“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,” the AP reports. “Northern Region Forester Faye Krueger announced Tuesday the regional closure that immediately prohibits exploding targets on national forest lands. 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 exploding target ban is spreading like wildfire . . .

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 . . .

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

Citing how many fires started by exploding targets? Referring to how many visitors (excluding Darwin Award candidates) and employees hurt by exploding targets? Hey, if it saves one tree . . . [h/t TP]

79 Responses to U.S. Forest Service Bans Exploding Targets

    • Yes it does. Fish DO live in these lakes, streams and ponds. I say quit screwing with the environment once and for all. No sane person has any need to use explosive targets or any other similar devices to exercise their 2A rights. I’m a very pro 2A gun owner and activist, but I am a VERY Green pro 2A gun owner and activist who hapens to be against needless destruction, cruelty and disturbance of the peace. A peace nature has every right to enjoy just as mankind does. Wildlife has already been screwed over a bazillions times and more. It’s time to end it right here right now.

      • I think you and I just became best friends. You took the words right out of my mouth! Happy to see a like-minded reader of TTAG in the comments.

      • I don’t need or expect to use these on gov’t property, but I’ll thank you for not questioning my sanity for using them on my own private property.*

        *no animals were harmed in the writing of the above post, or by my tannerite for that matter.

        • Anything short of a nuclear detonation on your own property is ok by me, as long as you don’ manage to ignite my property in the process or shatter my windows or scare my dog too badly.

          This post is not about using Tannerite on private property though.

      • I am so tired of going to public shooting lands to see them littered with glass, shotgun shells, steel cases, car parts, and cans. These goofs have made a habit of shitting where they eat.

      • Exploding targets using ammonium nitrate do not cause fires period. If you add certain hard to find chemicals, they may start a fire; but that is illegal. Using these targets on private land or designated public lands is legal. Using “green” terminology to ban something is unreasonable since the byproducts are eco-friendly. Try banning volcanos, thunder and other natural noise makers and leave us to our pleasures.

    • Anybody in here spit on a lady sitting in a wheel chair at the Indianapolis airport a few days ago?

      • It was me! I did not spit on the lady who did not have someone spit on her after not seeing her speak on the concourse televisions. Also, for the sake of full disclosure every other TTAG poster were my accomplices in not spitting on the non-spit on lady. We’re all not very sorry for not spitting on she-who-was-not-spit-upon.

        I hope this confession clears the air, or not.

  1. I think that if anyone gets enough Tannerite together to do this, the National Forest Service should become concerned.

    I hear this was what happened when some day-hikers had some fun with 13,000 pounds of the stuff:

  2. Is there even proof that tannerite and such can cause fires?

    Or is it like California banning lead shot because of condors with no scientific basis?

    • I’m sure there is absolutely no possibility that somebody who decides to light off 250lbs of tannerite would ever cause any kind of heat, burning embers, or dry tinder catching on fire and blown hundreds of feet around the explosion would ever cause any sort of fire.

      Nah, it could never happen.

      It’s even more fun when you set it off in a large five gallon bucket of diesel fuel and gasoline.

      • Ever used tannerite? The chemical reaction creates water vapor and everything gets soaked around it, its not going to start a fire anywhere. Don’t let facts get in the way of your little rant there though.

        • Yep, Paul’s never been one to let facts get in the way of his rants….

        • Reading…it’s fundamental.

          Have you guys ever seen what twenty pounds of tannerite detonated on top of a big old bucket of gasoline does? I have and unless the crater and wide scorched blast zone was merely a figment of my imagination…I’d say, yes, you can start a very nice fire in a national forest with a lot of dry kindling laying around.

          But of course, we all know that nobody would ever possibly use it that way. No. That would never happen.

        • True, but even Tannerite says on it’s web sites that competing products DO start fires. Another case of fools screwing up a good thing for everyone.

      • Not sure about forest fires, but people have just been doing itiotic stuff. One location in my area got shut down cause idiots were dumping stuff all over. They shot down several trees. I can see having tannerite just accelerating the process of destruction. I’m not a tree hugger, but come on, don’t senselessly vandalize our shooting areas. That just leads to them getting closed down.

    • Then why don’t they cite public property damage as the reason?

      It certainly seems like it would be a valid enough reason.

      • “They” are fearful that citizens may use it to fend off a government gone mad. That is the one and only reason to ban anything “they” don’t like. If “they” wanted to protect us, why do “they” allow open borders….hmmmm?

  3. You guys really have issue with the fact that the forest service would prefer you not detonate explosives in the forests they are charged with preserving?

  4. Tannerite falls under the fireworks category so it has always been banned from federal land. Sounds like they are increasing penalties.

    Dunno about tannerite, but fireworks and yes, target shooting cause range and forest fires every summer here in Arizona. I should know, I used to put them out.

    • Tannerite is not inherently flammable. It is a mix of metals, so if you’re a certain kind of special (US Forest Service) and shoot bimetal ammo at a metal target with a steel trap behind it, with a thick pad of pine needles under it, during a draught, you do have sparks to contend with.

  5. “very real threat”… Bullsh!t. Show me one article of proof that binary targets are a hazard – and not the BS steel trap bit, which had all kinds of stupid written on it (Steel jacket, steel trap, non spalling steel at that, during a drought, etc.)

  6. How does shooting on forest service property work anyway? Can anyone just walk out into a forest reserve and just start shooting or do you need to be in a special area at a special time? I guess i always assumed you couldn’t shoot anything let alone exploding targets.

    • Obviously, the national parks exist for the purpose of allowing anyone with explosives and firearms to blow anything up they want, anywhere they want, and to shoot at anything they want, any time they want.

      That’s how we make sure that all of us can enjoy the areas of our nation set aside to preserve the wonders of nature.

      Dontcha’ know?

      • National Parks are managed by the US National Park Service. National Forests are managed by the US Forest Service. Other federal lands that don’t fall into that category are run by our 1A-loving buddies over at the BLM. And lastly, the BIA runs the lands that are considered reservations. Individual states also have land management agencies that are for state-run land. Everyone has a different set of rules, but the USFS is pretty lenient when it comes to target shooting. These types of targets mentioned in the article, steel core ammo, and stuff like dragon’s breath have been known to start wildland fires. I’ve worked on several.

    • Serious answer: it depends on the state you live in. In most western states, as far as I know — in Utah, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon I know for sure — target shooting is legal by default on National Forest land and also on state-owned public land.

      There are specific places, such as state and national parks, campgrounds, etc., where shooting isn’t allowed, but for the most part all you need to do is find an unoccupied place with a safe backstop and you’re good to go.

    • There’s a spot I like where there is a bulldozer maintained sand berm. Having worked for the ranger station that controls the area, they encourage areas like that in order to keep as many shooters as possible in a known safe area. Plus, it keeps the guys sighting in during deer season away from the active hunters.

      Remember that national parks are under the jurisdiction of the Parks Service, which belongs to the Department of the Interior, and the FS falls under the Department of Agriculture (and the two rarely get along).

  7. I 100% agree with this decision. You know, you can be a 2A supporter and not reject every piece of regulation with knee-jerk hysteria. Not using exploding targets takes ZERO rights away from exercising of the 2A, and may well protect a lot of land, property, and lives. Shoot cans and buy a pair of truck nutz if you have to show off how rad you are.

  8. Explosives are fun…No place for them inthe forest recreationaly.

    Funny how I care more about animals than most people.

      • You sure? I mean, I know I ain’t the poster child of sanity but I ain’t crazy either. Just had very many bad experiences with people, less so with animals and the environment.

  9. I mean, while we are at it, we all have the right to stroll into our local Chipotle’s with our AKs in low ready and order our favorite burrito.

    And who could possibly object?

    We are ‘Mericans!

  10. I wonder why the guy in the video on this post had his bipod out when he took his shot?

    Maybe he knew that he may have to operate operationally against any angry fish, and going prone would help him pick them off more easily?

  11. Simple fire triangle people. Heat + fuel + oxygen = fire. The fact that they don’t cite examples is irrelevant. Campfires are banned in many places because they can and have started wildfires, and they don’t disperse potential ignition material over a large area. This is a kneejerk reaction.

  12. Let’s assume for a moment that exploding targets do pose a forest fire risk. It sounds reasonable to me, but then again, lots of things superficially sound reasonable until compared to the facts. But let’s just suppose for a minute it’s real. Does the Forest Service’s ban apply only to bona fide forests susceptible to such a risk?

    Their name reads forests, but their website’s “About Us” section include grasslands as part of their mission. A little further down, and the mandate spreads to “and associated lands.” That’s one elastic bailiwick! And that’s even before playing games with words. I remember in the 1980s when protecting the rain forests was all the rage. Rain forests? Do you mean jungles? Then in the 1990s, wetlands became the terra cause celebre. Wetlands? Do you mean swamps? I predict the next enviro-euphemism will be something like arctic flatlands. Wait, do you mean frozen wasteland? Because if you want to trick the public, you need to start with a cute name that conjures the appropriate optics. It’s for the wetlands! Won’t someone please think of the wetlands?!

    If the forest service’s property under authority includes vast expanses that bear no resemblance whatsoever to Bambi’s playground, but look more like rugged steppes ideal for recreational sport shooting of all flavors, then this regulation could be just the latest to infringe on Americans’ right to enjoy their national property.

    • So you failed science class, thanks for playing. Rain forests are often surrounded by jungle but they are not the same thing. All swamps are wetlands but all wetlands are not swamps. Arctic tundra is not wasteland though it is frozen part of the year. It isn’t semantics, it’s science. Try it sometime.

      • Its not necessarily science, Bill.

        Wetlands, as you say, are not exclusively swamps… as (unscientifically) defined by the NGO’s of the UN.

        Take for example the testimony of this blueberry farmer in NJ who is no longer allowed to develop his farm (by owning a few chickens) because his farm is arbitrarily considered a wetland…

        “…As far as I can tell, the farm is considered an inland wetland bog, precisely because the vegetation is dominated by “blueberries”. No there’s a surprise! Wetlands include lands with poorly drained or very poorly drained soils. These areas have very high water tables (at least seasonally), where the water table is often less than 18″ from the surface.

        The Management Plan goes further. It contains special provisions with regard to agricultural and horticultural uses in wetlands. It permits horticulture activities related to native Pineland species, and blueberry and cranberry agriculture. It also allows beekeeping. And that’s it! No other agricultural uses are permitted.” http://www.thebackyardprovider.com/2012/04/26/farming-and-food-tyranny-in-the-land-of-no/

        In this case, and many others, its statist politics, not science. Read up on it sometime.

      • There’s no need for that attitude, Bill, especially when you know full well you’d never pull that stunt face to face.

        Aside from that, Toby brought the smackdown on you much better than I could, anyway. So I guess we’re done now.

    • +1. When I read the headline, the first thing I thought was that Tannerite had become the (Agenda 21) excuse the FS needed to eliminate a market available item that was scary… To control freaks like (insert acronym of favorite bureaucratic agency here). I never used it before, but it looks kinda fun

      BTW, my hat is not tinfoil. Its aluminum foil.

  13. I think this law is completely unnecessary. It a typical government bullsh!t. If the law was actually needed, it would be simple to justify with injuries and fires. Sure, there are injuries. Life goes on. Charge those who are negligent and destructive just like with anything else, and leave responsible people the hell alone.

    Every time a blanket ban is added, freedom is lost. We’ve lost enough freedom already. Punish idiots. Punish negligence. Don’t punish those who aren’t hurting anyone or causing unnecessary destruction. Animals will be just fine. They’re tougher than 99% of humans.

    • Doesn’t do much good simply to “punish” the guy who manages to touch off a wildfire in a national forest. Nobody has the “freedom” to destroy public property.

    • If Tannerite was the only exploding target on the market, you’d be right about the law not being needed. The problem is there is a lot of crap products that do start fires. And there are a lot of idiots in the gun world…see Chipotle twins for an example. Wildfires really suck. It isn’t a violation of your rights to prevent them.

  14. We banned them at our range not because of the fire risk, but because of the stupidity of people in general. People of the gun are no smarter than anyone else.

    We were worried that some idiot would get a 20# jug of tannerite in his christmas stocking and blow it up 15 feet away from the concrete shooting pad.

    That and it rattled peoples china cabinets 2 miles away….we want to be good neighbors.

  15. It’s heartening to see how many people here actually care about stewardship. Tip of the hat to TTAG readers for not insisting on starting forest fires.

  16. I don’t shoot tannerite on public property so I don’t give a ****, but blanket bans are rarely a good thing and/or well-thought-out.

    I have, however, used it on private property on New Years Eve and July 4th.

    You should’ve seen the havoc it wreaked on all those trees chock full of spotted owls. I’m pretty sure it also vaporized an entire pond full of snail darters and killed the last tasmanian tiger.

  17. I’m sorry but this makes perfect sense, particularly (but not exclusively) during wildfire season. If you want to blow stuff up, use a range or private property.

  18. If the USFS wants to err on the side of caution by banning Tannerite to save Smokey Bear’s furry ass, I’m OK with that. When the USFS bans shooting, which it has done before, then I get pissed.

    So far, it’s just “exploding targets.” We will see what comes next.

  19. Another thing you have to remember is that much of the west is in a severe drought condition, and fires spread exceedingly rapidly when started. All it takes is one little spark to set one off, whether it is a ricochet or an explosion, whether by Tannerite or one of its competitors. Me personally, I wouldn’t want to be the one causing it.

    And for us California internees, I recall that the San Diego DA has concluded that Tannerite is an illegal binary explosive under the Penal Code. Which is not surprising, given that a soda bottle bomb is specifically banned as an illegal explosive device (a felony at that).

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

    That is utter and complete nonsense. Tannerite will not explode unless a bullet travelling in excess of 2,000 fps hits it. I imagine someone could also detonate it with some sort of blasting cap or equivalent. Either way, Tannerite is not going to explode unless someone intentionally detonates it.

    The only way that Tannerite could “pose a very real safety threat to visitors and … employees” is if someone purposely targets visitors and employees. And if that is the case, a ban (words on paper) are not going to stop that someone.

  21. I don’t see a big problem. This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with 2A RIGHTS. Just not burning the west during a severe drought. Which seems to be be getting a lot worse. What do I know- we had 2″ of rain, 60mph wind & 1″ hail last night.

  22. I’ll keep using tannerite. I’m a big boom junkie.
    We tend to play it safe. We blow up water jugs. Or buckets. Usually after it’s been raining. Which is almost always.

  23. Good thing I only use Tannerite on private land. The Federal Government owns the land in question, they can dictate what is and isn’t allowed on their own land.

    • Except that the federal government is supposed to be our servants. They are supposed to do what we say.
      NOT dictate to us.

      And FWIW, the video looks to be shot at a private irrigation pond.

    • i envy people with the private land to do this. every now and then i contemplate buying 40 acres of nothing upstate….

      • I know a guy that bought 80 acres up by Dewey. Pretty cheap. It’s far enough out of Prescott to be low cost, but close enough to go to Costco if you need to stock up on anything. I think he has the right idea.

  24. The forest service is most likely banning it to avoid an rock slide/avalanche situation, in addition to preventing tree damage and the splinters that would result. That and the trend of Tannerite videos on youtube with people using 50lbs of the stuff to blow up old cars and trailers.

  25. Much of the west is a tinderbox, it’s the third drought year in California, the wilderness fire people never stood down this winter in some areas, and everyone is staffing up early.

    So I don’t blame them for trying to minimize fire risks but still letting people enjoy the wild.

    It’s going to be a long, hot summer.

  26. Our local fire was reported at 4:15 pm Mon. It was 10 acres Mon evening. Wed morning it hit 21,000 acres. Looks like a campfire. This was on the Kenai Nat’l Moose Range, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. The fire from 2007 in a similar area was started by a fellow sharpening a chainsaw near his cabin. There are simply places and times where it is prudent not to do anything that could cause a fire.
    Tannerite says some competitors are a danger. Banning things that could be/are a danger is not unreasonable.
    Also understand that winter snow pretty much closes most Western forest lands, and you have to buy a SnoPark pass to even park. Summer and fall tends to high fire danger and afternoon lightning storms.

    If you crave things that go BANG in the west, use a gravel pit. Rock does not burn well.

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