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Boomershoot 2004 Preparation

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May 6, 2004

Ben, Colin, Kim, Paul, Rolf, Ry, Tim and I worked on target production.  Ry's kids, Aaron, Arden, Anna, and his father put in hundreds of stakes for the targets.

Ben loading some six inch targets.

Kim, Colin, Ben, Tim and Rolf assembling targets.

The stake pounding crew takes a break.

Empty stakes ready for targets.

The magazine is almost full and we are ready for the next day of Boomershooting.

May 4, 2004

Ry, Paul, and I made a quick trip to the range.  We did some tests on the targets and found the .22LR would set off the mix when we put it in the old style containers but not the new cardboard ones.  Then we tested the new targets with a .223 at 380 yards.  The all detonated.  That must mean that the thick cardboard affects the .22LR more than the .223.  All things are a go with the new targets.  We go home happy.

May 2, 2004

Ry, Paul and I went out to test our new tools and build targets.  We got a little bit of a late start when Kim didn't come home last night and I had to go find the van to move stuff from it to the pickup. During the night someone had sideswiped the van which was parked on the street in front of a friend's house. Then Tidyman's didn't have any sandwiches made up and I had to wait for them to be built.

It took a while to set things up and move things out of the shed so we could have room to work. We didn't really get building targets until about 11:00. Then one of the grinders died. I called Barb who was coming out with Tim and Lisa (to deliver their camping trailer) later in the afternoon and asked her to buy two new ones. I got the truck with the rest of the ammonium nitrate on it and we off loaded what we could from that. But because we were running behind schedule on the consumption of AN we didn't have enough room for it. Barb showed up with the grinders about 15:30. We used the new grinders with great success for about 45 minutes until one of them died too. We built targets until 19:00 or so, off loaded all the AN we could squeeze into any decent sized container we could find. The AN had absorbed some moisture and made a mess of the truck bed in places so we had to put the rest of the probably 200 or 300 pounds of AN in sacks and use a pressure washer to clean up the truck. Back to the field with the pickup to load up the stuff that needed to be cleaned and had to come home. Made it home about 23:45. Cleaned up the mixing stuff and was in bed by 23:58. This morning another grinder was dead. Three out of four died. The cheapest and most difficult to use one survived.

Also had problems with fireballs not working and the mix not detonating with a .22LR. We're going back out on Wednesday to do more tests and try and get our production line going. Then get caught up with the production we didn't get done Sunday.

Ry while at the magazine building targets.  Notice the truck with the ammonium nitrate in the background.

Ry and Paul both put in long hours preparing targets.

Joe and the empty magazine.

Paul and Ry working on targets.

Tim and Lisa checking things out after delivering their camping trailer.

Joe cleaning the damp ammonium nitrate out of the truck at night.

April 25, 2004

T-shirts are all in.   All the targets have their one end put on.  I purchased what I think are the last items needed: stakes, lime, concrete blocks, rubber bands, labels, and badges.  Next Sunday we start doing target final assembly and storage.

April 16, 2004

I picked up the t-shirts today.  They got the order wrong.  All the general t-shirts had STAFF on them, all the staff t-shirt did not.  I salvaged what I could and they took the rest back.  They should be ready by next weekend.

April 10, 2004

Barb and I went to the farm to deliver the potassium chlorate stored in our garage.  We dumped off the 550 pounds of potassium chlorate, rearranged a few things, measured power cord lengths (I need to buy some short extension cords), measured the output of the solar cells (about 180 mA at 3:00 PM). Barb convinced me to lie down on the ground and just experience the fresh air of spring for a few minutes. It was very pleasant, we love the springtime in this area. I put a new lock on the shed, then we drove to Mom and Dad's place, gave Doug his lock back, said hi to my parents and borrowed the fertilizer truck to go buy the ammonium nitrate. I wanted about 2500 pounds and because of their lack of control in the loading of the truck ended up with 2600 pounds. That is fine, I will be able to store the excess for next year. We drove back to the shed with the truck and off loaded about 700 or 800 pounds into the empty containers. We ran out of time and drove back to visit with Mom and Dad some before we came back home. Ry and I will go back on May 1 or 2 to build a bunch of targets and off load the rest of the AN.

March 19, 2004

I went out to the site again today. Considering the late start I got and all the talking I did with the neighbors when I got there I got a lot done. Before I left the 6" and 8" tubes (but not the ends for them) were delivered. Two pallets, I don't know how many boxes, but there were a lot of them. Xenia modeled for me from the top of one of the pallets:

I loaded up the pickup with stuff that was ready to go out on site and filled the hole (plus some) in the garage that the stuff in the pickup left. If I hadn't been able to drive out to the shed I would have had to leave the stuff on the pickup until I could. The garage is very full now.

The ATFE inspector gave me permission to use the magazine.  Another hurdle successfully crossed!

Xenia finished the gluing of one end on the 4" tubes today (see the picture below). As soon as the disks come in for the 6" and 8" tubes she can start on those.

The lock on the shed was malfunctioning. I think it corroded internally. My bolt cutters were locked in the shed. I borrowed Dad's and a different lock and went back out.

I finished all the electrical work in the shed I needed to get done before the event. There is still some stuff I want to do, but it's not critical.

I modified four of the crates so they would fit around the bolts in the floor of the magazine. Then I put all the crates in the magazine to make sure they would fit as planned. Everything worked. 70 crates will go in with good ventilation space remaining.

The tree didn't come down as I had hoped. Doug figured we would have a lot more control over where it went using chain saw and it was too windy when we were out there.

The grass is growing on the berm we shoot into, but I didn't see anything coming up on the shooting area berm. I may need to replant.

I arranged to borrow an ATV and a trailer for the event. This will allow us to deliver the ton of explosives in increments of a few hundred pounds to the shooting areas, including 1400 pounds up a steep hill, without using a heavy vehicle.

I shot the different ranges the targets will be with a high quality range finder and got better numbers for the different target locations.  The distribution table has been updated to indicate this new data as well as putting labels on the ranges in the picture of the range.

March 12, 2004

The potassium chlorate shipment arrived today.  This is THE critical item I always worry about getting; it is now safely in hand.

March 6, 2004

Press releases are out.  See the press release page.

March 4, 2004

I forgot to report that the tests on the new mixture was mostly a failure.  We couldn't even duplicate Ry's results from the previous week so we are going to use last year's mix.

I have confirmed orders on all the items with lead times and potential scheduling conflicts.  Chemicals and containers for the targets will be here within about 10 days.  The portable toilets (one wheelchair accessible, one normal) will be there Thursday through Sunday.  The caterer, Freeman Creek Concessions, will be there Friday through Sunday for lunch.

The ATFE inspector, Susan, will be here to inspect the new magazine in a few days.  Immediately upon passing the inspection we will be able to store targets.  Everything is looking good except for the weather.  It snowed a bunch yesterday and will snow again tonight.   But repeat participants know to expect unpleasant weather.  And things could change in the next two months too (this optimism would get a huge laugh from my son who thinks he could auction off the selection of Boomershoot weekend on EBay to someone that wanted a guarantee of rainy miserable weather).

March 1, 2004

The clinic, as expected, filled up.  I received an email from Eugene saying:

Tell the folks to write me an e-mail asking to be on the waiting list. No money is necessary. I will get hold of them in a first come first serve basis and they can pay me at the clinic.

February 29, 2004

We are going to the range today to do some more tests with the new explosive mix.  We need to make it a little more sensitive.  We are close, but not quite there yet.

I canceled the Google Word Ads.  There was virtually no response and I didn't like paying anti-gun bigots my money. has a similar system which includes MSN, Yahoo, Altavista and some other search engines and is doing quite well in terms of getting clicks and increasing the traffic to

February 22, 2004

It was a big week in entries.  12 of the 20 slots for the UltiMAK event are taken now.  21 of the Friday Boomershoot slots are taken which puts that event as full as it was last year at the middle of April.  22 of the Sunday Boomershoot slots are taken.   Last year 30 slots were taken by this time.  So on the whole it's running about the same number of entries as last year when Friday and Sunday are combined.

Ry and Lyle did some tests with a new mixture today.  It is reported to be MUCH more "vigorous" than the old mix.  It's not quite as sensitive so we have to do some tweaking and more testing before we can plan on using it.

February 15, 2004

I went out to the magazine site yesterday.  It survived the heavy snows just fine.  I was pretty worried about it but everything looked good.  My son and I finished off the five minutes worth of work left that I know is required by the ATFE, there might still be some more required but I won't know that until inspection time next month and I expect it will be minor if anything.  And getting it done prior to needing the storage space shouldn't be a problem.

A bunch of UltiMAK entries came in yesterday.  Glad to see it is getting some attention.  I think having a few more people will make it more fun for everyone.

There are now 17 of the Friday Boomershoot, 7 of the UltiMAK, and 20 of the Sunday Boomershoot slots filled.  With 2.5 months left I expect the UltiMAK event will fill up, not sure about the other two.  It depends on how many shooting positions will be available in May, which depends on the weather in April and early May.  Also Kim duToit started running a banner ad on his website.  I'm getting about four hits a day from my ad on the Shotgun News website and about 60 hits a day from Kim's site.  I expect Kim's will taper off some after the initial burst, but still I've received 191 total from Kim this month and 113 from SGN.  The search engine ads for MSN, Yahoo, and others are just now showing up too.  I haven't done a web report recently but I expect there is a real spike in the traffic.  The entry form is being downloaded pretty frequently too.

February 13, 2004

I have 16 slots filled on Friday and 20 filled on Sunday.   This is actually a little ahead of last year, although my impression was it was slower than last year.  I have a lot more slots available this year so I shouldn't be selling out at the end of this month like I did last year unless something really unusual happens.  The UltiMAK event has three slots filled.

February 11, 2004

I made it clear on the entry form and other places that mothers shoot for free on Sunday.

Google is hassling me about have an ad for "gun and/or ammo".  They disallowed some of my keywords and phrases.  I'm rather annoyed but am keeping my cool (in public anyway) until I get some more information on their editorial policy.

We will probably do a press release about the Mother's Day event and maybe the Google bigotry as well.

February 6, 2004

The Google word ad is out now.  The American Rifleman ad will appear in another couple of weeks. 

I got a bunch of entries last night but haven't responded to them yet.  Just a few more and I will have enough to order all the long lead time materials.

February 4, 2004

Several people have told me "the check is in the mail".  Including a guy from Pennsylvania.  This will be our first participant from this state. 

I got an email from someone suggesting the targets have various color stripes or other markings on them to aid in the spotter/shooter dialog.  Good suggestion.  We knew it was a problem and planned to put up colored or marked stakes of some sort in the target area to use as landmarks.  But this would be even further help.

January 31, 2004

Entries are coming in faster now.  Sign up soon if you want to participate.

The banner ad Visit Idaho running on is generating hits, as is mention of the event on (almost as many hits in the first 17 hours as SGN has produced in two weeks).   Kim and his family plan to attend this year.  Kim maintains an awesome gun positive (putting it mildly) blog.  Check it out

Xenia (who did most of it and does neater work than I) and I have put one ends on 250 of the 4" targets.  That's almost enough for one day for this size target.

January 18, 2004

I tested a number of different glues on the lids for the 4" targets over the last week or so.  I found a couple that worked great and chose the one that was the easiest to apply with the least noxious fumes.  My youngest daughter, Xenia, has the day off from school tomorrow and will be putting one of the ends on them.

January 7, 2004

The lab where I work canceled work today because of the snow (about one foot -- but here in the desert they don't know what to do with it).  I got all the paperwork on the new magazine done for the ATFE and sent off to them.  They just need to inspect it and then (assuming I don't need to correct anything) I can start storing explosives in it.  This will be a huge weight off my shoulders for this next event.  We desperately need this magazine.  And it will take care of the problem of making targets in the wind, rain, and at night.  Shelter, power, and lights.  It will be so awesome!

January 4, 2004

Ry and I left Moscow about 7:30 and we ate corndogs I bought at the gas station for breakfast.  We stopped at the farm and borrowed some tools.  The temperature was about 5F.  We went on to the road closest to the site and realized we forgot to cut some of the wood needed for the walls.  Apparently the corndog messed up Ry's stomach and we drove back to the farm to cut the wood and give Ry a chance to recover.  The electricity was out when we got back and I used a handsaw to cut the wood.  Back to the site and Ry wanted to try driving on to the magazine, I vigorously vetoed it. There was nearly twice as much snow as there was two days previously.  I snowshoed in with a full backpack and both hands full of materials and tools.  Ry stayed at the pickup to continue his recovery.  I fell twice going over a drifted over bank that was steeper than I realized.  I finished putting the plywood on one wall before lunch.  Ry made it to within sight of the shed before vomiting twice and went back.  We went back to the farm for lunch with my parents.  It had warmed up to 7F.  After lunch I finished the other wall, the floor, and the screens over the vents.  All the stuff required by the ATFE is completed.  I walked out to the road and pickup just after 17:00.  Ry had reached the point of deciding he needed to go looking for me and was working on how to do that when I showed up.

January 2, 2004

Another trip to the magazine resulted in only minor improvements.  I got the pickup stuck and had to put on chains and do some shoveling to get out.  I didn't get the pickup all the way to the magazine and walked the last 100 yards or so.  I wasn't able to get the plywood installed and the rug for the floor was only four feet long instead of six feet like the label said it was.  I did get another battery installed for the electrical system and installed a chain on the door to keep it from wiping out the shed if it was opened too far.

December 30, 2003

Quotes on potassium chlorate, and the 6" and 8" targets have been received and will be ordered after the first of the year.

The magazine made another step closer to completion on Christmas Eve.  The interior plywood was painted and some of it was glued into place.  The ceiling and the door interior were painted with epoxy paint, two more solar panels were installed, the contents of the shed were rearranged, and a full pickup load of "stuff" was unloaded.  The floor needs to be covered, screens put over the vents, and the rest of the plywood installed before the ATFE inspection.

November 15, 2003

We received 1000 of the new 4" targets this week.  They aren't quite what we ordered but I think we can make them work.  I'm certain the shooters will like them better and the people building targets will like them better.  They should be easy to see with the white end caps and they should be much more durable than the aseptic containers.  We need to do some tests to see how closely we can space them and how well they tolerate bullet and rock fragments.  I have updated the size and distribution of the targets again.  Combining both Friday and Sunday shooting we will be using over a ton (it's projected at about 2260 lbs) of explosives this year in 1250 targets.  That doesn't count the targets consumed in demos and in the clinic.

November 1, 2003

Yesterday I installed fluorescent lights in the magazine.  They are powered by a deep-cycle marine battery and a 700 W inverter.  The battery is charged by a solar cell panel mounted on the side of the shed.  The inverter will also power the blenders and mixers used for grinding and mixing the chemicals for the targets.

On the way home I harvested a deer with my wife's Jeep.  The Jeep was damaged but still functional.  The deer will soon have a new home in my brother's freezer.

I updated the changes page.   If you are interested there are some new pictures of the shooting area and the magazine.

October 30, 2003

The new explosive magazine (Ry named it the Taj Mahal) is almost complete.  I just need to line it with plywood and get ATFE approval to start storing explosives. 

"Taj Mahal" explosives magazine.  Click on the picture for high resolution image.
Photo, magazine design, magazine construction supervision, and paint job by Ry.
Concrete work by Doug, Lowell, Ry, and Joe.
Shed assembly by Doug and Lisa.

October 7, 2003

The concrete pad for the new explosives magazine has been finished for several days now.  The 3000 pound explosives magazine (the door alone is 600 pounds!) will be delivered within a day or two.  I have come up with a new target.  These will hold about four pounds of high explosives each.  Previously the 'big targets' held just two pounds.

I have set the target distributions.  Pound wise, it figures out to more than twice as much explosives as last year.  Numbers wise it's about 15% more targets with essentially the same average number of expected shots per target.  Ry and I will be testing out a new target idea soon so there may be some changes in the target size and distribution, but we don't know for certain yet.

September 29, 2003

Ry and I put in a full day "terraforming".  We created a raised shooting area about 25 yards back from where the previous shooting line was.  It isn't the full width (yet) for a couple of reasons.  1) Under worst case weather conditions between now and the May 2004 event the grass Ry planted will fail to grow and it will be a mud pile.  2) Insufficient time to do all the work without risking a divorce (Joe, not Ry, who is already divorced).  See Changes for 2004 for more details.

September 16, 2003

The concrete for the new magazine will arrive at 9:30 AM today.

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Email: Joe Huffman
Last updated: July 08, 2004