Highland News Leader

Explosions near Highland mistaken for a plane crash

People shooting explosive targets was mistaken by Highland area residents as a plane crash Saturday.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office received calls around 7:30 p.m. from people assuming an aircraft had gone down when they heard the detonations coming from among the corn fields along Ambuehl Road, which is located off Illinois Route 160 between Highland and Grantfork.

But it was only target practice.

“The report I read showed that a group of guys were shooting explosive barrels of Tannerite with their guns, like in the movies,” said Madison County Sheriff Capt. Mike Dixon.

Tannerite is a name-brand product used as a shot indicator. It’s “specifically designed to be safe and non-flammable, whether it’s sitting on a shelf, being mixed or used,” according to the company’s website.

When a bullet hits Tannerite with a high velocity (2,000 feet per second, minimum), it causes a chemical reaction which results in a large water vapor cloud, along with a “thunderous boom,” which is used as a shot indicator, the company’s website says.

It’s a legal product and is widely available.

“It’s lawful, as long as they have a permit for the weapons,” Dixon said.