Gunfire is a military tradition that is prevalent in many countries. Shooting is not only for state visits, in honor of the deceased or on the birthday of the ruler in monarchies. You can also witness aerial shots at the opening ceremonies of many celebrations. But isn’t it dangerous and irresponsible to just shoot in the air?

The answer is No, normally no bullet flies out of there. The weapons are not loaded with live ammunition. During a Gun Salute the so-called firecrackers are shot. The weapons only contain black powder or blank cartridges. The reason for using blank cartridges is very simple. If it were live ammunition, it would be dangerous because whatever goes up must come down again. This is the law of gravity.

So what happens when you shoot into the air with a real bullet?

Bullet after gun salute

Since the shooters do not normally shoot vertically into the air, the projectile will travel a certain distance and it depends on several factors where it will land. The decisive factors are the initial speed, the mass and the shape of the projectile. At some point, it comes down quite normally, with the pointy end forward and it might also be dangerous.

Deadly recklessness and Fatal injuries

Injury by bullet after gun salute

The speed of the bullet on impact strongly depends on the type of weapon and the shape of the projectile. The expert estimates that a ball can have a speed of up to 200 meters per second or more even at the end of its trajectory due to its aerodynamically favorable shape. It could cause fatal injuries if it hits someone, and it has happened again and again. Especially on New Year’s Eve, the people who have weapons, legally or illegally, shoot with live ammunition. They think the bullet is harmless when it comes down but it isn’t. It is as harmful as a live round fired at someone from a distance because gravity also plays a role in bringing the bullet back to earth adding to the speed of the bullet.

Incidentally, 21 shots are usually fired for state visits most of the countries. In the United States, the number of shots depends upon the importance of personality, there is a maximum of 21 shots only for the President. The Minister of Defense is honored with 19 shots, senior generals with 11 to 17 shots. In India as well, we shoot 21 bullets to honor someone.

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