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Thread: Shooting up in the air

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    Default Shooting up in the air

    Does it come back down/drop fast enough to be lethal?

    I know, a heavy piano, for example, would do a lot of damage, but we're talkin bout a bullet here, the weight calculated in grains.

    Would the altitude from where it stopped goin up matter? Is there a max falling velocity?

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    Do you know the terminal velocity of said bullet?

    The force of acceleration is 32 ft per second Per second, but the CF of the bullet, and the height matters a lot.
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    I have seen studies on this in Arizona when “Shannon’s Law” was being pushed after she was killed by just such a bullet while in her own back yard.

    Shooting directly up so it stops, falls backward as if dropped, and tumbles it’s unlikely to be deadly at terminal velocity (speed the air drag can’t be overcome by gravity) unless it‘s a very heavy bullet, say 500g maybe. If fired in an arc that allows it to remain stable in flight, spin drag is greatly reduced and terminal velocity is MUCH faster so even pretty small bullets can kill.
     
    So shooting directly up is unlikely to kill but heart like all heck.
    Shoot in an arc and it’s likely very deadly at any range if it hits anything vital.
     
    As a dumb kid I killed a good horse with a 22lr at something around 950 yards. I was lobbing rounds out there enjoying their reactions to the dust kicked up. I had to aim almost 45* to get the little thing way out there and figured a 55g 22 would be like a BB (I’d been shot with BBs myself) at that range. Well, I was wrong and killed a good horse with my wrong assumption!
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    this happened about 80 miles north of me last winter... apparently the guy was was unloading his muzzle loader (50 cal.) by shooting into the air after a hunt. not a very smart move
    http://amishamerica.com/reckless-hom...mish-shooting/

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    Very good question, and very few answers. The US Army looked into this, and came to the conclusion that a round fired very steeply upwards does not come come down with enough energy to kill, under normal circumstances. The study was Hatchers Notebook, published in the early 1960's.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigDale View Post
    this happened about 80 miles north of me last winter... apparently the guy was was unloading his muzzle loader (50 cal.) by shooting into the air after a hunt. not a very smart move
    http://amishamerica.com/reckless-hom...mish-shooting/
    Since this was more than a mile away, with a muzzy, I can assume two things:
    1) He had a crappy lawyer
    2) The shot had to have not been "straight up", because the horizontal component could never had reached more than a mile.

    There is Shannon's in Arizona to protect us from such things. The problem is the data about the dangers of such shots is so poor, and any random air shot regardless of initial angle is included into the data pool, that the true dangers are unknown.

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    Something I am missing here, Why would you want to shoot into the air?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK6Pack View Post
    Something I am missing here, Why would you want to shoot into the air?
    As a kid I was always taught to know your target and beyond, never shoot skyline,....etc.....

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    FWIW I found a 9mm bullet on my roof in Los Anchorage one spring. It was laying on its side, no dimple into the roof, midway up from the eave. My guess is the snowpack caught it. I agree w 6pack, never discharge without a backstop unless of course ur bird hunting with the appropriate ammo.
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    The Discovery series "Mythbusters" did a pretty good episode where they investigated this exact subject.

    They found that the terminal velocity in free fall of a standard handgun projectile wasn't high enough to penetrate a skull…but when you added a stabilizing spin the velocities were quite a bit higher. They also did some penetration tests in a lake bed by firing straight up and then finding the impact…IIRC the penetration was about 3-5".

    They did do some investigation of rifle cartridges fired in a steep arc and they did retain enough velocity and energy to kill or seriously wound to remarkable distances with documented cases of it doing exactly that.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK6Pack View Post
    As a kid I was always taught to know your target and beyond, never shoot skyline,....etc.....
    Yes “always know tour target and beyond“ is the mantra but it doesn’t quite work here where the sky is the target and outer space beyond. Never a good idea to shoot anything into the air “what goes up must come down” is the mantra for that. I was taught both of those and in bird hunting “know where your shot is raining” because it’s not polite to rain on other hunters. I’ve been rained on many times with bird shot, it stings slightly on bare skin, may injure an eye if looking up I guess but not at all deadly. It’s very rude to rain on others out trying to enjoy their hunt though so I was educated about it.
     
     
    When I was younger I dodged many things coming down, couple dumb ones for ya‘ll.
    Arrow, very bad idea! Yea I was thinking I can see it in flight and I wonder how high it will go. Answer; high enough you loose sight of it looking at the little end coming back down right at you!!

    Full 7 gallon propane tank at night, you know, a road flair and shoot it and get a big ball of flame to oohh and aww at. If you hit it low to just kiss the bottom up/up/UP she goes into the night sky and looks so cool . . . Then the fire goes out and you find your left with a hunk of steel swishing around 100 foot over your head while you run through cactus and sticker bushes with a bad case of flash blind . . . both laughing and crying as you go!
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    I'm gettin it. The steeper the angle, the more the bullet is slowed by gravity. If steep enough, it will stop and drop, falling by gravity.

    At any angle gravity would be at work, but not slowing the bullet as much as a steeper one.

    And, at a lesser angle, the bullet would retain more of it's initial velocity.

    I needed to know the issues.

    Thanks Mightily
    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock knocker View Post
    Very good question, and very few answers. The US Army looked into this, and came to the conclusion that a round fired very steeply upwards does not come come down with enough energy to kill, under normal circumstances. The study was Hatchers Notebook, published in the early 1960's.



    Since this was more than a mile away, with a muzzy, I can assume two things:
    1) He had a crappy lawyer
    2) The shot had to have not been "straight up", because the horizontal component could never had reached more than a mile.

    There is Shannon's in Arizona to protect us from such things. The problem is the data about the dangers of such shots is so poor, and any random air shot regardless of initial angle is included into the data pool, that the true dangers are unknown.
    they were both amish, I doubt he or the family involved had lawyers at all... simple physics would also hint that he didn't shoot it straight up in the air as well as it entered through the front of her buggy but the question was are shots fired in the air lethal?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDale View Post
    ...but the question was are shots fired in the air lethal?
    ...and the short answer is "potentially, yes".
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    I watched that mythbusters episode.
    What I gained from it was a bullet fired Straight up was not lethal but given any angle at all then it could be.
    I would say a gun fired into the air being held in your hand would be too hard to keep pointed perfectly straight up.
    Just my $.02
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    You could probably ask some of our military service members who have served in the Middle East. It seems fairly common practice to fire rifles and pistols into the air as "reusable firecrackers". I would imagine there are numerous incidents of little old ladies walking home with groceries being struck and killed by random falling projectiles. "Insh'allah"
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    You could probably ask some of our military service members who have served in the Middle East. It seems fairly common practice to fire rifles and pistols into the air as "reusable firecrackers". I would imagine there are numerous incidents of little old ladies walking home with groceries being struck and killed by random falling projectiles. "Insh'allah"
    I wonder who all is getting rained on every time I see that, but hey, over there just duck-n-cover and let Allah sort it out.
     
    Not just the Mid-East though, it was quite common in Phoenix on new years and 4th of July because it’s illegal to buy/sell/have fireworks there (extreme fire risk in the dry there) but everybody has guns. When I lived there every get drunk and fire in the air like fools holiday people were hit and every couple-o-three years somebody died from a falling bullet . . . That’s why they passed Shannon’s law down there about firing into the air within 1 mile of an occupied dwelling within a cities and towns.
     
    I remember seeing pictures of where Shannon was when she died on the news. Between two buildings, behind a 6 foot block wall, near a shed, and struck in the top of her head . . . That bullet had to be dropping very near veridical to hit her in that little urban canyon she was in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I'm gettin it. The steeper the angle, the more the bullet is slowed by gravity. If steep enough, it will stop and drop, falling by gravity.

    At any angle gravity would be at work, but not slowing the bullet as much as a steeper one.

    And, at a lesser angle, the bullet would retain more of it's initial velocity.

    I needed to know the issues.

    Thanks Mightily
    Smitty of the North
    The key is that gravity only has an effect on the vertical component, not the horizontal. If a bullet is shot straight up, gravity will bring the bullet to a stop where it will lose all stability (no forward movement through the air to retain stability) before it starts to fall. It will then wobble and have a fairly slow terminal velocity. If shot up at an angle, when gravity is done stopping the vertical component of the travel, the bullet will still remain moving horizontally through the air, helping to maintain it's stability and flying without a wobble. It will retain this while starting to fall back toward the ground. When stable and flying as a bullet is designed, it's terminal velocity (the point where gravity and air resistance balance out) will be much higher.

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    If gravity didn't have an effect, the bullet wouldn't lose altitude.

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    I'm thinking a 500gr 45/70 shot straight up would hit pretty hard even if it was tumbling when in got back down. And a round ball from a 69cal muzzle loader would probably put the hurts on you even if shot straight up. Likewise a 300gr from a 44mag. Yeah trying to shoot an arrow straight up was probably one of the dumber things I did as a kid. Kind of weird how it turns from cool to scary just when is goes out of sight.

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    Didn't anyone pay attention in high school science?
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