Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Shouldn't it be illegal?
A: Only if you are a Puritan and afraid that someone, somewhere is having fun.
Q: Why guns and explosives?
A: 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
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
Q: The Boomershoot has been going on for a few years now. What sort of safety record
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
www.nrahq.org. For more advance
shooting instruction, that is more appropriate for this event, see our web page on our world
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
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.
Email: Joe Huffman
January 26, 2006