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Ohio Man Shoots Amish Girl While Cleaning Gun

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December 27, 2011

Ohio Man Shoots Amish Girl While Cleaning Gun

By Phil Bourjaily


This story out of Fredericksburg, Ohio
serves as a freakish, tragic reminder that the only place to shoot a rifle is into a safe backstop. Fifteen-year-old Rachel Yoder was driving her buggy home when she was struck in the head by a muzzleloader bullet apparently fired a mile and a half away, by a man “cleaning” his gun who had fired it into the air. That the bullet landed where it did defies probability, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happened and cannot be undone.

While no one knowingly cleans a loaded gun, it is common for blackpowder hunters to unload their rifles at the end of a hunt by shooting them. Perhaps that’s what happened here, and if so, in an instant of carelessness someone ended a young girl’s life and ruined his own.

Be careful in 2012.

Comments (55)

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from KNX wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Why fire anything into the air when the ground is always so nearby?

+11 Good Comment? | | Report
from KNX wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Why fire anything into the air when the ground is always so nearby?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgtsly wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

There is no way on God's green earth I'm buying that story. Stay tuned is all I can tell you.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I'm not buying it either. A muzzle loader firing a round 1.5 miles? Don't think that is possible. And a fired round up in the air, and falling via gravity, can't hurt much let alone kill anyone.

-12 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

VERY Tragic, indeed...back a few years in MI, during a 4th of July holiday, a randum bullet fell to Earth thru a back screened porch roof and hit the homeowner's knee. Not certain how much energy a bullet falling from sky retains, verses a fired bullet still in flight, but the knee injury was signicant enough as quoted by the treating physician to say "if she had sustained a hit to the head, it probably would have caused death".
So, random bullet injury does occur...always be aware of your backstop is always a sound practice!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Sayfu, there's some pretty good physics that address this issue. I really doubt that the bullet was falling from gravity alone, as that would put almost back in the guys lap.

2600 yards is not that far when you start a bullet at a 40-45 degree angle. And those big slugs are going to retain all sorts of energy at that range too.

The stars pretty much had to align to get this all done, but ever notice how many things add up to tragedy so often?

I believe the story, in theory at least.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Google for it. You'll find lots of sources. Here's one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/21/amish-girl-shooting-gun-cleanin...

If the local sheriff believes it and the family involved in firing the gun came forward and admitted the round was discharged and their neighbors 1.5 miles from the dead girl acknowledge hearing the shot fired, then I think the story has merit. They are checking on ballistics to make sure but I really doubt anyone else was shooting a black powder gun at that time in that neighborhood. Circumstances are pretty convincing.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Orxy...They sure have improved muzzle loaders then. What I relate about muzzle loaders is their killing range is 150 yds. and less. It would appear to me as well, and what I was suggesting that shooting a bullet at a 45 does mean that gravity is pulling it down, I would say strictly just gravity the descending to earth yards. 2,600 yds seems a loooooong way to me for a muzzle loader bullet to travel. Phil will need to answer that one. I would say that is a long way for a 30-06 to travel.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Oryx wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I guess when I hear muzzleloader, I think of the stainless steel scope and sabot crowd. They will throw a conical ballistic-tipped round at a pretty high velocity.

Now if you're thinking patched round balls, then no way.

In my safety training a million years ago, I remember hearing that the rimfires were dangerous out past a mile, and a 30-06 had a "danger" range of three. I would imagine that's at the extreme range of things, but something to ponder.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I believe its possible. A friend found a muzzle loader slug on the floor of his bedroom. It had come thru the roof of his house. Nearest neighbor is a mile away. It was a saboted bullet as there was no rifling marks on it.
Of course no one in the area would fess up to it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

A ballistic miracle of the first water. Unfortunate.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

There was a guy in Yates County NY about 25+ years ago that got hit with a shotgun slug in the sternum while sitting on the ground on his deer stand. The slug, according to the newspaper, was at the "end of its trajectory". The paper had a picture of the guy holding the slug with zipper marks indented on it from his jacket. He got a mean bruise out of it. Had it hit him lower, it would be a different story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Still, the basic fact remains: There is no such thing as a gun "accident". They are all products of stupidity, carelessness and negligence.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Physics aside. The girl is dead from an errant bullet. This is the only part of the story that matters.

+8 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Country wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I would bet that a sabot round fired with 150 gr of pyrodex (SP?) at the right angle could and would go that farf and retain enough energey to at least cause some sort of fatal head wound. I don't think anyone said that there was gorry brain parts all around just that it killed her, and remember a concussion can kill someone. But like buckhunter said the fact of the matter is that a sray bullet hit her in the head and killed her. And that is still a sad and tragic accedent that could have been avoided.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Firing a rifle into the air is never acceptable, this is why. I can't imagine the guilt the shooter must feel or the grief of the family of the young girl.
Couldn't find a stump to fire it into? wtf?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from PawPaw wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

For those who doubt that black powder can propel a bullet that far with killing velocity, Google the term Sandy Hook Tests. Back in the day, the Army wanted to find out how far a .45-70 bullet would fly with lethal velocity. Answer? Long way. Very long way.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

To All: Mike Venturino, who knows his stuff when it comes to black powder, once told me that a bullet requires only 300 fps to be lethal, according to Army tests. I don't remember if it was dependent on caliber.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntslow wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

.22 LR ammunition has a 1 1/2 mile warning on the box. I would think there are many muzzleloader loads that would do at least that range. A avoidable tragedy no matter how you look at it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from A Wild Beast at... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

This terrible topic made me go back and review a similar case.

In 1983 in the city of São Paulo (Brazil) a child was injured by a .32 caliber bullet while slipping at home. The scientific police examined all the evidences and was able to trace the location of the shot to a point around 1,770 feet from the house.

Upon verifying ocurrences for that night it was discovered that a private security guard fired a shot into the air from his .32 S&W Long revolver to scare some one away. He faced legal charges.

Complete records of this incident can be found at the publication "Arquivos da Polícia Civil" (Estado de São Paulo), Volume XLI, 2nd half of 1983, by Dr. João Dadian and at "Revista Magnum" No. 13 (November/December 1988).

By the way, a projectile only needs around 160 fps to penetrate human skin.

Please, read my blog at http://awildbeastatheart.blogspot.com

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Too much of that shooting-in-the-air crap in the movies. I can't imagine what kind of hunting safety course that character could have passed that didn't emphasize the danger in firing a rifle into the air. The only gun to be shot in the air is a shotgun firing shot. Period.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from ohiodeerhunter wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Ontario Honker

I don't think the majority of Ohio's Amish hunters take the hunter safety course,also,as a lot of them just hunt their own farms,they don't have to buy a license or deer tags either to hunt their own land.

"Certain categories of persons are exempted from buying various licenses, permits, and/or stamps.

• Resident landowners, spouses and their children - Are not required to have a hunting license, fur taker permit, deer permit, antlerless deer permit, spring or fall turkey permit or Ohio Wetland Habitat Stamp when they are hunting or trapping on land they own and the landowner is an Ohio resident."

http://www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/dow/regulations/exemptions.aspx

There has been much discussion here about the range of a muzzleloader,and most people-myself included,think there is something about this story that is not being released to the public.
Sure, a sabot round,with a large powder charge might travel that far-but even that is a 1 in a million chance-
I think the guy who fired the muzzleloader was a bit closer than the 1.5 miles reported.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I remember about twenty years ago on new years eve a man in St. Louis shot his .44 in the air at midnight and the bullet came down and killed someone. He did confess he shot a .44, to his credit.
It happens.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from osurugby7 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

At first I was skeptical on this story involving a muzzleloader, but then I remembered a hunting trip last year where a guy hunting on the same property I did had a muzzleloader that was able to use smokeless powder. He claimed velocities were nearly equivalent to that off a centerfire .30 rifle. There may be more info to this story.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from spuddog wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

A while back in Phoenix, AZ this was a common occurence. I think someone was killed by a stray bullet once a year for a few years running. Once a girl and her friend went into the back yard on new years to look out at the stars and a bullet fell from the sky and took one of their lives. It wasn't uncommon to find a hole in your roof from stray bullets. When I lived their we stayed indoors on the holidays.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Regardless of the powder charge, range, or accurracy of all the components of this story, NEVER fire a rifle into the air. Anyone who wants to argue that should have their guns taken away.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Reminds me of the time during Tet when I was hunkered behind a sandbagged bunker and a spent bullet fell out of the sky and hit an old radiator next to my leg. I then got inside of the bunker, duh!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from smokey0347 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

sayfu--Arizona has a law on the books called "Shannon's Law." It was enacted for just that reason. A young girl named Shannon was killed by a New Years Eve reveler firing his gun into the air. Bullet came down and struck Shannon in the head killing her.
This is not the first case of this happening. It has been 'scientifically proven' that a simple dime (10 cent piece) dropped, not thrown, from the top of the Empire State Building would penetrate a human skull with enough force to kill. A muzzleloader's projectile is a lot heavier than a small thin dime.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ohiodeerhunter wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Here's something that was also discussed here in Ohio regarding this tragedy-Amish "buggy's" have a roof on them for protection from rain,snow,etc.
Accordinjg to the sherrifs report-there was no hole in the roof-which is why many people here believe there is more to this story that isn't being told to the public.

How could the round hit a person and not go through the roof at a range of a mile and a half?
Wouldn't the angle be so steep that a round would have to go through the roof in order to hit the person?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Most centerfire rifle cartridges are dangerous out to 5 miles...according to the warnings from ammo manufacturers and their box labels.

It's not uncommon to see muzzle loader enthusiasts and their club members ringing the 300-yard 10-inch steel plates here at Ben Avery range just north of Phoenix.

In 1999 here in Phoenix, a teen-aged girl named Shannon Smith was killed instantly by a pistol bullet that fell and struck her head after being shot up in the air by revelers.

At that time, discharging a firearm in city limits was a misdemeanor. Shannon's parents were outraged by the charge and campaigned vigorously to change the law. It is now a felony to discharge a firearm in city limits. And here is where the law of unintended consequences has hit hard in some cases. While Shannon's Smith story was certainly tragic and the perp should do prison time, the so-called "Shannon's Law" has been used to paint the word "FELON" on otherwise law-abiding citizens who had the bad fortune to need a firearm to defend themselves. This law is discriminately applied, in my opinion, which is an opinion shared corporately by the NRA, who fought this law....and lost.

If the police don't like you or your self-defense story, out come the FELONY charges, and you kiss your freedom and guns goodbye.

I think it would be OK to charge a felony to fire indiscriminately up into the air, such as to celebrate New Year's, or to "clean" your gun (stupid!) or whatever, but NOT for simply discharging a firearm in city limits.

The bottom line is that stupid actions by people handling firearms cost a lot of heartache, lives, and sorrow, to EVERYONE involved. In the case of Arizona's law, it can hurt gun owners in ways you haven't even imagined.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

With perfect conditions and no resistance a bullet that travels at 1500 feet per second can travel 13 miles at a perfect 45 degree angle. Obviously, in the real world things aren't perfect, but a bullet could easily travel 1.5 miles. Also, the velocities aren't going to change that much because a bullet doesn't have much resistance.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from micko77 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

No argumen here over ballistics; this isn't the first instance. Monmouth, IL, about 5-6 years ago a few local boys were shooting .22's at bottles and cans on a log. Over a mile away, two farmers were on a dirt road, stopped, facing opposite directions and talking when one slumped over the wheel. EMS treated him as a stroke patient until the CT found the bullet behind his ear. Yep, he died, and the kids went to jail for involuntary manslaughter. ALWAYS know your target and what is BEHIND it. It happens.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

The stupidity of some people has never failed to amaze and disgust me.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Count me among the believers. If anyone made up a story like that to conceal the truth behind a shooting, he would have to be incredibly optimistic.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Morgie wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

You can run the numbers in any ballistic calculator. For inputs, I used ICAO std temp & press, BC = .25, MV = 1500 fps. Yeah that bullet will be dangerous at 1.5 miles.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

If that girl was driving a closed "buggy," then yes, this accident gets pretty hard to explain if there's no hole in the carriage. She was alone and would have been sitting in the center of the vehicle. I looked at a number of these on line and it looks to me like she would have had to have been sitting well back under the top. The angle of trajectory would seem to have to have been fairly flat for her to be hit in the driver's seat. Hmmmmmm.

Literally speaking, a "buggy" refers to a light gig-like vehicle, usually with no more than collapsable rag top. A "carriage" refers to something a bit more substantial and usually with a permanent top. If the girl was shot in a true "buggy" as the reports indicate, then it may have been possible for the top to have been down.

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from Morgie wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Good point, Ont. Honker. For the aforementioned conditions, I find the bullet must leave at ~20 degrees above horizontal and will arrive at ~43 degrees above horizontal. TOF 16.4 seconds. Remaining V 335 fps. So, was she inboard about as far as she was below the top edge of the cover? Sorry for sounding somewhat grisly, but I did this sort of figuring in a previous line of work. Mostly, I feel very bad for the girl and those family members who survive her.

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Seems weak to be monday morning quarterbacking unless you're a foresic scientist in my opinion. If you are a forensic scientist or crime scene investigator then please tell us how it happened. Like most of you i distrust the media, but sometimes the argument is so distasteful (such as here) that it is not worth having. God bless the dead girl and her family and forgive the shooter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

That part about a bullet shot straight up in the air still being dangerous got me thinking about sky diving. Heard years ago that a sky diver falling flat with arms and legs extended reaches a terminal speed of about 120 mph, which is about 180 fps. A bullet is a lot more dense and a lot more aerodynamic than a sky diver. If the bullet isn't tumbling, it would be way more slippery than said sky diver. One would think that velocities of 300-500 fps might be possible in those circumstances? Certainly enough to kill someone. I always thought that shooting straight up or at a steep angle wouldn't be that dangerous, especially if the bullet was tumbling down. Going to have to rethink that after reading this column. Also how about squirrel hunters shooting up in trees with .22's? If one misses the squirrel and they're usually shot at steep angles, I wonder how fast those little 40 gr slugs are traveling when they come back to earth? Anybody ever see any data on it? Could even a .22 bullet kill someone in those circumstances? My brother does a lot of squirrel hunting with a .22, going to bring this up with him. Another reason I'm glad I don't live in an Islamic country is how many times have we seen on TV when they're in a festive mood, the troops fire full magazines of AK's into the air and in populated areas at that!!!

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Unfortunate accident, but I still look at the event with a jaundice eye and scratch my head. Physics say its possible, but not probable. If the shooter was within 800-yds; yeah...but this was close to 3k-yds. All sorts of exterior ballistics and physics come into play.

Something just doesn't play right on this event.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

I also think there's something not quite right about this story. Another thing that struck me as a bit odd was that the sheriff followed the blood trail back for quite a long distance. Girl was not shot in front of her house but the carriage arrived at the driveway and then she apparently died. Someone saw the horse going round in circles there. If she was hit and killed instantly one would think that the horse would have been going round in circles at that point. Perhaps she was not riding inside the buggy when she was hit but somehow managed to get back in and tried to drive home? The coroner's report should be very interesting. However, after seeing how the local coroner and then the Ontario Chief Coroner have deliberately botched the investigation into my son's death (to protect local doctors), I really don't have a lot of faith in their abilities. This has turned into a headlining scandal here. Well, what should we expect? In Ontario coroners and pathologists are only required to have some (actually any) kind of medical degree and pass a three day course to supply them with the expertise needed to solve deaths. Pfft! I am surprised the local coroner and pathologist who handled my son's death ever learned to tie their damned shoes, let alone finish med school! I can tell you those idiots were not at the top of their class! Which explains why they have to do what they're doing. Anyway, I do hope the attention this Amish case has received in the media will ensure that better expertise is involved in that investigation. I think it is important to us gun owners to understand EXACTLY what happened. And, of course, I know from experience how important it is for the family to get proper closure to this terrible event.

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from Morgie wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Mark-1, I don't know if this will help, but here's a way of thinking about it. What is the possibility of a meteoroid hitting the earth? About zero, is the answer. However, there are so darn many meteoroids that it happens all the time. Transfer that thought to negligent discharges. Here, the chance of a negligent discharge hitting someone is nil, but there are millions of human targets and thousands of negligent discharges. So it happens. I looked into many of these unbelievable cases in my earlier work. Now if this were intentional, to my mind it would be an impossible shot with this equipment, for all the reasons you mention. Note that I am only saying it is possible; I'll wait for the forensic report like everyone else. My calculator inputs were only guesses. I used a low end BC and a normal top MV. A higher BC would give a higher terminal velocity and a lower angle of impact. A round ball would never make it that far at blackpowder velocity, as one might suspect.

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from JohnR wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

I would opine that the majority of muzzle loader hunters have switched to the in-line type rifle except in states such as Pennsylvania that limit black powder weapons to actual primitive weapons i.e. flintlock or patch and round ball. I see ads for many of the in-line black powder rifles claiming 2,300 - 2,500 fps. A bullet fired at a 40 to 60 degree angle at the aforementioned velocity can and does travel a long way. Without getting out the calculator and my calculus book, I can explain it simply as this.
Everyone here knows from physics that if you drop a 150 grain bullet (just the projectile) from 5 feet above the ground, and you shoot a 150 gr. bullet from a horizontally leveled 30-06 placed 5 feet above the ground, both bullets will hit the ground at the same time. Consequently if you fire a projectile from your shoulder at 2300 fps, one must remember aside from deceleration of the projectile that if the same bullet dropped from the height of your shoulder takes .75 seconds to hit the ground then the bullet fired from the rifle will travel slightly less (due to deceleration) than .75 times the initial velocity (or .75 X 2,300).
That is about as simple as it gets.
As far as coins dropped from the empire state building and bullets fired vertically (as in straight up), Mythbusters covered that topic very scientifically and thoroughly on one of their shows. It was determined that a coin dropped from a tall building and a bullet fired straight up did not have the mass to cause a fatal injury based upon penetration into a known media. When the bullet is fired straight up, when it reaches it's height limit, it's velocity is zero and it's return velocity to earth is wholly dependent upon gravity and it's mass. It is a completely different set of circumstances than a bullet fired on an angled trajectory.

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from JohnR wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Oh I almost forgot; Cabela's sells or used to sell a CO2 deloader for safely removing a projectile from a muzzleloader after the primitive weapons season. It's too bad the guy didn't use one.

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from lamson yankee wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

When I read this article I almost said no-way but after a few moments of thought....logistics said yeh. What was this dude thinking?!! A life is taken and this guys mental life is also taken,all in yhe name of stupidity!!!This also makes me think of the news broadcasts on the middle east rallys fireing all those rounds in the air.Talk about mindless ass#@@#@.

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from PigHunter wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Birmingham, AL and other larger cities have installed shot location systems. These systems use a grid of microphones and high-speed communication to feed data to a computer to locate the source of a gunshot. Cities with such systems are seeing almost a 50% drop in random gunfire.

The City of Birmingham police use the system on New Year's and the 4th of July holidays to spot random gunfire and the illegal use of fireworks.
http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/07/birmingham-area_police_aim_to.html

Shot Spotter Website:
http://www.shotspotter.com/

http://defense-update.com/features/2008/november/231108_sniper_detection...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sarg wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Well, it could happen, one day my wife and I were planting flowers in the yard. I could hear someone off in the distance shooting, when my neighbor's little boy grabbed his ear and threw down his bike running into their house crying. I laughed and told my wife that a wasp must have gotten him. A few seconds latter a bullet hit the ground besideme and assended about 20 feet into the air, landing in a gravel lot about 30 yards away. I walked iover and picked up an armour peircing bullet.. I got in my car and drove around until I found who was shooting. A frien I knew was shooting surplus .30 cal. bullets with a limestone clift as a backstop. The bullets hitting the clift was traveling about 1-1/2 miles over a hill to my neighbor hood. I still have the steel core bullet in my gun case as a reminder.

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from scorp wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

SayFu obviously you know nothing about the laws of gravity and physics.Please try to know something about the topic before you speak.

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from Tony Berg wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

If the bullet was fired at an exact 90 degree angle from earth the bullet should hit the ground with the same velocity and force that it left the barrel of the gun. However, if fired at a 45 degree angle from ground (Which it would have to be near that to travel such a distance) the actual force of the bullet at impact would not be the same at the point it left the barrel. It would be possible to figure the force taking into account wind resistance acceleration/deaccerleration due to gravity, velocity of bullet at barrel, angle of trajectory, and mass. Feel free to do the math. This is a sad story, and is a lesson to everyone to always fire your weapon in a safe direction.

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from Gtbigsky wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

What a shame! even though the probability of something like this happening are so little that they seem nearly impossible its a very hard lesson learned that you are always safe 100% of time when handling firearms. discharging a muzzleloader in the air is a really bad idea. I hope that it was an accident and that the man who shot it iisnt a big enough bonehead to do such a stupid thing on purpose.

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from Gimpergoo wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Cleaning a loaded firearm?! WHAT! First off if your stupid enough to try and clean a loaded firearm and to discharge by firing into the air...Well you shouldnt be aloud to handle a firearm.

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from Larry E Landers wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

People die from falling over and hitting their temple on the corner of a coffee table. I would say that a bullet falling from the sky would have at least as much energy. Death from a head wound doesn't have to mean having your brains blown out!

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from Paula Coyle wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

I agree, this sure could have been avoided, regardless of whether a muzzleloader slug can make it a mile and retain lethal kinetic energy. The point is SOMEONE shot carelessly. If anyone empties anything but shotshells (at a bird) into the air like that they are being criminally negligent. He couldn't have known there was no one out there except maybe someone out past a mile away. How many people did that bullet thankfully MISS/fly over before tragically hitting her?

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from Paula Coyle wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

"If the bullet was fired at an exact 90 degree angle from earth the bullet should hit the ground with the same velocity and force that it left the barrel of the gun. "

Not true. There is no propulsion pushing the bullet back down except gravity. It will reach terminal velocity and no more because there were never any expanding gasses behind it coming back down (remember it reaches zero at the top of the arc so essentially it would be the same as dropping the bullet from that point).

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from hutter wrote 2 years 13 weeks ago

It's too bad we have people like SAYFU that can't see past their short sight. Stupid is stupid. 33 feet per second squared is the rate at which objects fall. Which means (sayfu) that for every 33 feet the object falls the speed is doubled. In sayfu terms that means objects speed up on a downward path NOT slow down

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from KNX wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Why fire anything into the air when the ground is always so nearby?

+11 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Physics aside. The girl is dead from an errant bullet. This is the only part of the story that matters.

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from Harold wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Still, the basic fact remains: There is no such thing as a gun "accident". They are all products of stupidity, carelessness and negligence.

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from Oryx wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Sayfu, there's some pretty good physics that address this issue. I really doubt that the bullet was falling from gravity alone, as that would put almost back in the guys lap.

2600 yards is not that far when you start a bullet at a 40-45 degree angle. And those big slugs are going to retain all sorts of energy at that range too.

The stars pretty much had to align to get this all done, but ever notice how many things add up to tragedy so often?

I believe the story, in theory at least.

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from PawPaw wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

For those who doubt that black powder can propel a bullet that far with killing velocity, Google the term Sandy Hook Tests. Back in the day, the Army wanted to find out how far a .45-70 bullet would fly with lethal velocity. Answer? Long way. Very long way.

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from davidpetzal wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

To All: Mike Venturino, who knows his stuff when it comes to black powder, once told me that a bullet requires only 300 fps to be lethal, according to Army tests. I don't remember if it was dependent on caliber.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Too much of that shooting-in-the-air crap in the movies. I can't imagine what kind of hunting safety course that character could have passed that didn't emphasize the danger in firing a rifle into the air. The only gun to be shot in the air is a shotgun firing shot. Period.

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from spuddog wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

A while back in Phoenix, AZ this was a common occurence. I think someone was killed by a stray bullet once a year for a few years running. Once a girl and her friend went into the back yard on new years to look out at the stars and a bullet fell from the sky and took one of their lives. It wasn't uncommon to find a hole in your roof from stray bullets. When I lived their we stayed indoors on the holidays.

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from Proverbs wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Most centerfire rifle cartridges are dangerous out to 5 miles...according to the warnings from ammo manufacturers and their box labels.

It's not uncommon to see muzzle loader enthusiasts and their club members ringing the 300-yard 10-inch steel plates here at Ben Avery range just north of Phoenix.

In 1999 here in Phoenix, a teen-aged girl named Shannon Smith was killed instantly by a pistol bullet that fell and struck her head after being shot up in the air by revelers.

At that time, discharging a firearm in city limits was a misdemeanor. Shannon's parents were outraged by the charge and campaigned vigorously to change the law. It is now a felony to discharge a firearm in city limits. And here is where the law of unintended consequences has hit hard in some cases. While Shannon's Smith story was certainly tragic and the perp should do prison time, the so-called "Shannon's Law" has been used to paint the word "FELON" on otherwise law-abiding citizens who had the bad fortune to need a firearm to defend themselves. This law is discriminately applied, in my opinion, which is an opinion shared corporately by the NRA, who fought this law....and lost.

If the police don't like you or your self-defense story, out come the FELONY charges, and you kiss your freedom and guns goodbye.

I think it would be OK to charge a felony to fire indiscriminately up into the air, such as to celebrate New Year's, or to "clean" your gun (stupid!) or whatever, but NOT for simply discharging a firearm in city limits.

The bottom line is that stupid actions by people handling firearms cost a lot of heartache, lives, and sorrow, to EVERYONE involved. In the case of Arizona's law, it can hurt gun owners in ways you haven't even imagined.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

VERY Tragic, indeed...back a few years in MI, during a 4th of July holiday, a randum bullet fell to Earth thru a back screened porch roof and hit the homeowner's knee. Not certain how much energy a bullet falling from sky retains, verses a fired bullet still in flight, but the knee injury was signicant enough as quoted by the treating physician to say "if she had sustained a hit to the head, it probably would have caused death".
So, random bullet injury does occur...always be aware of your backstop is always a sound practice!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Google for it. You'll find lots of sources. Here's one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/21/amish-girl-shooting-gun-cleanin...

If the local sheriff believes it and the family involved in firing the gun came forward and admitted the round was discharged and their neighbors 1.5 miles from the dead girl acknowledge hearing the shot fired, then I think the story has merit. They are checking on ballistics to make sure but I really doubt anyone else was shooting a black powder gun at that time in that neighborhood. Circumstances are pretty convincing.

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Firing a rifle into the air is never acceptable, this is why. I can't imagine the guilt the shooter must feel or the grief of the family of the young girl.
Couldn't find a stump to fire it into? wtf?

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from A Wild Beast at... wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

This terrible topic made me go back and review a similar case.

In 1983 in the city of São Paulo (Brazil) a child was injured by a .32 caliber bullet while slipping at home. The scientific police examined all the evidences and was able to trace the location of the shot to a point around 1,770 feet from the house.

Upon verifying ocurrences for that night it was discovered that a private security guard fired a shot into the air from his .32 S&W Long revolver to scare some one away. He faced legal charges.

Complete records of this incident can be found at the publication "Arquivos da Polícia Civil" (Estado de São Paulo), Volume XLI, 2nd half of 1983, by Dr. João Dadian and at "Revista Magnum" No. 13 (November/December 1988).

By the way, a projectile only needs around 160 fps to penetrate human skin.

Please, read my blog at http://awildbeastatheart.blogspot.com

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from Jim in Mo wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I remember about twenty years ago on new years eve a man in St. Louis shot his .44 in the air at midnight and the bullet came down and killed someone. He did confess he shot a .44, to his credit.
It happens.

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Regardless of the powder charge, range, or accurracy of all the components of this story, NEVER fire a rifle into the air. Anyone who wants to argue that should have their guns taken away.

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from smokey0347 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

sayfu--Arizona has a law on the books called "Shannon's Law." It was enacted for just that reason. A young girl named Shannon was killed by a New Years Eve reveler firing his gun into the air. Bullet came down and struck Shannon in the head killing her.
This is not the first case of this happening. It has been 'scientifically proven' that a simple dime (10 cent piece) dropped, not thrown, from the top of the Empire State Building would penetrate a human skull with enough force to kill. A muzzleloader's projectile is a lot heavier than a small thin dime.

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from Oryx wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I guess when I hear muzzleloader, I think of the stainless steel scope and sabot crowd. They will throw a conical ballistic-tipped round at a pretty high velocity.

Now if you're thinking patched round balls, then no way.

In my safety training a million years ago, I remember hearing that the rimfires were dangerous out past a mile, and a 30-06 had a "danger" range of three. I would imagine that's at the extreme range of things, but something to ponder.

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from Douglas wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I believe its possible. A friend found a muzzle loader slug on the floor of his bedroom. It had come thru the roof of his house. Nearest neighbor is a mile away. It was a saboted bullet as there was no rifling marks on it.
Of course no one in the area would fess up to it.

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from Big Country wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I would bet that a sabot round fired with 150 gr of pyrodex (SP?) at the right angle could and would go that farf and retain enough energey to at least cause some sort of fatal head wound. I don't think anyone said that there was gorry brain parts all around just that it killed her, and remember a concussion can kill someone. But like buckhunter said the fact of the matter is that a sray bullet hit her in the head and killed her. And that is still a sad and tragic accedent that could have been avoided.

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from osurugby7 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

At first I was skeptical on this story involving a muzzleloader, but then I remembered a hunting trip last year where a guy hunting on the same property I did had a muzzleloader that was able to use smokeless powder. He claimed velocities were nearly equivalent to that off a centerfire .30 rifle. There may be more info to this story.

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from duckcreekdick wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Reminds me of the time during Tet when I was hunkered behind a sandbagged bunker and a spent bullet fell out of the sky and hit an old radiator next to my leg. I then got inside of the bunker, duh!

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from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

The stupidity of some people has never failed to amaze and disgust me.

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from Morgie wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Good point, Ont. Honker. For the aforementioned conditions, I find the bullet must leave at ~20 degrees above horizontal and will arrive at ~43 degrees above horizontal. TOF 16.4 seconds. Remaining V 335 fps. So, was she inboard about as far as she was below the top edge of the cover? Sorry for sounding somewhat grisly, but I did this sort of figuring in a previous line of work. Mostly, I feel very bad for the girl and those family members who survive her.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

I also think there's something not quite right about this story. Another thing that struck me as a bit odd was that the sheriff followed the blood trail back for quite a long distance. Girl was not shot in front of her house but the carriage arrived at the driveway and then she apparently died. Someone saw the horse going round in circles there. If she was hit and killed instantly one would think that the horse would have been going round in circles at that point. Perhaps she was not riding inside the buggy when she was hit but somehow managed to get back in and tried to drive home? The coroner's report should be very interesting. However, after seeing how the local coroner and then the Ontario Chief Coroner have deliberately botched the investigation into my son's death (to protect local doctors), I really don't have a lot of faith in their abilities. This has turned into a headlining scandal here. Well, what should we expect? In Ontario coroners and pathologists are only required to have some (actually any) kind of medical degree and pass a three day course to supply them with the expertise needed to solve deaths. Pfft! I am surprised the local coroner and pathologist who handled my son's death ever learned to tie their damned shoes, let alone finish med school! I can tell you those idiots were not at the top of their class! Which explains why they have to do what they're doing. Anyway, I do hope the attention this Amish case has received in the media will ensure that better expertise is involved in that investigation. I think it is important to us gun owners to understand EXACTLY what happened. And, of course, I know from experience how important it is for the family to get proper closure to this terrible event.

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from sgtsly wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

There is no way on God's green earth I'm buying that story. Stay tuned is all I can tell you.

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from Douglas wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

There was a guy in Yates County NY about 25+ years ago that got hit with a shotgun slug in the sternum while sitting on the ground on his deer stand. The slug, according to the newspaper, was at the "end of its trajectory". The paper had a picture of the guy holding the slug with zipper marks indented on it from his jacket. He got a mean bruise out of it. Had it hit him lower, it would be a different story.

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from huntslow wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

.22 LR ammunition has a 1 1/2 mile warning on the box. I would think there are many muzzleloader loads that would do at least that range. A avoidable tragedy no matter how you look at it.

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from ohiodeerhunter wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Here's something that was also discussed here in Ohio regarding this tragedy-Amish "buggy's" have a roof on them for protection from rain,snow,etc.
Accordinjg to the sherrifs report-there was no hole in the roof-which is why many people here believe there is more to this story that isn't being told to the public.

How could the round hit a person and not go through the roof at a range of a mile and a half?
Wouldn't the angle be so steep that a round would have to go through the roof in order to hit the person?

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from badsmerf wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

With perfect conditions and no resistance a bullet that travels at 1500 feet per second can travel 13 miles at a perfect 45 degree angle. Obviously, in the real world things aren't perfect, but a bullet could easily travel 1.5 miles. Also, the velocities aren't going to change that much because a bullet doesn't have much resistance.

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from micko77 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

No argumen here over ballistics; this isn't the first instance. Monmouth, IL, about 5-6 years ago a few local boys were shooting .22's at bottles and cans on a log. Over a mile away, two farmers were on a dirt road, stopped, facing opposite directions and talking when one slumped over the wheel. EMS treated him as a stroke patient until the CT found the bullet behind his ear. Yep, he died, and the kids went to jail for involuntary manslaughter. ALWAYS know your target and what is BEHIND it. It happens.

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Unfortunate accident, but I still look at the event with a jaundice eye and scratch my head. Physics say its possible, but not probable. If the shooter was within 800-yds; yeah...but this was close to 3k-yds. All sorts of exterior ballistics and physics come into play.

Something just doesn't play right on this event.

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from JohnR wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

I would opine that the majority of muzzle loader hunters have switched to the in-line type rifle except in states such as Pennsylvania that limit black powder weapons to actual primitive weapons i.e. flintlock or patch and round ball. I see ads for many of the in-line black powder rifles claiming 2,300 - 2,500 fps. A bullet fired at a 40 to 60 degree angle at the aforementioned velocity can and does travel a long way. Without getting out the calculator and my calculus book, I can explain it simply as this.
Everyone here knows from physics that if you drop a 150 grain bullet (just the projectile) from 5 feet above the ground, and you shoot a 150 gr. bullet from a horizontally leveled 30-06 placed 5 feet above the ground, both bullets will hit the ground at the same time. Consequently if you fire a projectile from your shoulder at 2300 fps, one must remember aside from deceleration of the projectile that if the same bullet dropped from the height of your shoulder takes .75 seconds to hit the ground then the bullet fired from the rifle will travel slightly less (due to deceleration) than .75 times the initial velocity (or .75 X 2,300).
That is about as simple as it gets.
As far as coins dropped from the empire state building and bullets fired vertically (as in straight up), Mythbusters covered that topic very scientifically and thoroughly on one of their shows. It was determined that a coin dropped from a tall building and a bullet fired straight up did not have the mass to cause a fatal injury based upon penetration into a known media. When the bullet is fired straight up, when it reaches it's height limit, it's velocity is zero and it's return velocity to earth is wholly dependent upon gravity and it's mass. It is a completely different set of circumstances than a bullet fired on an angled trajectory.

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from sarg wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Well, it could happen, one day my wife and I were planting flowers in the yard. I could hear someone off in the distance shooting, when my neighbor's little boy grabbed his ear and threw down his bike running into their house crying. I laughed and told my wife that a wasp must have gotten him. A few seconds latter a bullet hit the ground besideme and assended about 20 feet into the air, landing in a gravel lot about 30 yards away. I walked iover and picked up an armour peircing bullet.. I got in my car and drove around until I found who was shooting. A frien I knew was shooting surplus .30 cal. bullets with a limestone clift as a backstop. The bullets hitting the clift was traveling about 1-1/2 miles over a hill to my neighbor hood. I still have the steel core bullet in my gun case as a reminder.

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from Paula Coyle wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

I agree, this sure could have been avoided, regardless of whether a muzzleloader slug can make it a mile and retain lethal kinetic energy. The point is SOMEONE shot carelessly. If anyone empties anything but shotshells (at a bird) into the air like that they are being criminally negligent. He couldn't have known there was no one out there except maybe someone out past a mile away. How many people did that bullet thankfully MISS/fly over before tragically hitting her?

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from KNX wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Why fire anything into the air when the ground is always so nearby?

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

A ballistic miracle of the first water. Unfortunate.

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from ohiodeerhunter wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Ontario Honker

I don't think the majority of Ohio's Amish hunters take the hunter safety course,also,as a lot of them just hunt their own farms,they don't have to buy a license or deer tags either to hunt their own land.

"Certain categories of persons are exempted from buying various licenses, permits, and/or stamps.

• Resident landowners, spouses and their children - Are not required to have a hunting license, fur taker permit, deer permit, antlerless deer permit, spring or fall turkey permit or Ohio Wetland Habitat Stamp when they are hunting or trapping on land they own and the landowner is an Ohio resident."

http://www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/dow/regulations/exemptions.aspx

There has been much discussion here about the range of a muzzleloader,and most people-myself included,think there is something about this story that is not being released to the public.
Sure, a sabot round,with a large powder charge might travel that far-but even that is a 1 in a million chance-
I think the guy who fired the muzzleloader was a bit closer than the 1.5 miles reported.

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from 99explorer wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Count me among the believers. If anyone made up a story like that to conceal the truth behind a shooting, he would have to be incredibly optimistic.

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from Morgie wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

You can run the numbers in any ballistic calculator. For inputs, I used ICAO std temp & press, BC = .25, MV = 1500 fps. Yeah that bullet will be dangerous at 1.5 miles.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

If that girl was driving a closed "buggy," then yes, this accident gets pretty hard to explain if there's no hole in the carriage. She was alone and would have been sitting in the center of the vehicle. I looked at a number of these on line and it looks to me like she would have had to have been sitting well back under the top. The angle of trajectory would seem to have to have been fairly flat for her to be hit in the driver's seat. Hmmmmmm.

Literally speaking, a "buggy" refers to a light gig-like vehicle, usually with no more than collapsable rag top. A "carriage" refers to something a bit more substantial and usually with a permanent top. If the girl was shot in a true "buggy" as the reports indicate, then it may have been possible for the top to have been down.

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Seems weak to be monday morning quarterbacking unless you're a foresic scientist in my opinion. If you are a forensic scientist or crime scene investigator then please tell us how it happened. Like most of you i distrust the media, but sometimes the argument is so distasteful (such as here) that it is not worth having. God bless the dead girl and her family and forgive the shooter.

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from mike55 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

That part about a bullet shot straight up in the air still being dangerous got me thinking about sky diving. Heard years ago that a sky diver falling flat with arms and legs extended reaches a terminal speed of about 120 mph, which is about 180 fps. A bullet is a lot more dense and a lot more aerodynamic than a sky diver. If the bullet isn't tumbling, it would be way more slippery than said sky diver. One would think that velocities of 300-500 fps might be possible in those circumstances? Certainly enough to kill someone. I always thought that shooting straight up or at a steep angle wouldn't be that dangerous, especially if the bullet was tumbling down. Going to have to rethink that after reading this column. Also how about squirrel hunters shooting up in trees with .22's? If one misses the squirrel and they're usually shot at steep angles, I wonder how fast those little 40 gr slugs are traveling when they come back to earth? Anybody ever see any data on it? Could even a .22 bullet kill someone in those circumstances? My brother does a lot of squirrel hunting with a .22, going to bring this up with him. Another reason I'm glad I don't live in an Islamic country is how many times have we seen on TV when they're in a festive mood, the troops fire full magazines of AK's into the air and in populated areas at that!!!

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from Morgie wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Mark-1, I don't know if this will help, but here's a way of thinking about it. What is the possibility of a meteoroid hitting the earth? About zero, is the answer. However, there are so darn many meteoroids that it happens all the time. Transfer that thought to negligent discharges. Here, the chance of a negligent discharge hitting someone is nil, but there are millions of human targets and thousands of negligent discharges. So it happens. I looked into many of these unbelievable cases in my earlier work. Now if this were intentional, to my mind it would be an impossible shot with this equipment, for all the reasons you mention. Note that I am only saying it is possible; I'll wait for the forensic report like everyone else. My calculator inputs were only guesses. I used a low end BC and a normal top MV. A higher BC would give a higher terminal velocity and a lower angle of impact. A round ball would never make it that far at blackpowder velocity, as one might suspect.

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from JohnR wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Oh I almost forgot; Cabela's sells or used to sell a CO2 deloader for safely removing a projectile from a muzzleloader after the primitive weapons season. It's too bad the guy didn't use one.

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from lamson yankee wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

When I read this article I almost said no-way but after a few moments of thought....logistics said yeh. What was this dude thinking?!! A life is taken and this guys mental life is also taken,all in yhe name of stupidity!!!This also makes me think of the news broadcasts on the middle east rallys fireing all those rounds in the air.Talk about mindless ass#@@#@.

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from PigHunter wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Birmingham, AL and other larger cities have installed shot location systems. These systems use a grid of microphones and high-speed communication to feed data to a computer to locate the source of a gunshot. Cities with such systems are seeing almost a 50% drop in random gunfire.

The City of Birmingham police use the system on New Year's and the 4th of July holidays to spot random gunfire and the illegal use of fireworks.
http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/07/birmingham-area_police_aim_to.html

Shot Spotter Website:
http://www.shotspotter.com/

http://defense-update.com/features/2008/november/231108_sniper_detection...

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from scorp wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

SayFu obviously you know nothing about the laws of gravity and physics.Please try to know something about the topic before you speak.

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from Gtbigsky wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

What a shame! even though the probability of something like this happening are so little that they seem nearly impossible its a very hard lesson learned that you are always safe 100% of time when handling firearms. discharging a muzzleloader in the air is a really bad idea. I hope that it was an accident and that the man who shot it iisnt a big enough bonehead to do such a stupid thing on purpose.

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from Gimpergoo wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Cleaning a loaded firearm?! WHAT! First off if your stupid enough to try and clean a loaded firearm and to discharge by firing into the air...Well you shouldnt be aloud to handle a firearm.

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from Larry E Landers wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

People die from falling over and hitting their temple on the corner of a coffee table. I would say that a bullet falling from the sky would have at least as much energy. Death from a head wound doesn't have to mean having your brains blown out!

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from Paula Coyle wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

"If the bullet was fired at an exact 90 degree angle from earth the bullet should hit the ground with the same velocity and force that it left the barrel of the gun. "

Not true. There is no propulsion pushing the bullet back down except gravity. It will reach terminal velocity and no more because there were never any expanding gasses behind it coming back down (remember it reaches zero at the top of the arc so essentially it would be the same as dropping the bullet from that point).

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from hutter wrote 2 years 13 weeks ago

It's too bad we have people like SAYFU that can't see past their short sight. Stupid is stupid. 33 feet per second squared is the rate at which objects fall. Which means (sayfu) that for every 33 feet the object falls the speed is doubled. In sayfu terms that means objects speed up on a downward path NOT slow down

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from Tony Berg wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

If the bullet was fired at an exact 90 degree angle from earth the bullet should hit the ground with the same velocity and force that it left the barrel of the gun. However, if fired at a 45 degree angle from ground (Which it would have to be near that to travel such a distance) the actual force of the bullet at impact would not be the same at the point it left the barrel. It would be possible to figure the force taking into account wind resistance acceleration/deaccerleration due to gravity, velocity of bullet at barrel, angle of trajectory, and mass. Feel free to do the math. This is a sad story, and is a lesson to everyone to always fire your weapon in a safe direction.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Orxy...They sure have improved muzzle loaders then. What I relate about muzzle loaders is their killing range is 150 yds. and less. It would appear to me as well, and what I was suggesting that shooting a bullet at a 45 does mean that gravity is pulling it down, I would say strictly just gravity the descending to earth yards. 2,600 yds seems a loooooong way to me for a muzzle loader bullet to travel. Phil will need to answer that one. I would say that is a long way for a 30-06 to travel.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I'm not buying it either. A muzzle loader firing a round 1.5 miles? Don't think that is possible. And a fired round up in the air, and falling via gravity, can't hurt much let alone kill anyone.

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