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Sunday's loud explosions heard around the region remain a mystery, but some tipsters and readers have offered a theory about a little-known explosive used by some recreational shooters.

I had heard of the explosive Tannerite before Sunday, but after some questioned whether the explosions heard primarily in parts of Queensbury on Sunday afternoon (read the story here about the police calls that resulted) could be linked to shooters using the explosive, I started to look into it.

Airplane sonic booms and meteorites entering the atmosphere could also have caused the concussions and noise that shook homes. But the interesting factor that many of us heard much of Sunday afternoon was gunfire somewhere on the northern edge of West Mountain, between Fuller Road and Butler Pond Road.

Whoever was shooting was firing off some pretty high-caliber, semiautomatic stuff for a few hours. This part of the mountain is dotted with a few homes but also thousands of acres of privately owned, undeveloped land and Glens Falls watershed property.

There are also a handful of hunting clubs and some defacto shooting ranges, as well as plenty of sand pits and quarried areas where shooters could set up.

Enter Tannerite. In a nutshell, Tannerite is a dry explosive, formed when mixing powdered ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. It is ignited only by high-velocity impact like a rifle round, and is used by shooters for exploding targets, so they can see where rounds are hitting.

Some like to take large quantities of it, sometimes filling plastic totes, buckets and other containers, to make for some pretty impressive explosions. If you want to see how impressive, check out this video, this one or just go to YouTube and search "Tannerite."

And it's completely legal in New York, as long as it isn't used for damaging other people's property, trespassing, etc.

Tannerite explosions have been blamed for loud booming noises in other parts of the country, and from what I hear in shooting circles, the stuff has gotten fairly popular. Enter all of the shooting we were hearing, and it seems to make sense.

So where was the shooting happening, and who was doing it? And what kind of crater did the last of the explosions leave behind?

I knocked on a lot of doors Tuesday along West Mountain Road, Butler Pond Road and Fuller Road, and was told that that shooting to the west on the mountain is not uncommon.

I talked to one resident who rode around on a four-wheeler Sunday afternoon trying to find where it was going on, and said it seemed to be coming from the Wilkie Reservoir area. Retired state forest ranger George Stec lives near there, but said he wasn't around for Sunday's shooting or explosions but said there is a property owner who lets shooters use his land nearby.

So the mystery remains. But it seems like this may be a plausible explanation.

-- Don Lehman

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