ESS And Boomershoot 2012…

It went up without me even noticing it! 

Guns and explosives, not to mention Shelly and Anette.  Why haven’t you hit play yet!?

I mentioned how much I liked ESS Eyewear back here.  The video title makes me wonder where volumes 1-4 are though.

What Stupid Looks Like

I have done some not too bright things around explosives.  Last week a particular individual did something incredibly stupid.

Initially I was going to just leave it at the comment I made over at Caleb’s place.  Then there was this incident brought to my attention by Lyle.  That gave me the inkling to do a post, then Weer’d posted the video of what exactly happened in the FPS Russia incident.   After watching the video I had to pick my jaw up off the floor at this idiocy.

First a note, do not recreate anything in this video, if you survive it will be either because of blind dumb luck or because God has a soft spot for you and your idiocy.

If you want to skip to 4:46 to save yourself 4 minutes and 46 seconds of pure garbage.

Does anyone see what he did wrong there?  Anyone?  Bueller?

He violated the first rule of explosives.  He placed something between him and the explosive.  You see when you detonate an explosive inside of something it propels the surrounding material out at extremely high velocity.  This is the basic principle behind a pipe bomb.  The pipe itself becomes extra shrapnel in the explosion.

This is why when we Idaho Stress test an object we ALWAYS place the explosives in front of the target.  We never place the object in front of the explosive, that is how you take shrapnel to the face.

This is serious and this isn’t a joke.  That camera man is lucky he isn’t dead or more seriously injured right now.  Just because the object is larger in size doesn’t mean that it’s safe.  What is a safe distance then?  Lets use the 2008 toilet as an example.

We shot that toilet from approximately 400 yards away.  When I say we in this case, I mean the entire shooting line.  We found pieces of that toilet well over 100 yards away.  Note we found them in a field meaning they had to be big enough to be easily seen above the grass.

We can also look at the pumpkin examples.

I know we had approximately 6 lbs inside the large pumpkin in the second video.  We found chunks, not bits, 125 yards away.  Many of those chunks were also relatively light in weight and had a lower B.C.  In that case we were shooting from about 30 yards, however it should be noted the object was not metal or dense in nature.   Metal merely rips and turns in to shrapnel which is nothing more than a knife flying through the air.

Given those above examples, I honestly wouldn’t blow anything up that had metal in it from within 200 yards, and due to my love of cushion, I’d double it to 400 for extra safety.

Joe, Ry, and I all almost made this fatal mistake by accident.  That is a wonderful example of how much power and force there is behind explosives and why you really need to pay attention.  So please, if you want to go out and play with explosives, pay attention and pay heed to the first rule:

Never Place Anything Between You and The Explosive.

Remember to be careful out there and use your head.  Sometimes well all forget to think things through, but the more you think about it, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Update: Ry just posted a reminder of the results of an experiment he and Lyle did.  Note what it did to the steel and how far it went.

How I Came to Love ESS Eyewear

I will state this up front.  Janelle and I received a free pair of ESS frames and lenses with no attachment to them.  They were ours to keep and use.  I have worn them constantly since I got them at Boomershoot this year.  So while I did get free stuff, there was no request for a review, and I was not compensated for this.  In other words, the following is entirely my opinion and no one paid for any of this so the FCC can go suck an egg.

Lately we have had a few reminders of why wearing your eye protection is important and others doing reviews of eye protection themselves.  Well I’m going to do both.

The Review

My previous eyewear was no slouch however they left something to be desired, doubly so since I was spending considerably more time with ear muffs on.  For those who haven’t spent all day wearing hearing protection while wearing sunglasses, let me enlighten you.  There is the frame which runs back behind the ear.  Your ear muffs sit around your ear attempting to create a tight seal.

Two things happen because of that frame.  Extra pressure is applied from the muffs pinching your head between your frames and a decrease in noise reduction from the hearing protection.  Enter ESS’s Cross Series.

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I have two of the three frames, the Cross Bow and Suppressor.

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The Cross Bow frames are your everyday frames and I have worn them every day since Boomershoot and they have been amazingly comfortable.  The rubber pads maintain the comfort while also helping to keep them from sliding off your head.  I also use these when working in the shop doing things that don’t require hearing protection.  That includes cleaning the toys, I just swap out for the clear lenses.

Every part of the series in individually replaceable.  Scratch or destroy the lenses order new ones.  Break a frame, order a new frame.  Break a nose piece, order a replacement.

Now the Suppressor frames are why I fell in love with ESS, plus a little story I’ll get to here in a minute.

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Notice how thin the ear pieces are on the frame?  They are unbelievably flexible and well are wide and thin to help distribute pressure.  Not only do they solve the pressure problem but the fact they are thin helps hearing protection form a good seal around your head.  In other words they solve the two main problems you find with most safety glasses.  The visibility while shooting with the copper lenses I might add is amazing.  The rear strap effectively keeps the glasses in place while you’re not wearing hearing protection.

The comfort and visibility are quite nice.  With most glasses if there is a gap anywhere I can see out, I will most often find myself using that to look, completely defeating the purpose of the safety glasses.  These however I just look as I normally would, my peripheral vision remains while I cannot effectively look through gaps to try to skirt around the glasses.

These have become my go to glasses for yard and shop work where I need hearing protection.  Even my father-in-law, who is a machinist, is going to be ordering a prescription set that he can use at work.  My mother-in-law is getting a pair as well.  I’m going to get a complete kit to toss in my range bag so I know I’ll always have a set with me when going to the range.

As a FYI for how much use these things see for those who haven’t met me, I am actually unbelievably anal when it comes to eye and hearing protection around tools and equipment.  I know growing up with many 4th of July’s I’m sure I’ve done a decent amount of hearing loss.  To top that off I enjoy my weekends by spending time shooting guns and blowing up explosives.  I regularly wear plugs on top of wearing muffs specifically because I’m around such loud impulses.

It has become such a habit I wear hearing protection if I’m going to be around loud noises, it’s just easier to wear eye and ear protection than to buy hearing aids and hope the doc can repair my eyes… which brings us around to the story.

The Story

You see, your humble host has spent so much of his time around explosives, entertainingly close is entertaining for me.  For many it’s terrifying but I’ve been around explosives enough that as long as you remember the cardinal rule I’m not that afraid.  In other words a box on the ground with nothing between me and it doesn’t cause me discomfort being close.

Now I won’t go as close as the current record holder and never will.

That said, even without stuff between you and the explosive, odds are you’re going to get peppered.  Some time’s you’re lucky and your optic catches the mud destined for your eye.

Sometimes you just end up turning your clothes a nice shade of brown.  So now you’re asking yourself, where is all this going?  Well Tango got my earlier entertainingly close excursion on video.

Now, towards the end, the video doesn’t show it too well but I was easily with 10-15 feet of a bunch of those boomers.  If you don’t understand how close that was, let me say, I should have been wearing my Carhartt jacket.  What do you mean I hear you ask, well let me show you.

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That wasn’t from the mud, that was from the ammonium nitrate prills.  There were more injuries on the other side of my arm too.  That peppering occurred during one of the last couple shots.  So at this point I found my limit of how close I was willing to go.

But you see, your humble scribe often acts before the page fault has allowed all the necessary data to be returned to memory for the correct decision.  Even more than that, often the page fault doesn’t occur until after the fact where the event itself causes the page fault.

Can you guess what happened?  I’m sure you can, especially since this is a post about eyewear.  Well let me set the stage for you.

It is the last day of Boomershoot.  Everyone but staff has left and we are rounding up piles upon piles upon piles of explosives.  There were so many explosives I said, and I quote,

You know something is horribly wrong with you when you’re finding it tedious and exhausting to set off hundreds of explosives.

If you’ve never been there for staff cleanup and haven’t worked the days preceding the event you just can’t really fully understand it.  I seriously don’t know how Joe does it but I’m grateful that he does.

So I’m tired and exhausted and we’re tailing down the end of a very long week.

Continuing on though, we have to look for boxes of Boomerite that may have skipped over the berm, while walking behind the berm I discover an ant hill that is by no means small.  Well to demolish said ant hill we place a couple of targets of Boomerite on it.  I place them in such a manner as to give me the maximum distance without placing anything between me and it.

We start shooting explosives.  We shoot more explosives.  We shoot three waves of explosives  most of us extremely tired and exhausted by the end.  We call the range safe after the “last” boomers go off and we start cleaning up.  Then as someone walks behind the berm, “Barron, we forgot the ant hill.”

Frick, Joe is already up on the hill in the direction I was originally going to shoot, well I only have one other option.  I move about 120 degrees to give myself maximum distance from the target.  Without realizing it though I have now inadvertently broken the cardinal rule.  Parts of the anthill are between me and some of the explosive.

I squeeze off that round and immediately I’m encased in a cloud and my left hand, arm, and face feel like they’re on fire.  It freaking hurts. I start falling off the top of the berm and immediately drop the muzzle and flip the safety on.  Tango is behind me and I take off the rifle and hand it to him asking him to clear to make life easier.  I probably could have cleared it, but at the time I was wanting to do it one-handed.  One handed hand off is easier.  I didn’t need to compound this with shooting myself or someone else.

Again for those who don’t know, my pain scale is screwed up compared to most people.  There is a reason for that and I have done serious damage and then showed up to the doctor 2 day’s later with him saying “WTF!?”.  I would take my pocket knife and dig out glass from my arm and hand when I would find it.  In this case my arm felt like I had just take it to a belt sander with 120 grit on it.

I had a high number of pain exceptions and overloaded the system. It took a visual inspection to clear the faults.  My brain registered a high number of impacts, thankfully only a few broke the skin, the two most notably.

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You can’t really see it but the spot I’m bleeding out of on my knuckle is a ripped open scar, (it’s bigger now), and my lower arm and hand are both bright red from being peppered with smaller spots bleeding.  The hit below my left eye was a solid hit, I washed some crap out of it when we got back to the hotel. Inspection of the ant hill after the fact indicated that I was also blowing up a stump.  Also not visible in the picture was dirt and marks from larger debris that had obviously impacted the glasses.

I am extremely grateful I wasn’t any closer, given the few major cuts I had along with the peppering of bleeding I was on the hairy edge.

At the time I wasn’t so sure I was going to document my stupidity.  I realized though now it actually is one of those things that speaks well for ESS.  The glasses didn’t really end up with any pitting and they did  their job.  I will say I wish I had been at least wearing my flight gloves to save my hand.

So in closing a big thank you to the guys at ESS, especially Steve Dondero and Ari Drougas from ESS.

*Also I forgot to mention, there were a couple of folks shooting next to Shelly and Anette, and thus next to the ESS guys, who were shooting without eye protection.  Yeah the ESS guys tried to give them free suppressors to wear but they turned them down.  I’m of the mind that an extra 50 bucks in my pocket won’t make a lick if difference if the time comes my glasses have to do their job.  In fact, I’ll probably wish I had sprung for the more expensive set.

Independence Day 2012 Part II

So Sebastian said the following on Monday.

I think it’s the right of every American to celebrate our nation’s independence by blowing up a small chunk of it.

At which point I started laughing because honestly not everyone can effectively blow up a chunk of America.  The good news is, I am capable and have resources to do exactly that.  Not only do I have resources though, but the method of detonation provides a method of celebration endorsed by John Adams himself.

However, it must be said, please do not attempt to recreate any of this.  I am trained and experienced in mixing and handling explosives.  Just watch Caleb’s PSA.  Where ever he says “Gun”, replace it with “Guns or Explosives”.  

So without further ado, I give you the 4th of July, Boomershoot style.

I’m sure Mr. Adams would have approved.

As a note, it seems Sebastian knows this, but I still think my graphical display helps spread the joy.

*Sorry for the delayed post, Murphy hates me.  YouTube was constantly quitting mid-download.  I finally achieved success using IE.  I left to go to a BBQ and my computer went to sleep.  Thus it finally went up a day late.

Rule #1 Know of who you are talking to

I actually have numerous rule #1’s however the one I’m invoking today is know of who you are talking to, even more so of that of which you speak, especially if someone is offering advice to try to keep you out of jail.  Doubly so if they’re also trying to make sure that you realize it is quite possible you could be the cause of a wildfire.

So here’s the conversation for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about.  Yes feel free to laugh at the guy who thinks he’s educating Janelle about how explosives work.

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Aaron, let me enlighten you as to the background of my wife an I.  We are both staff for FlashTek.  Since you probably don’t know what that is, it’s run by Joe Huffman and is the company that is responsible for putting on Boomershoot every year.  Here’s the quick rundown from this year.

In one weekend we manufacture approximately 2000 lbs of explosives and are quite familiar with what they are, how they work, and the possible consequences of both their use and misuse.

We both spend a lot of time outside of preparation for the main event with experiments and development of the mixture, targets, and other things both pertaining to the technical aspects for the explosives as well as the event itself.

On the fire and environmental factors:

You do not actually need excess fuel in the form of gasoline to start a fire.  Actually the chemicals involved in the explosive can cause a fire on their own.  Boomerite actually can spontaneously combust when subjected to UV sunlight but your extensive knowledge of explosives has you obviously knowledgeable on that fact.  Do you know all the failure conditions for the materials involved in Tannerite to make your statement about fire not being an issue.  Further no reaction is 100%, actually far from it.  Some of the material from the explosion will not actually combust and be consumed in the reaction.  These materials can be problematic as it can react with organic material as it breaks down.  From a cursory inspection none of the materials immediately seem to be a fire danger but we thought the same thing about Boomerite.

The bottom line is that explosions are caused by combustion and to cause them we use materials that are prone to combust, quite quickly.  Yes reactive targets have been blamed for fires, including some recently here in the state of Washington.  While I’m not sure that the targets were the cause, it is certainly a possibility and not outside the realm of reality.  As a FYI when that happened, it was still relatively wet out here, still is actually.

However that doesn’t change that you are actually within the fire season for the State of Washington, as well as Idaho.  You can’t control the weather and just because things seem moist and safe doesn’t actually make it so.  Further there are already numerous wild fires including one in Colorado and another in Montana.  While further away, it should still serve as a reminder that caution and vigilance is important.

Be careful, be aware, have a plan to put it out, and make sure to turn the soil where you detonated the targets after you’re done to separate and disperse components.  But you, who knows so much about explosives were going to do that already.  Right?

Now on to my biggest point of contention.

This is Technically a Crime in Washington State

Washington is not exactly the friendliest of states with regards to explosives. As Janelle pointed out RCW 70.74 actually outlines many things that are prohibited regarding explosives. Including the fact that RCW 70.74.022 technically requires that any person mixing explosives have a license. While I fully and whole heartily sympathize and think it’s B.S. the law is still the law. It’s kind of funny that many of us whine about how congress critters ignore the law and then we turn around and do it ourselves. But that’s a level of irony for a whole different post.

But you’re not going to be in an urban area so how would you be caught I hear you cry.  I would hope to shout since discharging a firearm is illegal in most cities and townships.  But you should know you are not safe just because you’re in the middle of nowhere.  All it takes is for one person to see you and dislike what you’re doing and you’ll be in a world of trouble.  Joe had problems because someone who was near a quarry he had permission to be at called the sheriff and the ATF.  Joe learned of the situation after and an ATF Agent, not inspector (also known as the branch of Jack Booted Thugs), tracked him down and contacted him weeks after the incident.  Note Joe has a license to manufacture and handle explosives and permissions to be on the property.  Joe also knew inspectors on a first name basis with people in the same office as the agent.  Joe had every i dotted and t crossed and was legal and clear in what he was doing.

What cards do you have to play like that if someone doesn’t like what you’re doing?  You will be in violation 70.74.022 and if they attempt to classify the explosive as a firework you will be violating 70.77.495.  All it takes is some people trying to enjoy the wilderness that are disrupted by your activities and with a description of your vehicle you life can start rolling down hill.

FYI, I’m more familiar with how the legal system works that most people would ever like to be.  There is a phrase I often say that I am going to repeat here, it’s how prosecutors think:

It takes a good prosecutor to convict a guilty man, it takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent one.

Given the overall destruction of Mens Rea three isn’t much the nanny state wont outlaw.  Even given the fact that it’s nanny stateish I would be very careful about willfully or knowingly committing crimes, much less posting to Facebook about your intent and will to do so.  That’s just not smart or bright at all.  Especially since it can be brought out as evidence later showing you knew full well about the legalities involved.

Will you probably get away without a problem? Probably.  Does it have the potential to go south on you?  Most definitely.  Do you need to be prepared about the potential to cause a fire? Yes, even though it isn’t extremely likely it can happen.  It may not even happen while you’re there but a day or two later.

What the wife was saying and I’m repeating:

Be careful, know what you’re doing is dangerous and can have consequences that you’re not immediately aware of, and be prepared to deal with them because you are responsible.  You would think that common sense would work, but common sense isn’t always so common.  Instead of walking over people thinking you know more than them and just dismissing their comments for whatever reason, maybe you should just shut up and listen.  They might have a reason for what they’re saying.

Please Be Careful if You Do This…

So a coworker just bumped me this little incident through IM.

He drove upriver, investigated and with the help of Asotin County deputies and area landowners found the fire was started by someone shooting at an exploding target. The alleged fire-starter apparently fled the scene in such haste that he/she left behind an AK-47.

First up, we all know the identification abilities of both the press and law enforcement are how shall we say, lacking.  So I have a feeling it probably was not an AK-47.

Next up is why I’m writing this post.  If you’re going to play around with reactive targets, please be aware, be careful, and do it right.  Doing stupid stuff can cause the powers that be to outlaw things in an effort to stop stupidity.  They seem to think that laws will actually stop stupidity while those of us with functional brains know it just stops the smart and law abiding from enjoying freedom while making it a little more difficult for Darwin to do his job.

I’m not sure exactly why this fire started, there’s a couple different options.  First is that the bullet itself struck something and caused a spark resulting in a fire.  Not impossible, but not very likely unless they were shooting steel core surplus ammo.  I find this a possibility given the expeditious fleeing.

Laughably is the idea that the explosion itself set something on fire.  Combustion, and the heat that accompanies it, dissipates in milliseconds at most.  For the fireballs we create at Boomershoot we actually have to have road flares to cause the fuel to ignite because there is no heat remaining as the vapor cloud expands.  We have added things such as magnesium and other materials and this does help.  Assuming this was Tannerite, it is possible that some of the elements were still combusting when it hit the ground, I just am a bit skeptical.

Lastly they were attempting to be Ry and recreate the following.

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It is well known that creating a fireball like that can land you in an interesting position.  The heat radiated after combustion begins can easily cause surrounding plant life to ignite.  We do it prior to the fire season beginning as well for numerous reasons.  Trying to put out a fire as it rages across the field wouldn’t exactly be fun.  Think of the exploding toilet in 2008.

There is a second reason and that is Boomerite that is spread on the ground can actually cause a fire.  The KClO3 breaks down exothermically under UV and can ignite surrounding material.

But seriously, if you’re going to go out into the woods and create a fireball.  Be ready for some stuff to be lit on fire.  It is going to happen and you better be ready to fight it.  So if you’re going to do it please do the following:

  • Have fire extinguishers at the ready
  • Bring numerous friends to help extinguish the fire
  • Soak the surrounding area with water if it’s been dry over the previous couple days
  • Be ready with dirt buckets too
  • Have a plan to deal with fire

Seriously, it only takes one person to screw it up for the rest of us.  Please, don’t be that guy.

In Which I Forget a Recent Lesson (And some testing)

I still haven’t written up a couple posts from Boomershoot.  It hasn’t been as much laziness as I have had other things of interest distracting me.  From ideas, to projects, to wish lists(migrating the platform for the blog from Drupal)*.

There is one story from Boomershoot I do need to write up.  The lesson though evidently was skipped over yesterday during some testing with Ry and Joe

You see, after one of the boomers went boom, Ry had a new look.

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I made the mistake of standing just slightly further back than Ry, not thinking about the amount of rain and how close we were.  I had the same outfit afterwards.

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(Yes it was cold).

Eventually I will write up a post on what happened at Boomershoot, one of the other reasons for the delay is it will also contain a review of the eye protection I’m wearing.

On to testing:

So Joe and Ry had a couple project ideas they were working on and I offered to go out and help.  While they were working on mixing up explosives for some of the tests I worked on an idea Joe had for making primers go bang.

In this section, I verify that all that Hollywood crap is exactly that.  Ry had a setup to create an arch between two wires with AC.  It didn’t make the primer go boom.  Joe had another idea using DC to make the primers go boom.  Stuff got warm but still no joy.  Then by luck I inadvertently made the circuit pass through a piece of metal in the primer construction.  That turned into a light bulb filament.  I attached a primer to it, rigged it up and gave that a shot.  10 seconds after connecting the battery I hear a pop.  So heat, not electricity makes the primer go bang.

So they go bang, but not enough for solid computer control.  Well we still have the question of will boomerite go off?  Put it in the bag of boomerite, wire it all up and it was the most anti climatic thing I’ve ever seen.  The pop was so faint I could hear the conversation between Ry and Joe who were further away than the primer.

So primers were a bust, what about the lift experiments for getting a good fuel air mixture?  I have video for that, and everyone likes vide!

This is probably one of the more interesting stills from the testing.

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You can see the water vapor form the lift, this was with ground under the targets.  Ry also had some targets with bags of water underneath.  I’m not sure it really made a difference, though it’s hard to tell with a sample size of one. 

We have a new target type we’re seriously considering putting out for the shooters.  This year things were a bit more difficult that usual.  Target distribution didn’t end up in the amounts we would have preferred.  This resulted in a lot more 4 and 3 inch targets on the hill than we would have liked.  Believe me, I don’t like it when that goes wrong.  I made a nice quote of the day that made everyone chuckle but no one remembered to actually blog it… yet another story to be told about this year.

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The tubes though are 1.5 inches in diameter (inner) and 4 feet long.  We figure we can put them horizontal or vertical.  Either it will require precision on at least one axis to make a successful hit at distance.  Personally I think they’d just be fun.  Yeah you want to get a boomer, but if it was easy that wouldn’t be saying much now would it? 

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*I’m in the beginning stages of investigating moving from Drupal to WordPress.  The latest version of Drupal is lacking a bunch of the features I want that help me with my blogging.  I could write and build the features I need but I don’t blog as a forte into working on the computer.  I have enough other projects that the last thing I want to do is work maintaining my website.  The migration however has me a bit nervous mainly because I don’t want to break any incoming links for other sites to material I’ve written here.  I think I have a solution to the issue, but even then it will probably take me about 48 hours to rip apart the databases and port the content to WordPress.  I have a VM I am using as a testing area currently and I’m learning what exactly is going to have to happen and how to do it before I bite off more than I can chew.

Marketing Photo Of the Year

Sarah took the marketing photo of the year at Boomershoot.

Seriously, why are you still here?  Go now!