Explosions, trash discarded in open Havasu desert drawing renewed concern

May 16, 2019 GMT

The hills above Havasu glisten in the sunlight, but the reflection doesn’t come from snow or precious metals, rather broken glass and ammo brass left behind after decades of shooting.

Shooting sports are revered across America, but maybe no more than in the West.

Lake Havasu City resident Christine Simmons says she has nothing against shooting, her son is a member of the National Rifle Association, but she does want to see it done with some more consideration of people who live where city property meets Bureau of Land Management land.

“We’re tired of the trash that is left behind, the Tannerite explosions, the noise,” Simmons said. “It’s pristine here and it’s not being preserved. It’s become like a garbage dump.”


Simmons has lived on Colt Drive for a decade after retiring from a career teaching kindergarten students in Burbank, California.

Simmons was at the Havasu City Council meeting Tuesday to ask it to ban the sale of such targets.

“The explosions are sometimes so powerful and loud they shake my windows and scare my animals,” Simmons said.

Patrice Holloway has lived in Havasu for 30 years, the last dozen on Colt Drive, and she isn’t happy about the way the land is being treated either.

“We’re not dealing with muzzleloaders here,” Holloway said. “The bullets from some of these guns can travel for miles.”

Holloway said she was walking with her dog on BLM land behind her home a week after the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017 when she heard gunfire and the sound of a bullet sailing over her head.

“I don’t know exactly how close the bullet was to me, but it was close enough,” Holloway said.

She safely made her way down a wash to get out of the line of fire and saw a hunter who was sighting his rifle in as he prepared for hunting season.

“He said he cleared the area, but I knew he didn’t. He felt bad about it, but that was scary,” Holloway said.

Simmons has collected about 100 signatures of residents who want to see the sale of Tannerite or any other binary explosive product banned in the city.

Tannerite is a brand of exploding targets. When a high velocity bullet hits it, an explosion occurs. Ingredients are usually ammonium nitrate or ammonium percholate - and a fuel, which is usually an aluminum powder.

Simmons said she has spoken with a BLM ranger who told her that it is illegal to detonate Tannerite targets on BLM land.

“It’s a Class A misdemeanor and fines can be as high as $100,000, with jail time,” Simmons said.


She also spoke of Havasu founder Robert McCulloch’s vision when he first conceived of how it should look.

“Part of his vision was that people would be able to ride their horses and enjoy it, but equestrians no longer feel safe to ride in the hills because of the shooting and explosions,” Simmons said.

Simmons asked that those who heard explosions should try and pinpoint, get license plate numbers in hopes of identifying people using Tannerite and call BLM.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 928-453-4237, ext. 252 or at sshindledecker@havasunews.com