Tannerite Explosions in West Lubbock Alarm Residents

Why Lubbock Bomb Squad Says to "Not Panic"

LUBBOCK, TX - Last week, concerned viewers reached out to the station reporting of 'loud booms' and explosions out of the West Lubbock area.

The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad was also contacted. They were able to determine that the series of explosion sounds were a result of residents shooting Tannerite out at their property.

Tannerite is a binary explosive that many shooters use to amplify their recreational target practice. It is composed of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. When a bullet hits Tannerite at a high velocity, it causes a chemical reaction that results in a large water vapor cloud along with a loud explosion. 

For some the noise is unsettling, for others it’s the sound of a good time.

“Tannerite is just something else for people to enjoy shooting," said Jerry Sanders, a range safety officer and supervisor of the Lubbock Shooting Complex range. He wants to remind others that you cannot shoot Tannerite at a gun range, the best place to do so is on private property. “It makes a big boom. You do need to be a safe distance away from it though, just because of the shock wave of it. If you’re taking precaution, there shouldn’t be any danger or property damage.”

This form of target practice is legal, and safe if done properly. You can purchase Tannerite and nearly any firearm store.

“A lot of guys use it to signify that hey, they've hit their target they're shooting from a long ways, they can hear it. So it's pretty neat,” said J.D. Clay, the retail manager of Sharp Shooters Knife & Gun, who says he and his friends have been using Tannerite since they were teens.

Clay advises that if you are going to shoot using Tannerite, to do so at least 100 yards away from your target.

Regardless of where you are, what type of shooting you are doing or firearm you are using, it is important to always practice safe shooting.

If you live out in the country and hear explosions, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Regional Bomb Squad advises you to not panic, as it is most likely a Tannerite explosion. These explosions tend to also be louder in the evening versus the earlier parts of the day.

“Explosives are very interesting. A pound of explosives on a clear, sunny day is going to react with the atmosphere different than it will on a cloudy day, when there's high humidity, high pressure, even cloud cover will affect it,” said Sgt. Chris Eppler, Commander of the Lubbock Regional Bomb Squad. “Normally, whenever you have cloud cover, high humidity, high barometric pressure, it intensifies the sound. It causes that sound wave to travel out further, so temperature can play a big effect on the sound of it.”

And while he wants to remind residents who live out in the country to not panic should they hear these explosions, if there is ever speculation that it could be something else, he encourages making the call to dispatch. Meanwhile, if you are going to shoot Tannerite out at your property and you know if you have neighbors somewhat nearby, it is also important to of course practice safe shooting, as well as some ‘housekeeping.’

“If you’re going to shoot Tannerite, by all means, notify your neighbors,” said Sgt. Eppler. “Let them know what's going on, that way you don't alarm them. You can even notify dispatch and let them know ‘hey, we're shooting Tannerite out in this area in case you get any calls.’” 


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