Palouse Practical Shooters July 18th, 1999 Boomershoot
Joe Huffman's cell phone: 206-499-7279
I use the word "Emergency" loosely. If you just want some last minute hints finding the place as you get close, you are going to be a few minutes late, or pretty much whatever you think I might be able to help with at the last minute, just give me a call. If someone needs to get in contact with you give them this number for the day of the shoot. If I'm on site (starting about Sunday 7:00 AM) I should have good reception. If I'm in route someplace reception is spotty in that area (FYI, Lewiston and Moscow are good, but the last I checked Kendrick and Orofino was poor to non-existent).
The event went off pretty much as planned. I was a bit disappointed by the turn out but other than that the actual event went just fine.
One of the highlights of the event was when the 700 yard cigar box target went off. It detonated on my sixth shot at it. Shari (one of the shooters) was getting something out of her vehicle about 725 yards from the target and said it shook the vehicle. About 15 or 20 minutes later we had some new spectators show up. I went over to talk to them and they said they were walking around in a field the other side of Cavendish when they heard one explosion and remembered the event from reading about it in the paper a few days earlier. The got in their pickup and came looking for us. After some more querying I found out they were about five miles away when they heard the boom. When I went up on the hill to clean up the remnants there was only a few small pieces of the IPSC target and the stakes used to hold it up. The cigar box was completely consumed.
Here are some pictures from the event:
Boom! At about 275 yards.
Notice the smoke going almost straight up? Almost no wind, blue sky. It was a great day for shooting. Those round bales of hay are about five feet in diameter so you can tell the column of smoke is about 50 feet tall and climbing. At this range you get a pretty good thump in the chest from the explosion as well as the visual indication of a solid hit.
Firing line looking west.
Firing line looking east.
A few days later.
As you might guess from the picture above, we had a problem. Here's the story... Sunday, July 18th, the day of the shoot, everything went fine. I walked the area and disposed of the ruptured (but undetonated) targets by stacking them up and setting them off by a round from about 20 or 30 yards away. The untouched targets were locked away in the magazine. I went home and packed for our trip to Glacier National Park. By mid morning we were out of town. By 2:00 PM or so we were in Montana -- and my Mom got a call from one of the neighbors near the site. The hay field was on fire. My cousin Alan (with two broken ribs and a broken collar bone from "harvesting" a deer with the front wheel of his motorcycle) was first on the scene. The fire was also spotted about this time by a CPTPA (Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Agency) plane. My Mom radioed my brother and Dad who were on their way home from town. They arrived shortly as well as the local volunteer fire department. CPTPA sent a pumper truck and a couple of pickup loads of men to fight the fire. In all there were at least 19 people on site to fight the fire. I was blissfully unaware of all the excitement and was setting up camp along the Clark Fork river. It wasn't until the fire was all under control and I happened to find a cell phone signal while hiking atop a mountain near our camp site that I called Mom to chat about something else that I found out what happened. It sounded like it was all under control and except for seven or eight destroyed hay bales no permanent damage occurred. Lots of man power went into it, but everything was "okay". I called my brother the next day to get an update. The Clearwater Country Sheriff had visited the site and had pretty well determined that the origin of the fire was in or near one of the craters. Also, during the fire another fire started up-wind from the main blaze (see the little black spot in the lower right corner of the picture above?). This was put out before it got very big. This appeared to start a short distance away from the nearest crater. They sprayed all the craters they could find with water and searched all the target areas for left-over targets. They found two partial targets and two untouched targets. The were left in the middle of the burned area, figuring that if they went off by themselves it couldn't burn an area that had already been burned.
I came home late Thursday and went to visit the site on Friday (when the picture above was taken). I determined that the main fire had started at one of my disposal areas. A place where I had put the remains of nine targets. The second fire started at target position number two. That target had been torn to pieces without detonating, there was barely enough explosive material there for me to dispose of on Sunday. The rest had been scattered by gun fire. I soaked several areas where there were torn targets and material left from the targets. Water will dissolve most of the active ingredients and make them inert. I think the area is now safe and no more fires will spontaneously erupt.
The bad news isn't over yet.... The two torn targets and the two intact targets were not where I expected them. I found two completely empty targets and one target that had a couple tablespoons worth of material in it. I burned the one with a small amount of material in it and picked up the torn ones. I have asked everyone that I can think of to ask about who might have taken the two intact targets and done something with the material in the targets that were torn. The sheriff's office tracked down what happened to the missing target. Here is the text of the letter (minus the actual phone numbers) I asked them to send me (yes, it's in all capital letters) on July 28th:
New procedures will be in place for the April 2000 shoot to make CERTAIN that no targets will escape disposal. Areas with torn targets will be soaked with water at disposal time. This must not happen again.
July 13, 1999 - I made up another 33 targets plus a cigar box full (enough explosives for about five of the normal targets) for a 700 yard target. That is a total of 85 targets plus the cigar box. I don't know if the cigar box will detonate properly being so much thinner than the normal target but it's worth a try. I'll put another milk carton on an IPSC target at 700 yards just in case. There aren't very many people signed up yet, so it should be plenty of targets unless I get a whole bunch of last minute entries. If I do, I'll make up some more on Saturday or Sunday before the event.
The hay is all baled and the site looks good. It's a little early to be getting accurate weather prediction for the event, but it looks as if it we may have a chance of clouds and showers. I'm going to out of town until Friday night or Saturday morning (don't expect an email response until then -- call my cell phone if you need to contact me). If it looks like rain enough to cancel the event I will come back Friday evening and call all the people that have sent in their entries. I will call by 9:00 PM on Friday.
July 10, 1999 - There are 52 targets made up. I'll work on the others tomorrow or the next day. No more last minute production of explosives. That's just not a good thing to do. The hay has been cut and most of it baled. I expect the rest will be baled by late today or tomorrow. Once it is baled we won't have a problem using the land. I have my helpers all lined up. I've checked out all the shooting areas, I'll need to use the weed-eater on a few spots in the 525->700 yard range, but that shouldn't be a problem. Everything is a go at this point.
July 9, 1999 - I added a link to the August event. A number of the usual people won't be able to make the July and plan on getting their entries in early for the August event. Major Econ will be back with a Precision Rifle Seminar too. Sign up early because I expect this one to fill up very quickly.
July 5, 1999 - I added another Q & A about flying your own plane into the area. Things look good so far. I talked to the renter that will be taking the hay crop off of the land where the shooting line is. The hay should be cut and baled, but perhaps not removed from the field by the 18th. That shouldn't be a problem. Just don't be shooting or messing up the bales. He may be there as a shooter or a spectator and both of us would have some very serious objections to someone messing up his crop.
I did some crude visibility tests on different colors. It appears that I will be using mostly white targets. There are a few left-over fluorescent red and orange targets, but last time someone explained to me that being color blind he couldn't see them on the green grass very well.
July 1, 1999 - I know this is short notice for everyone, but a bunch of things were up in the air. I just confirmed yesterday that my chemicals were going to be here on time. On June 29th I finally got the explosive magazine to the point where I can store things in it without risk of theft (bullet resistance should be done next week). At this time you will need to bring your own food. I'm still working on getting someone to cater the event.