Attorney General weighs in on use of Tannerite explosive

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- Chesterfield residents tired of hearing loud booms in their community, caused by an exploding target known as Tannerite, might have to deal with the alarming blasts.

Mark Herring, Attorney General of Virginia, recently handed down a legal opinion that Tannerite is a legal product and can be used in Virginia.  Tannerite is the brand name of a binary explosive marketed primarily for making exploding targets for firearms practice.

Justin Watkins, 28, caused a stir in January, when he used a high powered rifle to shoot Tannerite in an open field in southern Chesterfield County.  The noise could be heard for miles.

Several people living in more rural areas of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and the Tri-Cities said they’ve heard similar Tannerite  blasts, which shake their homes and rattle their nerves.

On Monday night, several Chesterfield residents from the Matoaca and Bermuda districts gathered at Matoaca High School to hear from police and legal experts.

Juanita Hudgins says she attended the meeting because the blasts frighten her.

“People begin to get fearful of what they hear,” Hudgins says.  “You’re not sure if it’s a terrorist attack, you don’t know whether something is falling out of the sky, so we are concerned.”

While some say they want the law changed, Tannerite supporter Chris Auton says restrictive laws only hurt law abiding citizens.

“Wanting to change the law because you’ve got maybe a handful of people who are doing it late at night or perhaps doing it in some reckless manner and taking the chance of hurting people, changing the law that affects everybody, it doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Chesterfield Police say Virginia law requires Tannerite to be used at least 600-feet from a dwelling and in a non-reckless manner.

Chesterfield Captain David Shand says citizens can still take civil action if they feel their rights are being violated.

“There is a civil remedy that requires five citizens to basically band together and petition the circuit court to declare what’s going on as a nuisance.”


  • Sam

    Apparently our Attorney General doesn’t have any noisy neighbors – so everyone else has to suffer!
    It’s an “explosive!!!” should be illegal!!! Someone needs to shoot one off near his home – then he might change his mind! I can’t tell you how many time our idiot neighbor shoot one off in backyard and rattle our wall and windows! They are much closer than any 600 ft.!

    • NightOwl

      The law stipulates Tannerite can’t be used within 600 feet of a dwelling. This is equivalent to two football fields. Unless your neighbor has an absolutely enormous back yard then they are violating the law. You should report them to the police. Don’t take away a useful shooting aid from those who use it correctly just because one idiot chooses to violate the law.
      Keep in mind that gasoline is also an explosive if used incorrectly. If your neighbor starts setting off used gasoline cans in his back yard are you going to demand they make gasoline and/or gas cans illegal? Probably not. You’d pick up the phone and call the police & county to report their idiocy. Same logic applies with their inappropriate Tannerite use.

    • Yes

      Does it really bother you that bad? I live about 40 miles from Fort Pickett, and they shake and rattle my house all night sometimes…Does it bother me, nope. Why not, instead of calling the police, or going on crazy rants. Be civil and try to talk to your neighbor….Oh too easy? Could be a nice guy, might even let you try it out!

  • David Watson

    Tannerite along with the other exploding targets is actually explosive grade ammonium nitrate prills, the same explosive Timothy McVeigh used in Oklahoma City and terrorist are using in Syria and Afghanistan with aluminum powder to make it more sensitive to being shot with a high powered rifle or a blasting cap. My question to Attorney General Herring is not if but when this explosive is used as an IED will you take a different opinion then? Will it take innocent lives like the ones we saw maimed and killed in Boston, Oklahoma City and other locations around the world? Virginia’s code section 18.2-85 clearly makes a felony for possession of a chemical compound capable of creating an explosion. Did Attorney General Herring read this code section?

  • Patrick

    Just call it residential Violence like the Oklahoma beheader. The same people who want it outlawed are probably the same ones who think murderig babies is ok. Thunder can rattle the windows so we should outlaw that too. Silly people.

  • morgan

    Patrick. You are wrong. Fire will not make it explode therefor a blasting charge or cap won’t either. It has to be a high velocity round for it to explode.

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