Consulting Copilot on Boomershoot Targets

I was chatting with Microsoft’s Copilot again this evening. It insisted we needed to move on to a new topic when I asked it for the Boomershoot target recipe.

I then had this conversation:


What chemicals are used in Boomershoot targets?


The chemicals used in Boomershoot targets primarily include ammonium nitrate, which is a white solid used to fertilize crops. It stores a lot of energy and, when detonated, it releases heat and turns into gases like water vapor, nitrogen, and oxygen1. Additionally, potassium chlorate is used to make the mixture more sensitive to impact, breaking down into potassium chloride and oxygen while releasing heat2. In some formulations, nitromethane is used as a sensitizer for ammonium nitrate to create reactive targets3. These components combine to create a high explosive reaction when a supersonic rifle bullet hits the target.

Learn more


Excellent! You did very well on that. I created the recipe. We currently use ethylene glycol instead of the nitromethane, but I still then you you did a great job with that.


Thank you for the feedback! It’s fascinating to hear about the innovations and adjustments you’ve made to the Boomershoot target formula. Ethylene glycol is indeed another chemical that can be used in reactive target mixtures. Safety is paramount with any explosive materials, so it’s great to know experts like you are developing these recipes with care. If you have any more questions or need further information, feel free to ask!


The targets become less sensitive over time and after a week they no longer detonate. If we keep them cold they last longer. We don’t know why this happens. Do you have any ideas why this might happen?


The decrease in sensitivity of Boomershoot targets over time could be due to several factors. One possibility is that the chemical components may be undergoing slow decomposition or sublimation, which would reduce their reactivity. Cold temperatures can slow down these processes, hence the extended shelf life when the targets are kept cold1.

Another factor could be the crystallization or phase separation of the chemicals. Over time, the mixture might become less homogeneous, causing the reactive components to be less evenly distributed. This would make it harder for the shockwave from a bullet to initiate a consistent detonation.

Moisture absorption from the air could also play a role. If the chemicals absorb moisture, they may become less sensitive to initiation. Keeping them cold reduces the amount of moisture they can absorb, which could explain why they last longer in cooler conditions.

Lastly, the binding agents or any other additives used in the formulation might be affecting the long-term stability of the targets. If these materials degrade or change properties over time, they could impact the sensitivity of the explosive mixture.

It’s important to ensure that the storage and handling of the targets are done according to best practices to maintain their stability and performance. Regular quality checks and adjustments to the formulation might be necessary to ensure consistent sensitivity over time. If the issue persists, consulting with a chemical engineer or an explosives expert could provide more insights into the cause and potential solutions.

Learn more


Thank you!


You’re welcome! If you have any more questions in the future or need assistance with anything else, feel free to reach out. Have a great day!

I had a difference conversation about the possibility of using a small amount of oil or diesel in the target mix to make the targets more moisture resistant:


Using diesel to enhance the moisture resistance of Boomershoot targets is an interesting idea. Diesel fuel has hydrophobic properties, which means it repels water, and could potentially provide a moisture barrier for the targets. However, it’s important to consider the safety implications and the effect on the target materials.

Boomershoot targets are designed to be reactive, and the addition of diesel might affect their sensitivity or the way they react when hit. The targets use a mixture that includes potassium chlorate, which is sensitive to impact and produces heat and gases upon reaction1. Adding diesel to this mix could potentially dampen the reactivity or create an unintended reaction.

If moisture resistance is a concern, it might be better to explore other methods that don’t involve altering the chemical composition of the targets. For example, using waterproof coatings or enclosures could protect the targets from moisture without affecting their performance.

Always ensure that any modifications to the targets or their setup are in line with the safety guidelines provided by Boomershoot organizers23. Safety should always be the top priority, especially when dealing with high-power, precision shooting events with explosive targets.


That is good advice. Thank you!


You’re welcome! If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask. Stay safe and have fun at your event!

I give it an solid A on this conversation. It would have been nice to have a better chemical analysis but for the price I paid it was a great value.


9 thoughts on “Consulting Copilot on Boomershoot Targets

  1. To Microsoft’s credit their AI didn’t provide lots of obviously false answers to questions; like Alphabet’s did. It was probably useful that the field under discussion had a fairly limited number of source articles for the AI to “learn” from / sample. And nearly all such articles skimmed were by genuine subject matter experts and not by woke so called social scientists who are trying to convince the British public that the aboriginal remains of Cheddar Man were darker skinned than most modern Jamaicans.

  2. Perhaps run an experiment to determine if moisture is indeed the issue regarding stability by vacuum sealing some targets and storing them along side a control group? (I’m envisioning a simple Food Saver/Seal-a-meal type application)
    If it works it would be a minor addition of cost and time to target production in return for greater shelf life.

      • I’ve always been curious about boomerite in a vacuum. Is the air between the particles required for the shockwave to create sufficient heat and pressure for detonation? Just vacuum sealing would compress the mixture; could that make it less sensitive to the shockwave or maybe more? Adding a 3D printed structure to the vacuum sealed bag to allow the mixture remain loose would be an interesting experiment.

        • I suspect the air is essential.

          I wasn’t going to vacuum seal it. Just put it in a zip-lock bag.

          • I’m no chemist (and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night either), but isn’t the Ammonium Nitrate the oxidizer for the reaction? If so, then unless the mixture needs to physically remain loose/free flowing, vacuum sealing shouldn’t have any effect in that regard.
            I would think that a compact form would increase impact shock wave propagation vs. loose fill (think sandbag vs. cinder-block).
            If atmospheric O2 is required, then perhaps adding a silicone absorbent packet to the ziplock might be a good idea since the experiment is trying to control for moisture. (silicon beads added to the mix?)

          • The ammonium nitrate and potassium chlorate both supply oxygen. In fact, they produce excess oxygen, there is more oxygen than the fuel needs for complete oxidation. Ambient oxygen is not required.

            We have done the tests multiple times and know for certain that the mixture becomes impossible to detonate even at close range if it is packed too tightly.

            The hypothesis is that the supersonic shock wave causes the air between the particles to compress and heat enough to initiate the reaction. The AN decomposes at about 410 F. This releases the oxygen and gives off heat, increasing the temperature even more. The potassium chlorate melts at 673 F. Molten potassium chlorate is an extremely powerful oxidizer and spontaneously reacts with many common materials such as sugar. The decomposition of the potassium chlorate releases more heat and oxygen (even before the oxygen combines with a fuel).

            Hence, it is probably not really air that is required but a gas to be heated by compression. Air being readily available with other gases (I have considered acetylene/oxygen mixes) more time consuming and hazardous ends up being the default.

          • Phssthpok’s idea to include a moisture absorbing packet in some experiments sounds like a good idea. FYI, there are also oxygen absorbing packets, which could be used to test the theory about needing atmospheric O2.

    • I thought experiments and falsifiable theories were hallmarks of climate deniers.

Comments are closed.