View Question
Q: Shooting a bullet straight up ( Answered ,   2 Comments )
 Question
 Subject: Shooting a bullet straight up Category: Science > Physics Asked by: segwonk-ga List Price: \$8.50 Posted: 07 Feb 2004 03:10 PST Expires: 08 Mar 2004 03:10 PST Question ID: 304392
 ```Every year on New Year's eve, we always hear warnings from police departments not to fire guns in the air because of the danger (and the legality in urban areas too, I suppose). Now, I understand that if you fire straight up in a vacuum, the bullet will slow to a stop at its peak, then return to its original speed at its point of departure -- very dangerous indeed. But in the real world of wind resistance, wouldn't a bullet on its downward journey hit a terminal velocity similar to, say, someone throwing it? Painful sure, but hardly deadly. Am I totally wrong about this?```
 Subject: Re: Shooting a bullet straight up Answered By: robertskelton-ga on 07 Feb 2004 04:32 PST Rated:
 ```Hi there, Someone has done the math on your question and concludes: "So, instead of the bullet returning to the shooter at 900 m/s, the velocity is significantly less, but still pretty damaging for such a speed. Of course, it would be fatal if it struck in a vital area of the body like the head or chest. I have assumed that since the bullet was fired upwards, the impact coming back down would most likely be to the head... To summarize, the unfortunate result of this story is that the bullet leaves the muzzle at 900 m/s travels upwards, stops, and comes back towards the shooter and impacts at 40.79 m/s. Definitely a bad thing if you ask me." Read all of his/her post at MadSci: http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/dec98/913922171.Ph.r.html Based on that answer, I looked for evidence... "A bullet fired in the air during a Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony came down and struck a participant in the head, critically injuring him, authorities said. ...A bullet struck Murr on the top of the head and exited at the bottom of his skull, authorities said." http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/South/11/24/klan.initiation.ap/ "At least 10 people were killed as the Philippines rang in the New Year, with a grenade attack and celebratory gunfire blamed. More than 400 were injured by fireworks... Seventeen people were injured by stray bullets." http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/01/01/1041196688212.html "At six past midnight we were dispatched to a gunshot wound to a woman's leg. The bullet had come through the roof of her home and hit her in the leg while she was watching television. The wound appeared to have been in the .22 to .25 caliber range. " http://www.packing.org/news/article.jsp/5213/ The question was also asked and answered at the following sites: Ask a Scientist http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy99/phy99456.htm The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-24635,00.html San Diego Union-Tribune http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/features/strange/20011226-1226strange72.html ABC Australia http://www2b.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn/archives/archive8/newposts/57/topic57630.shtm MetaFilter http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/29808 Search terms used: science bullet "in the air" "back down" died bullet "fired in the air" "back down" Best wishes, robertskelton-ga```
 segwonk-ga rated this answer: ```Thanks Robert -- nice work. -- segwonk```

 ```The terminal velocity on a bullet's going to be very high. It won't come down in the same place either, as Coriolis effect (even for 2 seconds) is pretty dramatic when New York is moving at about 1200 km/h: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/ftweather/page_14.shtml```
 ```I can't speak to the velocity or force of a bullet, but I can speak to the deadliness of them. There have been dozens of people killed in my area from what are called "Stray" bullets. These stray bullets can and do kill!```