Loud explosions at random times have been frightening residents in the town of Middlebrook, Virginia. Local resident Lynn Norley described to the News Leader how she started hearing the sounds on her farm in the early afternoon and evening. She said that her family thought it was dynamite or something, and that they could feel the concussion of the blast. She feared they were bombs or terrorist attacks. The sounds also frightened horses, and the dogs were running for cover.
According to Chief Operational Officer Jason Shultz of the Middlebrook Fire Department, an exploding target called Tannerite was the source of the loud sounds. Hunters and people doing target practice have started using the exploding targets to get an extra adrenaline rush. Shultz urged anyone who planned to use Tannerite or a similar explosive target to call the Emergency Communications Center, so that emergency responders would be aware of the situation.
The owner of a local sport shop that sells Tannerite and other exploding targets said that it sounds like a very loud firework. Kevin Harris of Dominion Outdoors explained how many factors can affect the sound of the explosion.
Tannerite is composed of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. The two chemicals are shipped separately and then combined by the end users. Mixing and shaking the two compounds causes an explosive material that is relatively stable unless it is detonated with a high-velocity shot. Depending on how they are used, explosive targets such as Tannerite can give off dust clouds or smoke and make a lot of noise.
While knowing that exploding targets can be the source of the disturbing sounds, Officer Shultz still encourages residents to call 911 if they hear explosive sounds that concern them.