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Old September 30, 2012, 08:00 PM   #1
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Shooting rifle in the air ?

Hello from Eastern Wa. the better Wa. State. Im 58 and been around guns sence I was 14 then got out of them in tell 5 years ago when I started buying pistols. I have a ruger 10/22 but I want a .17 hmr. I have always been told by my Dad and others never to shoot a rifle in the air,and I have never did. I have some friends that have .17 and said there are safe.So am I right or am I missing something. Need some answers please
Thanks Mike
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Old September 30, 2012, 08:03 PM   #2
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What are they shooting at in the air? Rule 4 of gun safety is be sure of your target and anything behind your target....if you just randomly fire a rifle into the air you have no idea where that bullet might come down. Never fire a rile into the air.
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Old September 30, 2012, 08:14 PM   #3
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Check out mythbusters...they had a special about this very subject.

As long as you're firing "UP" not at an's technically perfectly safe.

They tested a lot of calibers. Basically once the bullet slows to a stop and begins to no longer is spinning, but tumbling down. Even with large calibers the terminal velocity of a tumbling down round is not enough to kill. It would hurt like a SOB if you got hit with one...but not fatal.

They set up a nail gun to shoot pennies at the terminal velocity of the rounds, and shot it at their hands from 2-3 feet. It hurt...but, didn't even break the skin.

I've shot 410's up in wooded sound of buckshot falling through the trees
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Old September 30, 2012, 08:24 PM   #4
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A 40 grain bullet falling at terminal velocity would still hurt.

Violate one of The Four Rules, and bad things can happen.

There was a story awhile back ......

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Old September 30, 2012, 09:36 PM   #5
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I live in Pennsylvania and that it absolutely a true story. Myth busters my butt. How stupid can you be? You don't tell people it is safe to shoot up in the air. How about I shoot target arrows straight up and run under a shed while you wait for them to come down and "Bounce" off your head. If there is ever any doubt about something unsafe, don't do it.

The reason "Myths" pop up is it is usually a one in a couple million event. I don't know about you, but my luck is never that good. I suggest you don't go by what Myth Busters has to say. I quit watching that show when they tried to put a bullet through a scope. Nothing was even close to the real event they were trying to copy. It is a clown show.
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Old September 30, 2012, 09:47 PM   #6
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Check out mythbusters...they had a special about this very subject.

As long as you're firing "UP" not at an's technically perfectly safe.

They tested a lot of calibers.
I saw that episode. They only recovered pistol bullets--they were not able to recover rifle bullets. In addition they only recovered a limited number of pistol bullets in, at most, two calibers.

A man named Hatcher did some testing for the army many years ago and confirmed that some rifle bullets remained spin stabilized and fell back base first with around 30ft/lbs of energy instead of tumbling which would have reduced the terminal velocity and energy levels. At the time he concluded that was not a lethal level of energy using the military's 60ft/lb threshold for lethality, however people have certainly been killed by projectiles with lower energy levels than that. We get a few deaths from pellet guns each year at energy levels down under 10 ft/lbs.

Hatcher's projectiles were falling between 300fps and 400fps. That's not much compared to the muzzle velocity, but a projectile can compromise the skull at lower velocities than that, particularly the skull of a child.

It's not safe to shoot up in the air, not even shooting straight up. Without testing, it's not possible to know if the particular caliber you're shooting will keep the bullet stabilized and allow them to descend base first at potentially lethal velocities or if the bullets will tumble and be much less likely to do anything other than bruise.
I've shot 410's up in wooded sound of buckshot falling through the trees
Shotgun pellets, particularly smaller ones are safer than bullets, but when you get up to the larger buckshot there is, again, some potential for injury. Birdshot is not a problem.
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old September 30, 2012, 11:33 PM   #7
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A New Orleans tradition is to shoot at the sky on New Year's eve. This has been banned but occasionaly occurs. People have been wounded and in the past 20 years I recall at least one fatality due to a falling pistol bullet.

Simple rule: don't shoot at the sky unless a duck is your target.
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Old September 30, 2012, 11:51 PM   #8
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A true vertical shot is not a major danger per Hatcher (Not zero but not major.)

But how many New Year's drunks have you seen with a plumb bob on their guns for "celebratory fire?" A shot fired in the air but off the vertical will carry out with a significant amount of its muzzle velocity remaining, enough to cause most of the cases you read about.
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Old October 1, 2012, 03:51 AM   #9
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how many New Year's drunks have you seen with a plumb bob on their guns for "celebratory fire?"

Thats funny stuff and oh so true
As of this date 8-18-14 at 6:42am I became a proud grandfather I guess I'm officially old

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Old October 1, 2012, 04:40 AM   #10
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An 8 year old boy was shot in the head with a 22mag bullet 2 years ago from half mile away. Apparently a man was shooting crows from an electric pole in his farm and one of the bullets he missed with just happened to hit this kid He survived but has permanent brain damage for the rest of his life. Shooting birds of any type with a rifle is illegal in ireland now after that. If a 22mag can do that a 17hmr would do as well. they have much the same powder pushing them and 17 is a faster round. Just don't shoot in the air and this **** won't happen
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Old October 1, 2012, 06:14 AM   #11
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Shannon's Law was written specifically to address the danger of firing a gun into the air.

Shannon Smith was 14 when she was killed by a stray bullet. Whether the bullet actually fired into the air or just fired by some idiot who did not think about what he was doing is really not as important as the fact that Shannon Smith is DEAD.

Just don't do it.

Carpe Cerveza
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Old October 1, 2012, 06:20 AM   #12
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Even if firing straight up it might not have enough to kill however I wouldn't consider it safe. That clearly violates knowing your target and what is beyond.
"He who laughs last, laughs dead." Homer Simpson
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Old October 1, 2012, 06:30 AM   #13
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I would go with Hatcher's data rather than Myth busters (my rule: never trust myth busters for a firearm myth). As stated, terminal velocity for most falling bullets results in less energy than a 22 short. That is, to be fair, relatively less lethal than other circumstances. Still more than a typical pellet gun, and i don't see people lining up to be shot by those! Not a risk worth taking! If you're hit in the body somewhere, you'll probably make it, but it'll still break skin and probably send you to the ER.

These things are usually probabilistic in nature-- why take any chance at all?

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Old October 1, 2012, 06:46 AM   #14
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Summary: Don't just turn a round loose at any up angle. It's not a safe thing to do, not at all.
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
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