Tom, you have been granted access to a LIBRARY of knowledge right here. Please get a cuppa coffee or a cool drink and start reading. Thats how I did it. As you read, take notes - write down questions. Many will answer themselves as you read on. This is a really nice group of folks, and most all are happy to give kind, insightful advice. If you don't have one yet, you NEED a composition notebook to take notes in. Start out with just a simple pad of paper and then you'll figure out what dividers (chapters) you'll need in your composition book. Use this place, and its resources as a learning tool. Please ask questions, and seek advice. That said, FIRST you have to know the following terms (to start with); Fuel, Accelerant, Oxidizer,Low explosive, High explosive, Brisance and gain a basic understanding of shapes and sizes - atomized, tubular, flake, etc and what that means as far as how chemicals interact. If you're serious, find out about professional pyrotechnicians and how they have learned. Eventually, if you are a true science geek, you'll want to learn about the molecular level of chemistry (many of use find it fascinating) and releasing energy and how it happens. There is a beauty that happens when you create colors and effects and they do as you want them to. Please don't jump off into explosive stuff too fast. Everybody wants to start with flash powder, which is why there aren't as many 'everybody's' as there used to be. Learn about stars, glitter and different devices you can make easily that are fun. Good luck!