So, as you may have guessed, the "Wizard of ID" is in fact Joe Huffman of Boomershoot. I am attending his shooting event for the second time.. and this time around I am much better prepared. I am using the same rifle I used last year (no last minute panics!) and know more about what I'm doing. I also have better blogging equipment, which will enable me to bring a lot more of the event to the web for my readership. My one regret: I started the day with the wrong type of media for recording video. I was at least able to dispatch a minion to retrieve the correct media, so I will have video tomorrow. I hope, anyway.
This time, I flew into Lewiston rather than Boise, saving me about 5 hours of driving time. This was a good decision. When I arrived last year, after being up for about 36 hours straight and driving for the last 6 of those, I didn't have time or energy to do much more than sleep.
Unfortunately, I couldn't bring my kittens. They were disappointed. But kittens and explosives don't mix, even if the kittens do volunteer to be targets:
The media day started around 10am, with an orientation and tour (which I missed) followed by a drive to the Taj Mahal.
Oh, and did I mention that Joe does great bumper?
We would be learning how to manufacture the targets, along with such tasty tidbits as learning the recipe for boomerite. Yes, I said tasty -- who knew explosives could be tasty? Well, at least one of the bloggers in attendance can now say with a straight face that they have eaten an explosive and it was good. (Bitter, how's about coming up with your own recipe for edible boomerite?)
After that, the safety briefing was almost anticlimatic. Don't set it off too close to anyone. Be prepared to put out a fire if you do set one off, especially if it involves flame. Don't get the stuff on your clothes or on metal; it will corrode those materials "like salt water on steroids". Do not expose to sunlight, because it will spontaneously combust... later on when you aren't watching it anymore. If anything goes wrong, pour water on it. (Most of the safety lecture really did boil down to pouring water on the problem).
Oh... and don't drop the targets. They should be safe to drop... but please don't test that. Just in case. Especially not while standing next to me.
Joe went first and made a sample batch of his boomerite. Look how manly he is as he practices his domestic explosives preparation skills!
(I got that picture by waiting for an opportune moment and asking Joe to "Look up and strike your most manly pose.")
Joe made up a batch of boomerite for a sample target then we all helped clean up the place, after which Joe detonated a sample target for us. It was entertainingly close.
Then it was time for lunch. It seems someone gave Joe a bunch of MREs that he's been trying to get rid of since the Vietnam war at least, and we were a captive audience. Plus, the MREs themselves provided the fodder for another impromptu lesson in chemistry.
After lunch, we covered the chemistry of explosives in a little more detail. The major takeaway from this for me was: "Making things blow up is harder than it looks." Trial and error and lots of testing. Preferably safe, careful testing.
After a few more amusing stories from Joe, we covered the theory of fireball construction. This continued the theme from earlier -- making things explode is hard. Making them explode in a brilliant fireball is harder.
Next on the agenda: we made our own targets. Once you have the right ingredients and the recipe, mixing them together wasn't difficult, though care and caution was and should be used. Experienced, adult supervision is also helpful, especially when the supervision comes from people who can tell you what not to do in so many different and exciting ways out of their own personal experience.
There was a general consensus on using some of the boomerite to do a fireball. As mentioned earlier those can be hard, and you would think that with inexperienced manufacturers doing the work, the fireball might not come off very well. But we managed it, with the best fireball I have seen so far.
Here's a still image from shortly after detonation. (This was not the best image by any means, just the one I happened to catch)
After the fireball, we placed the rest of the targets along the berm and detonated them by carefully aimed rifle fire. These were definitely entertainingly close. I got hit by clods of dirt all four times, even lying prone. (Slow-moving clods, thankfully).
Here's an over-the-shoulder view of me and one of my targets, prior to detonation:
And following detonation:
Finally, Joe gave us a bit of Boomershoot history. The original inspiration was an event called Blanchard's Blast that used soda cans and dynamite. There was more, but right now I'm not remembering it at all.