If we do night practice, what is to stop us from using floodlights to illuminate the area downrange? Obviously, we would be using a berm, and we would use regular target frames. The floodlights, however, could be used as a visual signal for short durations of illumination to have the same effect of pepper poppers while dealing with with constricting pupils. The problem, of course, is how to make absolutely certain the area down range is closed.
I decided to research it a bit further. We traded a few more stories, and it was time to go. As I drove through the night, I remembered some of my boyhood camping trips. We would sleep out under a sky as black as a coal mine, with stars twinkling overhead. We would use the same type kerosene lanterns to cast light through a forest of pines and dancing shadows. Dark spectres were seen among the shadows as ghost stories were swapped about. All I wanted to be was a hobo back then. Ah the aspirations of a twelve year old boy.
Later, as a college student, I went on a float camping trip with a buddy from North Carolina. The gates were open at the dam of the spillway we launched at, but we had come too far to turn back. Everything downstream was inundated with water, and dry ground was scarce. After paddling through an afternoon of never ending treetops, we finally found a patch of dry land to make camp. We would have to share with raccoons, 'possums and armadillos. As we sat drinking Coors in the lantern light, I told Carl that D'arbonne Creek used to be called something else. He fell into the trap. "What's that?" he asked innocently.
"Boggy Creek," I replied. The movie had been released few years previously, and along with The Town that Dreaded Sundown, a huge impact was still in the mind of youth unaccustomed to Blair Witch type movies. Carl, hearing the local creatures rustling through the leaves on the soggy ground could not take it any longer. I had a hammock. He had a sleeping bag. He took his sleeping bag, climbed into the aluminum john boat and cast off to tie up among the tree tops for the night.
When I awoke Carl was surrounded by what appeared through the morning mist to be bicycle tubes hanging in the branches. As my crusty eyes adjusted, I realized they were snakes. "Carl! Don't move! No! Move slowly! Don't shake the branches!" I yelled. It took a lot to get Carl to go camping again.
The world seems so different now. Or maybe it's me. Age will do that, I suppose, but by the light of kerosene, in a black tar night, it seems very similar.