A Georgia man lost his leg after shooting a broken-down riding lawnmower packed with explosive targets. He was making a video to show off the explosion, but he was too close to the target and the resulting shrapnel took out his left leg below the knee.
Exploding or reacting targets provide an instant highly-visual confirmation that a shooter hit the target at longer ranges. They are popular with recreational shooters across the country and are safe to use from a distance in small quantities.
However, a few popular Internet celebs have produced videos showing off the detonation of much larger amounts of reactionary material, leading others to follow in their footsteps. This video shows just how dangerous explosives are when used at close ranges. They can also pose a threat when they’re used to destroy targets instead of being used as a signal.
“We get a lot of calls about Tannerite,” said local Sheriff Joe Chapman to 11Alive News. “It can be extremely dangerous if it is not used correctly.”
David Pressley, the shooter and casualty aged 32, reportedly used 3 pounds of Tannerite to blow up the mower. Tannerite is one of the more popular brands of reactive target makers and the manufacturer recommends that shooters use no more than half a pound of target material per target.
Pressley’s friends were able to tourniquet his leg and drive him to meet first responders at a nearby location. Rescuers airlifted him to a hospital in Atlanta.
This is a sadly predictable result of using explosive targets at close ranges and in large quantities. Exploding targets are made by mixing aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate. They can only be set off by high-velocity projectiles such as a bullet fired from a rifle or carbine.
Most people use these targets responsibly and have a lot of fun in the process. However, precautions must be taken at all times when using any explosives or people can be badly hurt. It’s clear from this video that the shooter and the cameraman and anyone nearby could have suffered much worse.
Tannerite and other reactionary targets are completely legal in most states for recreational shooting. Police have not pressed charges against Pressley or his crew.
Reactionary targets have been blamed for not only causing injuries but sparking fires as well. While some brands, including Tannerite, are considered unlikely to start fires, some types of reactive targets have been linked to wildfires just the same. Because of this, the use of reactionary targets is prohibited on federal lands when a Special Fire Order is in effect.
(Editor’s note: The improper use of Tannerite or any other potentially explosive material can and will put you on the ATF’s radar. An ATF Fact Sheet on Illegal Explosives Devices clearly states, “under federal explosives law it is illegal to engage in the business of manufacturing explosives without a license, to improperly store explosives, to sell or distribute explosives to any person who does not hold an ATF license or permit, to receive explosives without a license or permit, or to transport explosives materials without a license or permit.”
While this information was in reference to M-80s and M-100s, when one packs a lawnmower with Tannerite they are, in effect, creating a pipe bomb! The ATF also states, “Each year ATF investigates explosives accidents involving the manufacture of explosive devices such as these. These accidents often result in serious injury to or death of person(s) and extensive damage to property. ATF cautions the public against handling suspected illegal explosive devices and urges everyone to report the manufacture or sale of such devices to their local ATF office or by calling ATF’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662).”
Bottom line: Don’t misuse Tannerite — because you’ll ruin it for the rest of us. Don’t be stupid — because you’ll injure yourself or, worse, get yourself killed. And don’t break the law — because you’ll potentially lose your right to keep and bear arms.)