Heading Back To Texas… And While I’m Gone, A Caution

June 15, 2012

After an almost interminable two weeks in CA, I’m heading back to Texas.  Hopefully this will be my last round trip.  Next time I drive down, that should essentially be it.   Color me stoked! 

At any rate, before I go, I wanted to pass along a little cautionary note. 

Star targets are available at places like Cabelas. There are many other brands, and some folks have learned to make their own.

There’s a hot new product out there for target shooters…  exploding targets.  They are usually composed of tannerite, which is basically ammonium nitrate with an aluminum powder catalyst.  Separately, the components are inert and harmless.  However, once you mix them you get an explosive.  The friction of a high velocity bullet causes the mixture to explode with pretty spectacular results. 

These things hit the market last year, and they’ve become really popular.  I have to say, they are pretty damned cool.  They can really add a whole new dimension to a range session. 

It shouldn’t take a ton of common sense to recognize that something like this comes with a few caveats.  For one thing, when the target blows up, it sends small fragments flying at pretty high velocity.  I’ve seen one blow a big chunk out of a dead tree, and the shrapnel destroyed a paper target that was set up about five feet away.  You wouldn’t want to be shooting these things at close range (such as a pistol range). 

It also shouldn’t require a genius to understand that the explosion is caused by the target components’ rapid combustion… aka, burning.  Even though it only lasts a second, the fire is pretty hot and can easily ignite dry grass, leaves, or other flammable material.  There are warnings on the package to this effect, but apparently some folks just aren’t getting it.  According to this article in the Idaho Statesman, at least four wildfires have been attributed to exploding targets already, and it’s likely that there are going to be more. 

It’s summer time, which equates to fire season across the country.  In particular, the west is really drying out fast, and major wildfires are already in the news.  Blowing stuff up can be a lot of fun, but that fun needs to be tempered with some common sense. 

Be careful out there.  Please.

Hat tip to Jesse’s Hunting and Outdoors for posting this up on Facebook.


4 Responses to “Heading Back To Texas… And While I’m Gone, A Caution”

  1. ingrid on June 17th, 2012 11:17

    Phillip, when I look at fireworks restrictions and such, it’s hard for me to imagine the legality of Tannerite, sold and packaged for amusement purposes. But I guess the legitimate uses for a binary compound like this, make it difficult to control ancillary uses?

  2. Phillip on June 18th, 2012 09:27

    Ingrid, I sort of agree. I was surprised to see this stuff available at mass-market outlets, and shippable to California (cannot be shipped to Maine, Alaska, and New York). I expect you’re right that the reason is that it’s a binary, and the individual components are inert until combined. It’s also true that this is extremely easy (and fairly safe) to make right in your own kitchen. Hard to regulate something like that. But I think the biggest reason it’s still widely unrestricted is that it’s still really new on the market, and folks outside of the shooting community still haven’t heard of it. I expect we’ll see restrictions increase… even if they’re unenforceable “feel-good” laws. Time will tell.

    Personally, I wish people would exercise enough common sense so that restrictions and regulations like these weren’t considered necessary.

  3. Neil H on June 19th, 2012 07:01

    Yeah definitely a combination of “oh cool”, and an uneasy feeling about the potential wildfires. Unfortunately there’s people who don’t think for a second about pitching a cigarette butt out their car window either. I’m curious how long this will last legally in the hot dry states.

  4. ingrid on July 4th, 2012 11:33

    “Personally, I wish people would exercise enough common sense so that restrictions and regulations like these weren’t considered necessary.”

    Me, too, Phillip. I wish this on just about every issue.

    Happy Independence Day. I hope this finds you happy and loving the new place you’re calling home.