US Forrest Service bans exploding targets in four states


Lee’s note: Who didn’t see this coming? I like shooting Tannerite and other exploding targets. I hope the ban is rescinded after fire season.


Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Forest Service has banned exploding targets in northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and portions of South Dakota because of wildfire and public safety concerns.

Northern Region Forester Faye Krueger announced Tuesday the regional tanneriteclosure that immediately prohibits exploding targets on national forest lands.

Some target shooters use the exploding targets because they contain chemical components that mix when struck by a bullet and create a loud bang and big puff of smoke.

But the Forest Service said exploding targets the past two years have started at least 16 wildfires in Western states that cost $33 million to fight. Agency officials also have concerns that the explosions launch debris that can injure bystanders.

“Exploding targets pose a very real safety threat to visitors and our employees,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a statement.

The order includes all 12 national forests and grasslands in the agency’s Northern Region. The fine for using the banned targets is up to $5,000 and six months in jail.

The closure falls under national regulatory guidance for safeguarding natural resources and public safety, Forest Service spokesman Phil Sammon said.

“We want to eliminate as much as possible those human-caused wildfires,” Sammon said. “The fact that we have the closure order is an indication that (exploding targets) are being used more, getting to the point we need to take this step.”

Rick Gallia, one of the owners of Riverman Gun Works in Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho, said the shop sells about $100 a month worth of exploding targets at about $4 a target. “This is Idaho, everybody goes out on the forest and shoots,” he said.

But he also said it wasn’t a big part of his business.

“I’m not a big advocate of the stuff,” he said. “I’m amazed it’s legal anywhere. You can put a pound of that together and blow up a refrigerator. It’s powerful.”

Brandon Charvat, owner of Mandan Sporting Goods in Mandan, North Dakota, said it’s mostly used on private land in that state. He said for many it’s a novelty, but care needs to be taken.

“I’ve had customers of mine — they were blowing up washing machines and stuff like that,” he said. “There was a kid who got hit with flying debris, but they weren’t using it safely either.”

Brandon Westland of Bozeman Tactical in Bozeman, Montana, said his shop wouldn’t lose money because he doesn’t sell exploding targets.

“Ammo is expensive enough,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be purchasing any exploding targets.”

Exploding targets are already banned on the remaining Forest Service land in South Dakota from an order last year.

The southern half of Idaho is in the Forest Service’s Intermountain Region, where managers this week are considering a ban on exploding targets, spokeswoman Charity Parks said. The region also includes Utah, Nevada and portions of western Wyoming.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Pingback: US Forrest Service bans exploding targets in four states | The Gun Feed

  2. Since tannerite is not a flammable explosion these people are not too keen on science. It is a binary explosion that does not create flame. There is no gun powder in this stuff.

  3. Dena Woerner on

    Tannerite(r) exploding targets do not start fires. Below is a release sent out in 2013. Please do not use a photo of Tannerite(r) brand targets when you are discussing exploding targets that can start fires.

    The FIRST and BEST remains the SAFEST
    Tannerite® Brand Binary Targets the only to guarantee product will not start fires

    Pleasant Hills, OR (November 15, 2013) – Lightning strikes start fires. Reckless campfires start fires. Johnny-come-lately exploding targets start fires, too. Tannerite® brand binary exploding, center fire rifle targets DO NOT start fires.

    It doesn’t get any clearer than that…

    A question often asked is how with so much audible concussion and visible “smoke” is it possible for Tannerite® brand binary targets to be so safe? The answer is elementary: Tannerite® uses only the purest, highest quality raw materials and precise formulations to avoid the possibility of a fire on detonation. This, while other brands may be riddled with impurities and contain incendiary ingredients.

    So why would another brand of exploding targets introduce impurities that, as a consequence, could produce a fire? The answer is twofold. Firstly, it’s a legal issue. Tannerite® Sports, LLC holds a patent on the formulation and competitors may add other ingredients in an attempt to skirt the patent. The chemical composition and formulation of Tannerite® brand targets is exact and any attempts to modify this formulation can lead to fires and other safety concerns.

    The second reason is cost. Pure, premium ingredients are more expensive to produce. So while Tannerite® brand exploding targets spare nothing to be the safest, other makers trim costs by marginalizing their product while putting you, the shooter, at greater risk.

    They make more money. You take on the peril of being a fire starter.

    Tannerite® brand exploding targets are composed of a catalyst (pyrotechnic grade aluminum powder) and fuel (explosives grade ammonium nitrate) that when mixed, and struck by a bullet traveling no less than 2,000 FPS, detonate on impact. A .223 caliber will provide the minimum energy required to initiate the chemical reaction – 22’s won’t do it, nor will a shotgun, handgun or pellet gun…

    Products of the explosion are another consideration. What’s in all that sound and fury? It’s pretty straightforward when you’re talking about Tannerite® brand exploding targets. You end up with the simplest, nonflammable products: nitrogen, water, and small amounts of byproducts that will not start a fire. Now other brands that include marginal materials – even black powder – can produce the most dangerous of byproducts: FIRE!

    If you are a serious hunter, marksman or tactical firearms enthusiast – buy ours. If you want the adrenaline rush of being a potential-pyromaniac, buy theirs.

    Make sure the fire station is close, though. And don’t forget the marshmallows.

    ABOUT Tannerite®
    Tannerite® brand targets employ a binary explosive used as a shot indicator for long-range firearms practice and training. Tannerite® brand target detonations occur at a very high velocity, producing a large explosion and a cloud of water vapor. Small caliber rim-fire or slow moving pistol ammunition will not initiate a detonation.

    In use, a long-range rifle shooter places Tannerite® targets downrange, retreats to his firing position, and fires. The shooter does not have to walk down range to see if the target has been hit, as the Tannerite® will detonate and serve as an indicator.

    Since the two components that make up Tannerite® targets are not explosive until mixed, they can legally be purchased in the USA without a license. Tannerite® targets are exceptionally stable when subjected to less severe forces such as a hammer blow or being dropped and they cannot be initiated by any kind of flame or electricity.

    Tannerite® is the registered trademark for Tannerite® brand targets and binary exploding rifle targets are a patented invention by Daniel J. Tanner.

  4. Tannerite would be OK if it was used with respect to other back country users such as hikers and mountain bikers.It is not and should be banned from public places.
    I was hiking with my wife and two dogs on a popular Forest Service trail in Colorado. We arrived unexpectedly on a scene where tannerite was being used. First we were exposed to high velocity fire from an assault rifle and then the subsequent deafening explosion.We were within 150 yards from that. We had no idea what was going on.There were no warning signs and we were not wearing ear plugs, OBVIOUSLY.The dogs went crazy and ran off, we were left with severe ear ache for days afterwards.
    Having “fun” at other people’s expense is immature.Immature people should be nowhere near explosives of any type. A 22 year old shooter recently killed his 8 year old cousin because he thought stuffing tannerite into a fridge was a good way to have “fun”. It definitely turned out to be at someone else’s expense.
    I should have a right to defend my hearing as well as my life. The decibel level of tannerite is around 130-140 decibels like a jet engine at 100′ . Pain begins at 125 db and short term exposure to 140 db can cause permanent damage to the ears.If idiots are allowed to use a dangerous product like tannerite then it should be banned. There are enough idiots “out there” to sink an aircraft carrier.

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