Understanding The Basics of Ballistics | Firearm Science - NSSF Let's Go Hunting

Understanding The Basics of Ballistics | Firearm Science

Ballistics: The science of the motion of projectiles, such as bullets or pellets.

Whether you’re hunting or practicing with a firearm, there are several things you can see and control, like where your muzzle’s pointing, if the safety is on, and if the gun is loaded.

But there are some very important things happening that you just can’t see, like the speed and angle at which the bullet travels and the distance that it will go. And these factors make up the science of ballistics.

So it’s our responsibility as hunters to know the ballistics of our firearm and ammunition before we pull the trigger.

Know Your Firearm’s Range

Knowing your firearm’s “maximum projectile range” is critical to being a safe and responsible hunter. The maximum projectile range tells you at what distances your firearm’s projectile could cause injury or damage to persons, animals, or objects. When hunting, knowing the “effective hunting range” lets you immediately assess when a shot will give a clean kill. The effective hunting range will always be less than the maximum projectile range. Learning to estimate distances and knowing your firearm’s projectile range and your effective hunting range are important parts of hunting.

The following charts show the maximum projectile range when you use lead bullets in your rifle and Handgun and well as lead pellets in your shotgun.

Projectile Range for a rifle

Projectile Range Handgun

Projectile Range Shotgun

Whether you’re hunting or practicing, think about firearm safety before you pull that trigger. Know what your gun is capable of and your abilities as a shooter.

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Need a Hunter Safety Certificate? Start an online hunter safety education course for your state at Hunter-ed.com.

Hunter-ed.com works with state agencies to produce a hunter safety education course that’s accurate, interesting, and easy to understand.