 650 yards. It’s just too much to expect for the .223 cartridge to deliver the velocity required at that range.

With the near perfect detonations and the good wind we learned a new lesson. Watch the weather forecast and adjust the number of targets accordingly. We needed far more targets for a day like today.

We let the participants shoot at the steel another hour after lunch before we packed things up and everyone went home. Barb and I were headed down the hill to Orofino by 5:00 PM.

It was an awesome Boomershoot.

Update: More fireball videos.


15 thoughts on “Boomershoot 2019—Sunday

  1. Great weekend of shooting. So strange to see dust flying instead of mud. Thank Barb for arranging the weather. 🙂

  2. Congrats on a successful event! With I were there. I am honored to earn a QOTD!

    My biggest problem is there is no direct road between AZ and ID. IIRC my good friend Kevin Baker has reported ~25 hr drives inbound. (Via I-10 to LA, I-5 North, Hang a right at Seattle)

    I think we can fly it in the little plane in about 6 hours. Still a day with a fuel stop.

    We’ll have next year on the calendar! And especially the Friday long range clinic!

    • There’s no direct road from eastern Maryland either! I’d kill for a 25 hour drive to Orofino. My trips to Boomershoot have taken me 45 to 50 hours on the road on average.

      You are right with the north-south route. Last year I had to come up through Boise due to a snowstorm in the midwest that close the Interstate in two states. I learned there is no north-south Interstate that connects southern Idaho with northwestern Idaho. So it was a beautiful mountain drive with no cell service for several hours until I got close to Idaho Route 12 on the opposite side of the Lolo National Forest (another “leave civilization” drive to Missoula).

      Next year is on my calendar. The two weeks on the road is significant enough in cost that I really can’t do it annually. I didn’t expect to be able to do it twice. Going to get to do it a third time and possibly a fourth in ’22 if Joe wants to keep putting it on!

      My goal is to try to be the one from furthest away. I took the title in ’16. The 2018 title I got beat by a pair of Canadians from Halifax. Who happened to sit at my table for the dinner! So we enjoyed comparing notes with my best friend and I, who are also Canadian. We had quite the Canadian representation that year although I am a dual citizen.

      Had the pleasure of meeting Kevin in ’16 after many years of reading his stuff. Glad to see he is doing better.

      Looking to get position 56 again next year. Hope to see you there!

    • There are people (Brian and gang) who drive from Arizona almost every year. Next year Barron, Janelle, and the kids are driving from Arizona as well.

  3. Oh what a problem to have: we needed more targets, ‘cuz theys all git blowed up.

    If that was the root cause of the day’s imperfection, then you’ll have such a hard time replicating it. But do try next year, because I want in on that.

  4. Make more 3″ targets for the good shooters.
    And encourage people to only shoot one 7″ target at the berm before moving on to more challenging ones, and kill several of those before taking another 7-incher, so the more average shooters have a better chance.

  5. You’re going to need to record *two* fireball videos: a second one from further away so the fireball and smoke cloud can be followed into the sky for a bit…

    • I usually set up my video camera on a tripod but I forgot to bring it. It was so hot that I lost interest in making a good handheld video. I’m compiling videos from other people and will get something better up soon.

      We actually want video from four or more directions (it doesn’t exist). The ignition details are important to us.

      • I’ll start editing videos tonight. I’ll either send you an email or post a link in comments. I’m not optimistic my high intensity footage is very good, but the fireball and main event should be decent.

  6. Got a big smile from the minion. I may not be the best spotter, but offspring #2 managed to hit steel at 700 yards with the 223. He only tagged one boomer at the berm – the easier ones went to fast for him, in part because we didn’t shoot during field fire the day before to get totally dialed in and nailed down, but he also nailed a few during high intensity.

    Overall, a great time, especially missing the deer in the road on the way there, and the elk in the pass on the way back.

    • I’ve been wanting to shoot at 700 yard targets with a .223 for years. I just never seem to have the time when I’m over there. I’m getting closer to that though. I have a special load that I think will work well. I just have to have time, good weather when I’m there, and then set up a target.

      • I’ll bring my purpose-built single shot AR-15 and give it a go next year during Field Fire. I think the Berger 90gr VLDs I built the rifle around will have the reach and legs to do it. It’s equipped to do 600 yard work and I think it can reach further. There might be enough energy left as it would still be carrying 1500fps/480ft/lbs at 750 yards if Applied Ballistics is correct.

Comments are closed.