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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Shouldn't it be illegal?
Only if you are a Puritan and afraid that someone, somewhere is having fun.

Q: Why guns and explosives?
In the grand scheme of things guns and explosives are new in the human experience.  Throwing rocks into a lake is probably the closest thing that occurred in the million years prior to the invention of gunpowder.  Even that activity is still a source of brief pleasure for kids of all ages.  The human brain wasn't evolved in the presence of today's devices and the 'magic' they perform stimulates the innate curiosity and wonder of something new and strange that contributed to humans being so much better with tools than other animals.  Firearms are wonderful tools for performing action at a distance but the effect that small 'pebble' has on something several hundred yards away is not always obvious.  Typically it's just a small hole punched in a piece of paper which can't be seen without powerful optics or a several minute walk.  Explosives change that.  You get nearly instantaneous feedback in the form of a cloud of smoke followed shortly by the boom and the thump to your chest from the explosion.  You know you hit it. You know you made that happen.

If the shooter were to get an explosion with every pull of the trigger, just as the rock thrower gets a splash with every toss of a rock into the lake the fascination would probably not last much longer than with the rocks.  But by making the targets small and the distance great the rewards become intermittent.  This makes the thrill more satisfying when that thump to the chest, from an explosion over a quarter mile away occurs.  This intermittent reward system evokes another deep seated response -- to compete, to do better next time, to find a solution to this 'puzzle'.

Boomershooter Lyle Keeney elaborates on what this means to him:

I like the science, mental discipline, and physical discipline aspects-- body position, hold, attention to pulse and breathing, trigger control, sight picture, counteracting the natural instinct to flinch, metallurgy, chemistry, mechanics, optics, geometry, ballistics, meteorology, and the like. It all has to come together within the time span of several milliseconds. This IS rocket science, Baby.

Q: Haven't things changed now?  With the D.C. snipers don't you think it's irresponsible to be teaching people to shoot?
A: Training people to shoot at the Boomershoot is much different than being a sniper.  There are lots of essential things to being a sniper that are totally irrelevant at the Boomershoot.  Those criminals didn't have the strength of character to be real snipers and probably not Boomershooters either. 

Q: The Boomershoot has been going on for a few years now. What sort of safety record do you have?
A: Zero explosives related injuries.  Five years, six events, 10's of thousands of rounds fired, and over a thousand pounds of explosives consumed. The only injuries have been scrapes, minor bruises, slivers, minor sunburn, cold fingers and toes, a bloody forehead from a rifle scope being too close to a face during firing, and sore shoulders from the rifle's recoil.  

Q: What safety rules are enforced?
A: We have a strict cease-fire procedure for when cars are driving by. Every participant is required to use eye and ear protection, and they must be able to recite the three NRA rules of gun safety before they are allowed in the shooting area. We also have range officers strictly enforcing the rules. Practically every high school football game has an ambulance standing by on the scene. We've never seen an ambulance standing by at a shooting event because it's not necessary. This is probably the safest spot in Idaho right now. 

Q. Would you recommend one of those super accurate rifles for a beginning shooter?
A. Not necessarily. A good first rifle is a .22 rimfire bolt action with iron sights. You can learn about proper handling, aiming, trigger control-- all the shooting basics, without at the same time worrying about optics, super accurate loadings and super shooting skills. A good .22 will be much less expensive, and the ammunition is cheap too.

Q. How would I go about getting proper instruction as a new shooter?
A. Very good question. The host, Joe Huffman, is an NRA certified instructor, and holds classes for beginners. Stephanie Sailor, a certified instructor and one of the workers at the Boomershoot, specializes in teaching beginners. You can also call the NRA (originally, they were strictly a gun club and shooter services organization before there were any federal gun laws, and that is their main function today) and they will be happy to direct you to a certified instructor in your area. You can also reach them on the web at  For more advance shooting instruction, that is more appropriate for this event, see our web page on our world class instruction.

Q: I've heard the Boomershoot attracts a really diverse crowd, and is a perfect example of how the shooting sports attract everyone from Boeing engineers to teachers.
A: That's right. We have people come from all over the country, teenagers to retirees, and all types of vocations all with the common interest of long range precision shooting.

Q: At this event, do the women and children really hold their own against people with military training?
A: First off, this isn't really a competition so it's not a matter of 'holding your own'.  This is strictly recreational.  But beyond that, yes, absolutely! A large aspect of precision rifle shooting is mental, good communication with your spotter, and knowing your capabilities and that of your equipment.  This isn't anything like a military or police situation and although the marksmanship skills they are taught are helpful it's not going to put you at an extreme disadvantage if you decide you want to compete with your friend who does have that type of training.

Q: Isn't there something illegal about this?  
A: No, at least not in Idaho.  And we have had numerous active law enforcement officers participate over the years.  Although it wasn't strictly necessary, we do have a Federal license from the ATFE to manufacture high explosives.  The ATFE regularly inspects our storage facility.  We have had zero problems with them and they with us.  

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Email: Joe Huffman
Last updated: January 26, 2006