A Comprehensive Guide on How to Make Exploding Targets

So you are a shooter but are perhaps looking for some extra zing in your target practice. Fed up of just shooting targets that just stand there and look at you at 30 yards wondering whether you have hit or missed? Well, I've got a good idea which should put give you an extra bang for your buck with this guide on how to make exploding targets

The primary purpose of an exploding target is that you can see whether you have hit your target or not without having to walk all the way to the target.

Exploding targets (also known as ‘binary’ targets) are not a new concept and are commercially available at a cost. These targets use ‘tannerite,' an explosive powder also available separately. However, once you read what I have to say here, you will realize how much cheaper it is to make your exploding targets. And it is not complicated either.

A word of caution before actually getting into the subject, as you will be producing explosives, you need to exercise extreme caution and follow the instructions carefully. Also, you should be aware that once you prepare the explosive mixture, it should be used at the site, as it’s illegal to store or transport it.


What You Will Need

Most of the items are readily available on the open market:

  •  Ammonium Nitrate (95%)
  • Aluminum powder (5%)
  • Weighing Scale
  • Spoons for handling powders – 2
  • Anti-static mixing bag (self-sealing)
  • Air-tight containers
  • Rubber Hand Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Empty plastic containers
  • Two-sided tape
  • Scissors for cutting the two-sided tape
  • Dust Mask

Sourcing Your Supplies

You can get ammonium nitrate from a garden supply store. Aluminum powder is readily available on the internet, and you can buy it from a source like eBay for as little as $8.00 a pound. If you are a bit enterprising you can even make your aluminum powder which will turn out cheaper in the long run, but you will have to enhance your setup a bit – a blender and a ball mill being the main additions.

You will find rubber hand gloves, and goggles at a safety store and you can procure the remaining items at your local hardware store. You can buy the scissors and one-sided tape from any stationery store.

Procedure To Follow

There are two ways that you can use exploding targets. One way is to use small, round plastic containers filled with explosive powder and stuck with two-sided tape at different positions on a regular target. They need to be small and light, probably sufficient to hold about 20 to 30 grams of powder.

The other way is to use a larger plastic container filled with the explosive powder and shoot directly. In this method you will not need to use two-sided tape.

In the procedure below, we will assume that the targets we will use the first method that is sticking plastic containers onto the target.

  • 1. Weigh 95 grams of ammonium nitrate powder on the weighing scale.
  • 2. Open the mixing bag and fill it with the ammonium nitrate powder
  • 3. Now weigh 5 grams of aluminum powder.
  • 4. Add the aluminum powder to the bag
  • 5. Seal the bag tightly and mix the two powders by gently shaking the bag until the mixture is a single color
  • 6. Use your scissors to cut the two-sided tape into small squares
  • 7. Stick one side of each square of two-sided tape to the bottom of the plastic containers
  • 8. Now open the containers and gently fill each one with closely-packed powder
  • 9. Remove the cover from the two-sided tape and stick each container on the target along the concentric circles of the target
  • 10. Your exploding targets are now ready to use

Tip: For quantities more than 100 grams, just multiply the required amount with the number of times more required for each powder. So for example, if you want 5 times more the quantity, just use 500 grams of ammonium nitrate and 25 grams of aluminum powder.

Safety Precautions

Target Practice

You may find this section a bit tedious but trust me; it is what will keep you safe throughout the whole process. You must bear in mind at all times that once mixed, the powder is extremely sensitive and can explode unexpectedly if not handled with care. So just follow these simple precaution to have an enjoyable and safe experience with exploding targets:

  • Always carry the two powders separately and only mix them together when you are at the shooting site
  • While handling the material and shooting wear safety goggles
  • Use ear protection while shooting at the targets
  • While handling the powders, use a dust mask as inhaling them can be hazardous
  • Choose a remote and open area for your target practice
  • Ensure adequate distance between you and the target – maintain at least 30 yards for the smallest one
  • Check the proximity of the nearest neighbors – you don't want to get booked for disturbing the peace!
  • Make sure that you place the targets in a location free from flammable material like dried grass, paper and so on
  • Never position the target within an object or at a location where shrapnel could get produced
  • Verify the legal aspect of using exploding targets. The laws governing their use may vary from one state to the other

You Are Now Ready To Go!

Exploding targets add a new and exciting dimension to target practice. If you use these in a responsible manner, you can have a fun time and hone your shooting skills at the same time. As you can see, we have shown you how to make your exploding targets which will cost you a fraction of the cost of commercially available ones.

If you are more resourceful and can procure the required equipment, you can even produce your powders. Even if you buy these powders and use them to make your exploding targets, you will still end up saving a whole load of money.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and that you will be able to make your exploding targets. Please add your comments, questions or feedback in the section below, and we’ll get back to you.

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