The issue of exploding targets is receiving more attention as additional evidence is revealed about fires started by these devices. We have written about them a number of times, and now the Wenatchee World has called attention to the issue today in an article by KC Mehaffey. You may recognize some of the names in this excerpt from the article. (Update: a new pay wall may prevent you from viewing the article at that web site. The San Francisco Chronicle also has it, after the story was picked up by the AP.)
…Kelsey Hilderbrand, owner of High Mountain Hunting Supply in Wenatchee, said he’s only familiar with Tannerite’s exploding targets. which he sells at his store for between $4.95 and $9 apiece, depending on the size. “We sell a lot of them. They’re very popular, and they’re a lot of fun,” he said. Hilderbrand said he’s used them a lot, using a haystack as a backdrop, and the targets have never started a fire.
“They are a gaseous explosion,” he said, “They are not a heat-related explosion, so there’s no way to have an ignition-based system.”
“There’s no question they start fires,” said Bill Gabbert, a former wildland firefighter and fire investigator in Southern California who now produces the online magazine, Wildfire Today.
Gabbert said he found 23 wildfires ignited by exploding target shooters last summer just by searching the Internet. He said he believes they are a growing danger because more and more people are starting to use them.
“It’s just become so popular. If you search on YouTube, you’ll see dozens or hundreds of videos,” he said.
But even if some people think they are fun, Gabbert says exploding targets are nothing to play around with. His website links to a newscast in which a car is demolished by detonating exploding targets.
“I think we need to figure out a way to ban the use of exploding targets,” he said, adding, “I’m convinced they are too dangerous to use.”
John Maclean — author of several books on fatal wildfires including one on the 2001 Thirtymile Fire near Winthrop — said he’s concerned about the danger that exploding targets pose to firefighters.
I am a gun owner, hunter, was on an NCAA varsity Rifle Team in college, and was a member of the NRA before they transmogrified, adopting ridiculous policies. My home is protected by Glock and several other brands. Target shooting is fine as long as it is done safely and does not start fires, damage the environment, or leave behind trash. But the use of these explosive devices during the 2012 fire season has proven that they are incendiary, and too many people have started fires by using them.