PUEBLO, Colo. — Recruits trained with the Pueblo Police Academy on Wednesday, in an exercise all about the dangers of explosives, offering the recruits a taste of what they may have to deal with in real life.

“You had no idea that was coming. It rattled the earth,” said Shae Maestas, a recruit at the Pueblo Police Academy.

“It gives an opportunity to see kind of the dangers of… a blasting cap and then on up to some higher explosives that we got,” said Dustin Taylor, commander of the Pueblo Metro Bomb Squad.

Bomb calls are not a stranger in Southern Colorado.

“On average, we get between 50 and 100 callers a year over the last couple of years,” Taylor said. “COVID’s kind of brought that down. But we do see an increase of calls about this time of year as well.”

Sometimes, he said they deal with military explosives, and sometimes they’re hidden on people’s properties.

“We see a lot of calls that involve old mining explosives, especially in some of the old mining towns and even farming communities,” he said.

One of the reasons why Pueblo law enforcement said the recruits need to be aware of the sheer force of the smaller devices.

“We basically wanted to show a power of what a blasting cap can do to a person if they were to hold it in their hand. Once it’s confined, it can actually blow someone’s hand off or cause a lot of damage to even their face if they put it too close.”

Also, Taylor said explosives can be put together with household items readily available to anyone.

“This is the dangers of gases when they ignite.”

The day ended with a bang — an earth-shattering explosion that shook the ground from a commercial-grade bomb.

“Even anticipating there was going to be an explosion it still shook you,” Maestas said. “You felt your insides move. You felt the shock and the waves.”

The Pueblo Bomb Squad said they’re also hoping the community can be aware and know when to call when they see something suspicious.

“If you don’t recognize something and you just have a gut feeling that you don’t think it’s right, we’d rather come out. Assume it’s going to be something and it turns out to be nothing rather than somebody get hurt,” Taylor said.