Boomershoot 2013

By most accounts Boomershoot 2013 was good. Two people even came up to me afterward and told me, “This was the best one ever.”

From and staff/organizational standpoint that was certainly true. Everything occurred on time or perhaps only a few minutes late. The targets were produced in record time. The targets were deployed in record time. The clean up on Sunday night was completed in record time. The Saturday dinner and raffle went exceptionally smooth as well.

I give credit to all the staff who showed up early or on time, knew what to do, and worked long hours.

There were some disappointments from the participant side.

The targets for the high intensity events had a very low detonation rate. My guess is that fewer than half detonated. The air should have been filled with so much water vapor that people would have difficulty seeing the targets.


The detonation rate for the main event was better but still below what we have come to expect.

The low detonation rate was at least 90% responsible for the disappointing fireball this year.

We have more tests to do but the best hypothesis so far is that the heat guns used to do the shrink wrapping of the targets overheated the ethylene glycol in the Boomerite and evaporated a significant portion of it. Our tests were done in the winter and a lot of our target production was done when it was very warm in the shipping container.

The weather wasn’t bad. It could have been better though. On Sunday the winds were high enough that some people reported 10+ feet of windage was required for .223 calibers at the tree line 380 yards away. It’s crazy to expect to get hits on a 4” square target when you put on that much windage.


On the good side, at noon we moved about 150 or 200 7” targets from the distant hillside to the tree line. The original targets at the tree line were 3” and 4” square. The addition of 7” square targets was very popular with the shooters and there was a great deal of excitement as the targets detonated in rapid succession. The difference between hitting 2 MOA and 1 MOA targets is huge.


As usual there were interesting people and equipment at Boomershoot:






Most of the staff left about 5:45 PM. Daughter Kim and Jacob left sometime after 6:00 PM. I puttered around Mecca putting things away, taking down the tent, and packing stuff into my vehicle for the return trip to the Seattle area the next day. I left via the tree line at the Boomershoot site and spread the remaining coals from the trash fires to cool. I left at almost exactly 8:00 PM. It was still light out which was a first. There have been times, like last year, when I did not leave until after 11:00 PM.


Boomershoot 2013 final prep

I arrived at the Boomershoot site Saturday April 20th. This was almost a week before the event started.

I was coming from the Seattle area and drove via Colfax, Lewiston, and Kendrick. I was pleased to see the hills were greening up and took a few pictures. This one was as I was a few miles out from Kendrick:


What I didn’t tell anyone except my brothers, who helped me load the flooring material on the top of my vehicle, was that I was going to put down a new floor at Boomershoot Mecca before anyone else arrived. Here I have the rolls on top of the Escape just after I arrived on site:


I actually gave some clues to the staff that something was up in this post.

I had great fun seeing the surprise on people’s face when they noticed the new awesome floor. And even more fun when Barb L. didn’t notice. This was even though on our previous visit to Mecca just three weeks earlier we had talked a great deal about doing something different with the floor. We had just about settled on tile. But with all the stuff in the shipping container it was going to “have” to wait until after Boomershoot this year. I found some roll flooring that I was able to install, by myself, in about one day’s worth of work.

Barb had spent many minutes inside Mecca and I even asked her if she saw anything different. She couldn’t figure it out. I finally asked her about the floor and she went a little crazy about it (“I could totally get my freak on about it! I could mop it!”). She really likes to have clean floors and with the previous floor it just wasn’t practical.

After my tent blew down the hill in the Sunday evening windstorm I put a 50 pound bag of ammonium nitrate on each end of the tent to keep it a little more “grounded” for the rest of my stay:


Wednesday I almost always have to myself but at about noon both Scott and Antitango reported they were about to arrive. Scott, as always, arrived first and I had him do some more work preparing a parking area near Mecca for the staff.

I ended up not getting some of the things I had planned on doing done. But we got 500 hillside stakes in the ground Wednesday afternoon! We also had the shooting position stakes and signs laid out and ready for Thursday morning.

Thursday morning Barb and Max L. were there along with Antitango and his gang.

The rubber bands were put on the hillside stakes (or did we get that done Wednesday? I’m not sure.) The fiberglass stakes for the caution tape to keep people from parking in the shooting area were put in place, the shooting positions marked, and the garbage cans distributed by about 10:00 AM.

We were WAY ahead of schedule so we did a quick initial run of targets and learned some lessons. My biggest lesson was to not let the staff run off and try it by themselves. I was getting the Wi-Fi and AT&T microcell up while the staff went off to make a few targets.

Barb L. came back looking for me and said, with a very concerned look on her face, “We need you.” I arrived back at Mecca to the sound of multiple alarms screaming, the air filters off or on the lowest settings, the air filled with dust, and people doing things differently from what I had planned. The alarms were low voltage alarms because they were trying to run everything on the batteries. Batteries that I had already determined were nearly dead. I turned off the lights which was enough load drop to get the alarms silenced, turned all the air filters on high, and started up the generator. I then went inside to talk about my vision of production versus what was actually happening.

My plan also had some problems and after a short run we shut down the line, cleaned up, and went to Orofino for lunch and the Utah CCW class put on by Antitango.

The next morning I rearranged things to correct for the problems discovered the day before. This is what the interior of Mecca looked like on Friday morning before we started target production “for real”:


And here is the production line in action about 11:30 AM:


And at about 10:30 Saturday morning:


The guy with the smile is Rolf—just so you know what you are dealing with when you read his posts here.

Notice that most of the crates and cardboard boxes are gone. We produced about 1600 targets in less than two days.

We had a lot of staff producing targets. So many that I didn’t have jobs for everyone. This was actually a good thing because part of the time it was very hot in the container and people needed to get out to cool off. We had the staff to swap out and rest while keeping the line up and running.

Here is a picture of the parking area at Mecca Saturday morning:


Which of the vehicles is not like the others?

Out of band from the target production at Mecca was Ry and Ben (with a little enabling help from me) working on the fireball target at the shooting line. This should give you a clue about the effort involved:


Sunday morning I was on site by about 5:30 to prepare for the rest of the staff that I asked to arrive at 7:00. Here is a picture of the shooting line I took at about 6:30:


The targets were all mounted on the stakes nearly an hour earlier than scheduled thanks to lots of staff and a different target delivery plan. And this included putting in the tree-line stakes Sunday morning instead of Saturday evening as planned.

Ry and Ben assembled the fireball target as the rest of us put the 1000 targets on stakes on the hillside and at the tree-line.

Here is the completed fireball target:

Side view.

Front view.

Front view with flares visible.

Maybe by this weekend I’ll write up my thoughts on the event itself.

The short version is that some things went exceptionally well. Others were a disappointment.

Boomershoot charity raffle

I just had my bank send the Boomershoot 2013 raffle proceeds to Soldier’s Angels. This included some private cash donations given to me before and after the Boomershoot dinner and raffle.

I received $150 from G. before dinner, then $200 from D., and $40 from someone else (sorry it was quick and I didn’t catch his name) after dinner.

Here is what my bank says about the payment they are making on behalf of Boomershoot:

Soldier’s Angels
145 N. Sierra Madre Blvd. Unit 5
Pasadena, CA 91107

Phone: (615) 676-0239

Pending Payments

Amount Send On Deliver By
$1,361.00 04/30/2013 05/07/2013

Boomershoot status

The weather is looking pretty good this year.

Details are here.

The short version is:

  • Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 68F. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph.
  • Saturday: Mostly cloudy in the morning, then overcast. High of 63F. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the West in the afternoon.
  • Sunday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 54F. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 15 mph.

So far I have been concentrating on getting Boomershoot Mecca ready for target production. Staff will start showing up for a full day of work tomorrow and I want everything to be ready for them. It’s essentially ready now. Just a few odds and ends still to do.

The portable toilets were delivered yesterday. Brother Gary brought the ATV and trailer over yesterday as well.

I had some exciting times when my tent blew away on Sunday night just before I was going to take a nap about 6:00 PM:


A heavy suitcase prevented it from ending up several miles away in the lake. I had heavy rock on the stakes on four corners but it worked its way loose somehow.

There was no way I was going to get it staked down in that wind so I just took the suitcase out and rolled it on down the hill and put it in the shipping container:


My Verizon phone does not have nearly as good a reception at Boomershoot Mecca as my various friends have reported. Ry ordered a Verizon “Network Extender” (a femtocell) for me which is supposed to arrive today.

My AT&T microcell wasn’t working either. I had to reactivate it and got it working on Sunday.

That was the worst of things so far.

I’ve rearranged Mecca some:


I moved the 3350 pounds of ammonium nitrate twice (“vitamin I” is my friend) before I was happy with things.

I did detonation tests on round targets Barb L. and I had built and stored over two weeks ago. Typically targets go dead in as little as a week during the summer. I figured that if even a small percentage detonated it should be considered a pass. In the first batch only 20% detonated. The others got solid hits but just popped open. I switched to hollow points and 80% of the rest detonated. It didn’t seem to matter if the boxes had the shrink wrap plastic on them or not. That is good to know. There is no need for that time consuming step.

Bottom line is that everything is looking good for a great Boomershoot 2013.

Tab clearing

I have a bunch of open tabs in my browser and I only have a few minutes before I’m leaving for 10 days to put on Boomershoot. I’ll have some time to make a few blog posts but I want to clear these up before I go.

It’s rare but sometimes they really do say the incredibly stupid things that we accuse them of:

Rep. Jackson Lee: ‘Don’t Condemn the Gangbangers’ – We Need Gun Legislation

Jackson Lee took the House floor on April 9 to argue in favor of increased gun control legislation, “Don’t condemn the gangbangers, they’ve got guns that are trafficked — that are not enforced, that are straw purchased and they come into places even that have strong gun laws.”

“Why? Because we don’t have sensible gun legislation.”

Jackson Lee continued by saying that current gun laws need to be enforced,  “I’m going to agree with my friends on the other side of the isle. Our Republican friends, let’s enforce the gun laws that we have – – who would run away from that. That’s a sensible proposition. Put a resolution on the floor of the House – – let’s enforce gun laws that we have.”

Yes. She said that. Blame the gun not the criminals.

Yes. She said that. Put a resolution on the floor to enforce existing laws.

Her babblings should qualify her for dementia medicine trials.

I could only see four out of the ten weapons being in the category “you won’t believe are legal”. And then only if you don’t understand the 2nd Amendment. They had to be desperate for content:

10 Weapons You Won’t Believe Are Legal

  1. Flame Thrower
  2. Miniguns
  3. Katana
  4. Cannon
  5. Crossbow
  6. Grenade Launchers
  7. Nunchucks
  8. Umbrella Sword
  9. Speargun
  10. Chain Whip

There has to be more to this than what I have had time to dig into.

Judge: lawsuits can proceed against theater owner in Colorado massacre

A federal judge refused on Wednesday to dismiss wrongful death and personal injury claims brought against a movie theater chain on behalf of victims of last summer’s mass shooting at a suburban Denver screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled that Cinemark
USA, owner of the theater where 12 people were shot
dead, could potentially be found liable for damages under a
Colorado law that holds landowners responsible for activities on their property.

What? The best I could come up with for a plausible grounds for claiming the theater was responsible was if the plaintiffs believed they were disarmed and unable to protect themselves. And I think that is only about 10% chance of being the case.

Yes. Some people blamed the 2nd Amendment for the Boston bombing:

I once had a boss suggest that I was making so much money at time and a half on weekends that I shouldn’t fly back to Idaho to visit my family. I should just hire a hooker to give me blow jobs under the desk while I continued to write code. I laughed and went home for the weekend.

It turns out there might actually be a market for that sort of service:

Silicon Valley’s other entrepreneurs: Sex workers

In a quiet cafe outside San Francisco, “Josephine” — a local prostitute — arranges a collection of t-shirts across the table. They’re emblazoned with phrases like “Winter is Coming” and “Geeks Make Better Lovers.” She wears them in her online ads to catch the eye of the area’s well-off engineers and programmers.

“I’m trying to communicate to them that I understand a little bit what it’s like to be techy, nerdy, geeky,” she says. There’s another thing Josephine and her clients have in common: Like many of the techies she caters to, Josephine views herself as an entrepreneur.

Boomershoot 2013 shirts

I’ve created the Boomershoot 2013 Cafepress store.

The image (via Barron Barnett, see also his post) on the products is:


You don’t have to be a participant to buy from the store. And there is still time to enter the event if you do want to participate.

We used 14 pounds of explosives and 13 gallons of gasoline for the fireball in the image above.


I got a really good deal on 150 gallons of fuel this year. Ry was a little evasive in his answers but I’m pretty sure he promised not to use it all up this year. You should attend to find out what he has planned. Nomex clothing is optional.

Boomershoot 2013 conditions

Things are looking good for Boomershoot 2013. Some years 16 inches of snow on the shooting line two weeks before the event. And we have even had snow on the hillside where the targets are for the actual event.

This year the local farmers were actually in the field for a few days last week before it started raining. Assuming it doesn’t continue like it was this weekend when Barb L. and I did some work at Boomershoot Mecca there should be good ground conditions and lots of green scenery.

Here is what it looked like today:

The target area is still wet but it will dry out quickly with warm weather.

The field around Boomershoot Mecca is green and in a few weeks will be very pretty.
The fog lifting up out of Clearwater Valley looked really neat. The power lines are from Dworshak dam.

Quote of the day–Barb L.

I think I’m getting repetitive wrist syndrome.

Barb L.
April 6, 2013
After folding hundreds of boxes for Boomershoot 2013
[I had to insist she sit down and watch me putter around arranging things and cleaning up.

We also put up another shelf and tested a new type of target.–Joe]

Vampire season

Barb L. and I just got back from the lumber store after purchasing 1000 stakes:


I really wanted someone to ask why we were buying so many stakes. The checkout clerk “had that look”. You just knew he was wondering but he didn’t ask.

Barb and I were ready with answers. Her answer was, “We run a tourist business of vampire hunts.”

I planned to make him work a little more and get his brain engaged before delivering the punch line. I envisioned it would go something like this:

Clerk: What are you going to do with all those stakes?

Joe: Hunting season opens next weekend in Idaho and we are going to be there for opening day.

Clerk: Okay. <pause> Uh… what are you hunting?

Joe: Vampires.

More blog posts about stake purchases and vampires are here (2006), here (2007), and here (2008). All are about this time of year and all are related to Boomershoot.

Boomershoot Patch Update

OK, here are the updated patches. Two versions, and various rockers that you could put above and /or below. I would REALLY like feedback from people what you are interested in, as I’m ordering them on my own dime on spec, and there are significant price breaks at various production numbers. I’d like to not order a metric boat-load, and only have three buyers of two each (being currently unemployed that would REALLY suck), but I ALSO don’t want to send people away empty handed. I don’t need money up front – I’ll have them at Boomershoot, and anyone who can’t make it or send someone to get them there I’ll make arrangements with after I see what’s left over. They will be 100% stitched, and iron-on backing for those that are sewing-impaired. 4″ circle, matching rockers. If I can buy in reasonable quantity, they will likely be $3 a patch or two for $5, and $1.50 a rocker, perhaps even less. Let me know ASAP. Order is going in next week.

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Boomershoot 2013 prep

Barb L. and I spent most of the day working at Boomershoot Mecca. We (mostly she) folded hundreds of the boxes we use for targets and stacked them on the new shelves:



We also put in more of the supporting brackets for some of the shelves where they were a little weak. They are awesome now!

While Barb was folding boxes I finished grinding (Kitchen Aid blenders rock!) the last of the Potassium Chlorate that was of the wrong particle size. It isn’t as good as it comes from the factory but it is good enough that we can used it for the high intensity event where the bullet velocities are so much higher.

We tested the targets I made the last time I was on site and were stored for several days with the new packaging method of putting the Boomerite directly in the cardboard boxes then sealing the boxes with heat shrunk plastic on the outside of the box. Six out of seven targets detonated exactly as expected. The seventh made a half-hearted pop that spread the contents all over the snow. That sometimes happens anyway so I don’t think the one sort of dud can be attributed to the packaging technique.

All systems are go for the new packaging method.

Boomershoot Patches

I’m looking at ordering a bunch of patches for Boomershoot. They will be 4 inches across. I’ve not finalized the order in terms of numbers and text. Here are the current working ideas, and I’m certainly open to suggestion on preferred mods. Let me know how many you might be interested in buying, so that I can get a specific price – the more people want, the less they will be per item. I am not certain the surrounding text is exactly what I want, though I like the bottom text on all of them (with the possible exception of “medieval,” but I couldn’t think of anything better that sounds good with “minion,” which I really like.) If I make the top more generic, they anyone can get any of them; if I make the top text more “rank” oriented (explosive handlers “henchmen”, helpers “crony”, shooters “minion”, supporters “unindicted”) then there are fewer people might want to buy, but it might encourage “working up through the ranks” to earn them.

By the way, they make great presents and commemoratives, and you can buy more than one, even if it’s not a “rank” you have earned yet


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It’s linear but does it scale?

Paraphrasing Ry as we discuss the fireball for Boomershoot 2013:

One pound explosives one gallon gasoline, no problem. 14 pounds explosives, 14 gallons gasoline no problem. The gasoline is damping the explosion and it’s not breaking any windows. It’s linear! So, 1000 pounds of explosives and 1000 gallons of gasoline should be fine. Right? What could go wrong?

As Barb L. said when Ry and I were leaving for Idaho, “I suspect that you and Ry together equal trouble, sort of like Ruth and me together equal trouble. And it is Superbowl weekend again.

Ry has a history with Superbowl weekend.

Boomershoot Patches

I was thinking it would be nice to have some shoulder-patches made for Boomershoot. Size would most likely a 3″ or 3.5″ round patch. I figure the basic style would be, of course, a red/yellow/black fireball, dark green and blue background (field and sky) with a couple of different options for surrounding text.

I thought that “Boomershoot Target Maker” across the top, with “Henchmen” below for those licensed to handle explosives, Just “Boomershoot Experience” with “Minion” below for those that help with things but never had the explosives license. A possible 3rd type, with “Boomershoot Long Distance” across the top, and “Crony” across the bottom, for the shooters / spotters / attendees / dudes who went there once.

I figure an evil hidden conspiracy mastermind MUST have henchmen, minions, and cronies, right? I mean “STAFF” and an org chart just seem so, so, so… official.

Anyway, what do people think? Any interest? Thoughts? Early orders? Preferred titles like “flunkey” or “accomplice” or something? Spitwads? Job offers?

Obviously, the price would depend on the level of interest.

300 pounds of cardboard

Last Saturday (December 8th) I went out to the Boomershoot site to deliver 300 pounds of cardboard boxes and 400 pounds of Potassium Chlorate to our manufacturing facility.


We had a few 7″ boxes left over and combined with the new boxes we now have the boxes for a little over 600 7″ targets, a little over 1000 4″ targets, and 1000 3″ targets.

Except for needing a few more gallons of ethylene glycol we have enough chemicals to fill those boxes for Boomershoot 2013 and a few private parties.

I’ve purchased new equipment and materials to speed up the manufacturing and I hope to enable shooters to make more booms this than ever before.

There are still positions open. Sign up here.

Evidence of inflation

I recently purchased some Potassium Chlorate for Boomershoot 2013. The delivered price per pound increased 47% from March of this year. Both the price for the chemical and the cost of shipping increased by nearly the same percentage.

It won’t really affect the next Boomershoot but if the inflation rate were to continue at 47% every nine months (approximately 65%/year) it would cause me considerable concern and change the planning for Boomershoot 2014.

New equipment for Boomershoot 2013

I’m always searching for new ways to improve Boomershoot. I recently ordered a OXO Good Grips Food Mill from Amazon in the hopes it could speed up the processing of the potassium chlorate  we use for making Boomerite.

Saturday I tried it out. I first used the smallest screen which is similar in size to the current strainers we use to remove the lump (and sometimes “rocks”) from the potassium chlorate.

A strainer used in preparing potassium chlorate.

Food mill used in preparing potassium chlorate.

The result was that I could process the chemical about 20% faster. I could get about 160 grams per minute through the mill. That was good but not great.

I next tried the medium screen. I got 310 grams/minute! That is a significant improvement and the quality of the result appeared to be just as good as what we have been using. This is probably close to the rate at which a single mixer can consume it in the production of Boomerite. We have two mixers that we sometimes put to use when have enough people.

I was running short of time but I will try the large screen the next time I get a chance.