Several people in the Gratis area have reported hearing loud “booms” over the Thanksgiving weekend, but Walton County Fire Rescue officials say it was more than likely just Tannerite target shooting.
“After thoroughly checking the area where the ‘booms’ were reported, and not finding a source, that is what it was deemed as causing them,” said WCFR Battalion Chief Craig League.
Tannerite is the brand name of a binary explosive marketed primarily for making exploding targets for firearms practice. In March last year, a Tannerite accident put Walton County on the map nationally when a Walton County man lost his leg below the knee. He shot at an old lawn mower loaded with 3 pounds of Tannerite. The damage to his leg occurred when the bullet hit the lawn mower, causing it to explode.
“It is a patented combination of ammonium nitrate (an oxidizer) and aluminium powder (a fuel) that is supplied as two separate powders that are mixed and shaken to produce an explosive,” League said at the time. He added it it is relatively stable when subjected to a lesser force than a high-velocity bullet. It is not flammable and because it is sold as two separate powders, it can be sold without restrictions. League said it has become popular and is sold in many outdoor supply stores such as Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain to name a few.
League did caution, however, that the more of the product you mix together and shoot, the bigger and louder the explosion, making it quite dangerous for amateur use. It is often responsible for calls to authorities, but not so much for injury as it is for the loud booms. He said at the time of last year’s incident, that it was believed to be the only serious injury associated with Tannerite ever reported in Walton County. However, it is quite common for authorities to run calls for what turns out to be Tannerite target shooting. Officials say if something goes boom out in Gratis or other more rural areas of Walton County, chances are good that it is just someone using Tannerite in their target practice.