- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A target shooting explosion that seriously wounded a firearms instructor over the weekend wasn’t part of a training course, but instead was meant for entertainment, the instructor said.

Scott Turner, 42, was discharged Wednesday from OHSU Hospital after he was hit by shrapnel in his wrist and chest from the blast. He is the top instructor and owner of NW Self-Defense Education and was teaching a firearms course at a rural Washington County training spot at the time of the accident.

The explosion was meant for fun, but backfired, Turner acknowledged. He said he agreed with criticism by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office that the activity appeared unnecessary and was dangerous.

“I’m 100 percent with what the sheriff said. He’s completely right,” he said.

During a telephone interview with The Oregonian, he described what happened Saturday.

Turner was teaching a “vehicle barrier course” to about 16 students, including former military members, a retired police officer and an active U.S. Coast Guard member, he said. The course covered using a car for cover, drawing a handgun inside a car, shooting from inside a car and shooting at a car to see what stops a bullet.

A Hyundai Elantra was used during the training at the Joint Regional Operations Center, an old rock quarry near the unincorporated community of Timber. The car was in a large gravel pit.

One of the students had brought three 1-pound containers of Tannerite, a brand-name explosive often used in firearms target practice, to the class, Turner said. Tannerite is a binary explosive. Several companies make binary explosive target kits, which generally require mixing together an oxidizer and fuel before they become volatile. The mixture is then placed in a can or a jar that will explode when hit by a bullet.

After the course, students placed the three Tannerite containers on the Hyundai’s hood, trunk and a window sill - to shoot at and watch blow up. A student fired, striking one of the containers, Turner said, and everyone cheered and laughed.

While they were cleaning up after the explosion, the student noticed that one of the other targets was also hit, but hadn’t blown up. He put it back up on the car’s window sill.

“It was so small, I didn’t think it would detonate,” Turner said.

Turner stepped back about 35 to 40 yards from the car and pulled out his phone to record one of the students shooting at it.

“I got complacent,” Turner said. “I stepped out closer than I should have.”

The target blew up - the explosion was small, like a firework, Turner said. But he realized he had been hit and called for an onsite EMT.

The EMT put a tourniquet on his wrist and gave him an oxygen mask.

Medics arrived in about 45 minutes, he said. A Life Flight helicopter took him to OHSU, where he underwent surgery and spent a couple of hours in the ICU, he said.

“It was scary,” he said. “Honestly, I never felt that I could possibly lose my life.”

He said he was impressed with the training site’s safety plan.

Turner said he served in the Army and started his business 17 years ago. It’s a self-defense company, he said, that offers firearms and Krav Maga courses. Mostly, Turner said, he teaches concealed handgun classes.

The company, based in Scio, also offers classes for women only and for children. The kid classes are “Perfect for birthday parties,” the website says.

Turner runs the business with his wife. The website lists 12 firearms instructors.

During the past 15 years, Turner said students have brought exploding targets to use three times after the classes. A YouTube video on his website shows one of the target explosions that stemmed from a 2.5-pound container being shot, he said. That explosion also happened after a training, he said.

Turner said he will no longer allow exploding targets to be used after his courses. He said he does not use them during classes.

State law bans the use of exploding targets during fire season in forest protection districts and makes their use a Class A violation that carries a $460 fine, according to the sheriff’s office. The law may have been violated during the training, but it was too early in the investigation to say for sure, the sheriff’s office said.

Turner said because they were training at a rock quarry, he thought there weren’t any restrictions.

“If I did break the rules, I believe it’s a fine,” he said. “I’ll learn from that. Our company would never intentionally break any laws.”

___

Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com


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