Is firing in the air dangerous????

Is firing in the air dangerous????

This is a discussion on Is firing in the air dangerous???? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; a post on a motorcycle forum stated that lots of gunfire in their neighborhood last night, then went on to say he'd seen on "mythbusters" ...

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Thread: Is firing in the air dangerous????

  1. #1
    New Member Array lester's Avatar
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    Is firing in the air dangerous????

    a post on a motorcycle forum stated that lots of gunfire in their neighborhood last night, then went on to say he'd seen on "mythbusters" that bullets fall harmlessly to the ground. i personally disagree,,, what's your thoughts???? give me some good info,, and i'll take them to task.....thanks


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array dunndw's Avatar
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    I'd say yes. they also proved you can't really hand hold the weapon exactly up and down. That would send the projectile on a ballistic trajectory; it would come down with MUCH more energy transferred to some unlucky skull.
    "If I was an extremist, our founding fathers would all be extremists," he said. "Without them, we wouldn't have our independence. We'd be a disarmed British system of feudal subjectivity."

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    What goes up, must come down...

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    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    The basic idea is that a bullet is fired at much higher than terminal velocity. So, by the time the bullet is falling solely from gravity, it is slow and tumbling, rather than fast and spinning. It's no more than the proverbial penny dropped from a tall building.

    The real danger of firing bullets in the air is that, as dunndw pointed out, if they aren't fired straight up then somebody might be on the receiving end when it is still traveling as a fired, not falling, bullet...

  5. #5
    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazzaerexys View Post
    The basic idea is that a bullet is fired at much higher than terminal velocity. So, by the time the bullet is falling solely from gravity, it is slow and tumbling, rather than fast and spinning. It's no more than the proverbial penny dropped from a tall building.
    This is absolutely wrong. The terminal velocity is the same as the firing velocity (at vertical ignoring atmospheric effects.) An easy way of looking at it is that the bullet will go higher at higher initial velocities and after reaching its apex will fall to Earth at an acceleration of 32 ft/sec squared.

    To be clear, as soon as the bullet is fired it is subject to the acceleration of 32 ft/sec squared. As it is going up the acceleration slows the velocity towards Earth, when it is coming down the velocity increases (a change of sign thing.) If a bullet is fired up at 1200 ft/sec it lands at 1200 ft/sec. That is simple physics.

    A few years ago during a New Year's celebration in Arizona, someone fired a gun in the air and it came down through the skull of a little girl named Shannon.

  6. #6
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    I don't want to debate the the specifics...but if a bullet is fired STRAIGHT up it will come back down at a lower speed than fired up. It will reach it's terminal velocity on the downward flight at will only be traveling a fraction of it's muzzle velocity.

    The problem with firing in the air is most bullets travel at an angle & not directly up. These will travel in an arc & can remain deadly for some distance....

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,319399,00.html
    Single Bullet Fired Into Colorado Home Kills Woman, Girl at New Year's Eve Party

    A family member provided this photo of Angelica, who he said was shot and killed during a New Year's Eve party in Denver.
    DENVER An 11-year-old girl and a woman were killed by a single bullet fired into a home from hundreds of yards away early Tuesday, possibly by a New Year's reveler, police said.....
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  7. #7
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    A few years ago during a New Year's celebration in Arizona, someone fired a gun in the air and it came down through the skull of a little girl named Shannon.
    I don't want to debate the the specifics...but if a bullet is fired STRAIGHT up it will come back down at a lower speed than fired up. It will reach it's terminal velocity on the downward flight at will only be traveling a fraction of it's muzzle velocity.

    The problem with firing in the air is most bullets travel at an angle & not directly up. These will travel in an arc & can remain deadly for some distance....
    The plain and simple facts. Firing a gun into the air is not only highly not recommended----it also constitutes a willful and reckless disregard for others safety. How would you like to be charged with 1st degree murder?

  8. #8
    Ex Member Array FN1910's Avatar
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    Several years ago three fellows in Charlotte, NC were out target shooting and killed two girls at Carowinds about a mile away. I doubt that they were shooting straight up but a mile is a long ways.

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array TN_Mike's Avatar
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    Even if some TV actors who test "myths" say that bullets won't fall to Earth with enough force to kill you, do you want to test their findings with your own melon?

    No one will even convince me that shooting a gun into the air is anything other than reckless and stupid.
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  10. #10
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    If a bullet is fired up at 1200 ft/sec it lands at 1200 ft/sec. That is simple physics.
    Wrong.
    Anybody that has ever dovehunted in a field full of hunters or duck hunted with others near by and got "salted" by shot would be dead if that was the case. As it is, getting peppered dosent even hurt, its just an annoyance.

    The US Navy did a ton of studies on this during and right after WW2 with bullets fired with machineguns in aircraft and even the spent casings that were expelled. A bullet shot straight up will eventually slow down, stop, and then drop back to earth. When it free falls it will only have the weight of the bullet as energy.

    With that being said, any bullet that is fired less than verticle can have enough speed on it to be lethal.

    Heres a link to two death associated with some Yahoo shooting up in the air on New Years Eve.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,319399,00.html

    Single Bullet Fired Into Colorado Home Kills Woman, Girl at New Year's Eve Party


    DENVER An 11-year-old girl and a woman were killed by a single bullet fired into a home from hundreds of yards away early Tuesday, possibly by a New Year's reveler, police said.
    Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said the bizarre shooting, which came shortly after midnight, may have been accidental. No arrests had been made, but investigators said they did not believe a sniper was on the loose.
    The victims' names had not been released. It wasn't immediately known if they were related.
    Police said the pair were at a party with about 10 other people when at least one shot was fired from up to 300 yards away, possibly from across a park next to the home. Jackson said one bullet went through the front wall of the house, passed through the head of the woman, who was seated, and struck the girl in the side.
    Jackson said investigators traced the trajectory of the shot to determine that the single bullet killed both victims.

    A second bullet was found in a snowbank in front of the home.
    The woman died at the scene and the girl was pronounced dead at a hospital.

    There ya have it. Shooting up into the air is totally irresponsible and dangerous, not to mention of violation of one of the 4 rules..."know your backstop and what is beyond".
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  11. #11
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Wrong.

    A bullet shot straight up will eventually slow down, stop, and then drop back to earth. When it free falls it will only have the weight of the bullet as energy.

    With that being said, any bullet that is fired less than vertical can have enough speed on it to be lethal.
    Bingo.

    A projectile fired *straight* up, given no wind etc... to divert the projectile's path, will reach apex and come to almost a dead halt mid-air for a split second as gravity overcomes it's energy, and from there on out, it's freefall - whatever energy the projectile had BEFORE apex doesn't matter now, it's in gravity's hands.

    Without taking complicated variables into account, a reasonably aerodynamic object will accelerate at about 9.8 meters per second in freefall, and will continue to accelerate at this rate until air resistance (drag) equals the force of gravity acting upon the projectile.
    Since bullets are designed to be very aerodynamic and have a particularly high sectional density, the terminal velocity of a bullet could be quite high - several hundred mph - though probably nowhere near original muzzle velocity. Given "good" (or rather, "extremely bad") shot placement, a bullet at terminal freefall velocity could definitely be fatal.

    The situation gets worse when the angle is not "straight up", as some of the projectile's energy is NOT lost at apex. I haven't researched this too much, but I'd imagine a bullet fired at a 45* angle would probably come back down to earth at a much higher rate of speed than it's terminal freefall velocity would be.

    I find it highly irresponsible of Hollywood to make Americans think it's OK.

    I'd imagine the reason birdshot coming down isn't as bad would be because of it's lower weight and sectional density - it can't build up enough energy in freefall to do much damage.

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.

    PS - I've researched this stuff a fair bit because I have a side hobby of building home-made cannons. Mostly propane/oxygen powered, but I've messed with a few other things too. My favorite projectiles are golf balls, since they're uniform, aerodynamic, and cheap. One of the ways I test modifications or variables to my cannon(s) is to fire a golf ball at a very nearly straight-up angle (in the middle of a large open feild) and clock the "hang time" with a stop watch. It's pretty cool stuff. Sometime I'll post a picture of my cannon.

  12. #12
    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Wrong.
    Anybody that has ever dovehunted in a field full of hunters or duck hunted with others near by and got "salted" by shot would be dead if that was the case. As it is, getting peppered dosent even hurt, its just an annoyance.

    The US Navy did a ton of studies on this during and right after WW2 with bullets fired with machineguns in aircraft and even the spent casings that were expelled. A bullet shot straight up will eventually slow down, stop, and then drop back to earth. When it free falls it will only have the weight of the bullet as energy.
    I am surprised at the number of people who do not understand simple projectile physcs. Not to be disrespectful, but studies are not required. It requires a simple application of Newtonian physics.

    I could provide the derivation but I'm afraid that from some of the posts here it would not be understood.

    I know you all want to believe otherwise but, in fact, the initial velocity = terminal velocity if the bullet is launched vertically (neglecting air resistance, which is minimal). Further, it goes up for exactly the same time that it takes to come down no matter the initial velocity!

    If you really want the formulas and calculations, they are pretty simple. You know, like time to reach apex is initial velocity/g squared...

  13. #13
    Member Array Danger Mouse's Avatar
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    If the myth busters was watched closely you would see where they had stated that while shooting straight up is not dangerous, but if the gun was pointed ever so slightly on an angle the bullet will maintain its original flight path (Coming in on an arc) thus the bullet COULD be lethal. But lets face it, why shoot straight up in the air to begin with? If something did happen wouldn't that give the anti's more fuel for their fire?
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    @SelfDefense,

    As mentioned in my previous post, I do some backyard science with cannons, frequently involving golf balls as projectiles.

    My "nicest" and most frequently used cannon burns a propane/oxygen mixture and gets a 46 gram golfball going about 660-680 mph (it depends on atmospheric conditions and the exact propane/oxygen mixture. A "good one" clocks in JUST under 1000 fps, for about 1574 ft/lb ). I can absolutely guarantee you that they don't come back to earth at this velocity, seeing as they usually make a small dent in the ground and stay there.
    Unless this is a function of a golf ball's low sectional density (compared to a metal bullet)... mind explaining where I went wrong? I don't mean to sound argumentative or challenge you, but it sounds like you know something I don't.

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.

  15. #15
    Senior Moderator
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    If you really want the formulas and calculations, they are pretty simple. You know, like time to reach apex is initial velocity/g squared...
    Ok... lets make it simple.

    Will you agree that the bullet will stop momentarily at its apex before it makes the return back to earth?
    If it didnt stop, it wouldnt come back.

    For that split second in time, it had NO energy. Now, it makes the return and the wieght of the bullet and the speed of it is all the energy it will have. It has shed every single bit of velocity that it ever had when it stops.

    If it were as you say, I would have been killed or at least seriously injured as a kid the first time I got hit with shot from my buddies shotgun while we were squirrle hunting. As it was I wasnt even hurt.

    You are telling me that the shot falling back to earth is still traveling at the 1250 FPS that it left at?


    I dont need any math to disprove that. Otherwise Id be filled with holes in me the same size as # 4, #6 and #7 1/2 shot.

    Guess what? No holes in me.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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