Ballistics – Making Every Shot Count!
Over the last 20 years, I have been immersed in all aspects of shooting and have been a dedicated student of ballistics. As a competitor, instructor, active duty Marine, and law-abiding armed citizen, I have had the opportunity to work with the full spectrum of shooters from novice through professional. I have also seen the differences between “good” and “great” shooters during this time.
At its very core, shooting is simply the act of launching a projectile from a firearm to a target. Many of us know this is not as easy as it sounds. “Good” shooters have developed both the mental awareness of deciding when to take the shot and the physical manipulation of the firearm required to hit the target. “Great” shooters, on the other hand, make every shot count by consistently placing their shot within a certain area of the target and achieving the desired effect.
So what does it take to make every shot count? Great shooters have not only refined the mental and physical skills, they have developed an understanding of ballistics. Specifically, they understand how firearm function and projectile flight combine to produce the accuracy and consistency that place every shot where they want it.
Great shooters understand both the art and the science of shooting.
Firearms training courses, like those at Aegis Academy, provide valuable opportunities to learn, understand, and practice the art of shooting through demonstration and practical application of mental awareness, decision making, stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control. These are critical mental and physical skills required to effectively fire a weapon. Achieving a higher level of proficiency, however, requires not only focused and dedicated practice, it requires an understanding of the science of shooting.
Ballistics is the science of shooting
Everyone from recreational shooters through competitors and practitioners can benefit from understanding not just how to fire a weapon, but to also understand what is happening as the cartridge functions within the firearm, and why certain elements alter a bullet’s flight and terminal impact. In competition, this makes the difference between winning and losing. In self-defense or terminating a dynamic event, it can make the difference between life and death.
Ballistics is simply defined as the science that deals with the motion of projectiles. Specific to firearms, the study of ballistics focuses on all aspects of a projectile’s motion from when it is at rest within the firearm through its flight and eventual impact on a target.
Types of Ballistics
There are many variables and aspects that affect a bullet’s flight to the target, so the study of firearm ballistics is broken down into three main areas:
– Internal Ballistics: this covers everything that affects the projectile while it is inside of the firearm. Key concepts include: mechanical accuracy, projectile shape and weight, powder type and burn rate, and barrel length and twist.
– External Ballistics: from the very moment the projectile exits the barrel until it contacts another object that brings it to a halt, external ballistics define the actual path the projectile takes. Key concepts include: ballistic transition, initial velocity, yaw, gyroscopic stability, drag, and momentum.
– Terminal Ballistics: as the projectile ends its flight and contacts another object, the bullet’s terminal velocity, construction, and residual stability determine the effect it has on the target. Additional concepts include: bullet expansion, bullet fragmentation, and wound cavity.
All ballistic concepts are interrelated. Therefore, developing an understanding of the three types of ballistics may make a difference between a hit and a miss. For example, simply choosing a cartridge with a bullet type and weight that do not match the firearm characteristics can produce insufficient velocity and gyroscopic stability causing a miss or ineffective impact. In short, understanding firearm ballistics will significantly augment the mental decision to shoot and the physical manipulation of the firearm that will make every shot count.
Stay tuned for next month’s discussion of Internal Ballistics. If you have questions or comments in the meantime, please post them to the blog or contact me at HHall@aegisacademy.com.
See you next month!
~ Howard Hall
#Ballistics, #firearmstraining, #firearmsballistics