If you shot a gun right up in the air how far would the bullet travel and would it come directly back down if there was no wind?
#36851. Asked by adamshone. (Jul 30 03 10:45 AM)
How far depends on the gun and type of ammo. As for coming straight down or not, the rotation of the Earth would come into play, so my answer is 'probably not'. You don't get noticeable drift with a tennis ball thrown up, because it doesn't go far enough. A bullet from a high velocity rifle can travel up to a mile (or so I remember) so by the time it's got up there and fallen again there's time for the rotation to come into effect. Come on someone - Luis, where are you? - shoot me down over this!|
I'll shoot you Baloo.|
As you say the distance depends on the gun and ammunition used.
Discounting wind and all other forces (seagulls or winged pigs) that might change its "up and down" path then yes it should.
The rotation bit does not actually "count" since the bullet is already "traveling sideways" as it leaves the end of the barrel because the gun itself is rotating with the Earth.
What this means is that the bullet does not actually travel along the same path on its upward journey as it does on its downward one. It is actually a curved path - a parabola (I think it is this and not a hyperbola)
An analogy that might explain what I mean exactly.
You are on a moving train - speed does not matter providing it is not zero, lets say it's doing 60 mph , you toss a ball from your hand vertically up, it rises 3 feet - stops and falls along the same path directly back into your hand. The ball went straight up and then came straight down. Well it did as far as you on the train are concerned.
(So it works - the ball is the bullet - you are the gun)
However if the ball was not in your hand for 1 second the train travelled 88 feet between you letting go and catching it again.
(60 mph = 1 mile a minute = 1760 yds / 5280 feet a minute = 88ft per second)
So the ball actually travelled in an arc, 88 feet horizontally end to end and 3 feet highed in the middle.
A bullet from a gun would do the same however "slight" the sideways motion due to the Earth's rotation is.
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