Explosive shooting targets are causing wildfires, being used illegally

Exploding shooting targets that are used improperly or irresponsibly can be dangerous, deadly and cause major destruction.

The products, sometimes referred to as Tannerite, have the attention and concern of local police and federal agencies.  

After airing a story about the dangers of exploding targets a few weeks ago, the ABC15 Investigators have learned an Arizona sheriff’s office has open investigations for illegal use of the targets and that officials have banned them on federal land.  

Federal Concerns

Last year, the FBI sent out a warning that exploding targets could create homemade bombs.

The ATF also told ABC15 that they are keeping a close eye on the targets.

“On a scale of one to ten of how easy it is to obtain, it’s a 10 – obviously,” said Tony May, a Phoenix ATF explosives expert. “You can buy it anywhere.”

May says there are virtually no regulations for exploding targets, which are mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder.

The US Forest Servce has banned the targets in more than a handful of western states, including Arizona. It’s because they have caused almost two dozen wildfires in the past few years.

Those fires have cost $33 million to fight, officials said.

Local Cases

The Pima County Sheriff’s Office said their deputies have three open investigations for the possible illegal use of the products.

In one of those cases, PCSO Bomb Squad Commander Sgt. Chris Rogers said the targets were incorporated into an improvised explosive device.

Rogers declined to further discuss the cases because they are still under investigation.


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