External ballistics is the study of the missile -s flight from when it leaves the muzzle until it strikes the target. It is an extremely complicated subject and before the advent of powerful desktop computers, the calculations were laborious and time consuming, requiring the use of many mathematical tables. With modern computers and ballistic programmes, it is now possible to calculate the most complex trajectory equations with just a few key strokes.
The two main factors which affect the performance of a bullet on leaving the barrel are air resistance on its nose and the effect of the gravitational pull of the earth. As a result of these forces, the bullet will, on leaving the barrel, describe a downward curved path or trajectory.
The exact shape of this trajectory can be predetermined by knowing:
• the gravitational effect;
• the muzzle velocity;
• the angle of elevation of the barrel;
• the sectional density of the bullet;
The rate of fall can easily determined by using the formula
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