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Question: What is the terminal velocity of a returning .223 bullet once shot into the air and coming back to the ground, and will it perforate a standard corrugated steel roof? And what is the attitude of a bullet falling to earth? Point first? Point up as it was when it was fired? Flat?
I’ve lived in this house for probably eight years, and it’s pretty standard to hear relatively distant gunfire on midnight entering the new year. In years past living at a different house, this has been done from a high public park perched over the ocean, firing (one would think) out to sea in the direction the old Spanish cannons are pointed, and incidentally setting the steep grassy slope to the ocean on fire – never knew how – but pretty and without fireworks, and lasting a good hour or so. Not much danger, except to the local cemetery. Cemeteries, it seems, always get the choice locations and best views.
But for the past several years I’ve lived inland, and rapid gunfire on New Year’s was always in the distance. This year new neighbors (there are a lot of them, including on the adjoining hill facing my house) have been getting less neighborly with their loud noises, setting off what I assume were M80s either singly or seemingly tied together and lit with a single fuse, pretty much testing them (or enjoying them) any time of the day or night. They sound like gunfire and I figure this was why several police cars rolled up with sirens on a few days ago.
It’s hard for me to tell wrapped fireworks from semi-automatic gunfire, though tonight at half past twelve I did hear full-auto fire a quarter of a mile away, oddly, coming from the direction that I hear “The Star Spangled Banner” played every morning on the naval base.
As an aside, when I was in my teens, I wanted to live in a faraway land, in an exotic location, and in my imaginings, Truk (now called Chuuk) was pretty much as far as anyone could get, thousands of miles from anywhere. And very interestingly, I recently realized that that’s just where circumstances have led me to live, in Oceania, near enough to Truk (or Chuuk) where Chuukese can find it in their interests to fly in on weekends and deliver reasonably fresh reef fish and rock lobsters to the local Sunday morning market. And even today I’ve had a couple of Chuukese men and a boy cutting ten-foot-tall grass and jungle on my side lot. Nice guys, Christian, and they speak English, though they are hard for me to understand and tend to do other things than what I employ them for, performing a different job than I wanted, but it seems to be turning out alright anyway.
Getting back to New Year’s, I was awakened a little before midnight by music blaring, engines revving, and explosions, and alerted with the sound of what seemed like a bullet or two hitting and clanging either along or through my roof. And it got me thinking.
Spitzer-shaped bullets, in all the charts I’ve seen, travel in an arc, but never have I seen – but only was left to suppose – the attitude of the bullet in flight. If a bullet is fired into the air at, say, a 30-degree angle, and the spin of the bullet continues throughout its flight, does the bullet keep its upward-pointing attitude? Or does the spin reduce and allow the bullet to tumble? And if tumbling, does free-fall cause the bullet to nose down at the end of its trajectory, perhaps as the result of aerodynamic drag?
In other words, am I more, or less, likely to have a hole in my roof? Any answers would be welcome – other than that I just have to get up there and look for scratches or holes – which, deep down, I already know.
Thanks in advance,