Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Riot gun part 8: skip shooting

Skip shooting is bouncing your shotgun pattern off of a hard-surfaced wall or street. It is of possible use for engaging an assailant peeking around a corner, or for passing some shot underneath a car to hit him in the feet and ankles. You aim ahead of the point you want to hit and let the shot skim along the wall or street to the target. The most frequent use in the past was to discourage rioting mobs by shooting at the street in front of them, with the result of many random leg wounds. Skip shooting is not a technique that is now often used, or useful. It is part of the lore of shotguns, though, and it knowing about it might conceivably come in handy.

This old FBI training video will give you a clearer idea than any text description of what is going on in ricochets off walls and roads. The relevant portions are from 3:36 to 6:35.

In skip shooting you produce intentional ricochets by firing at a shallow angle at a hard surface. Some people say that ricocheting buckshot "follows the wall" or "flies parallel to the street," but that is not quite right. Your shot cloud changes direction when it hits and its shape changes too. Pattern shape flattens out from approximately circular to more nearly oval. The ricocheting pattern leaves the wall or street at a flatter angle than intuition suggests. Intuition would say that the ricochet leaves at an angle about equal to a mirror image of the incoming angle; not so. But the flight direction of the ricochet is not quite parallel to the wall or road either; instead, it rises away at a shallower angle than it had when it hit. In practical terms you may think of it as nearly parallel, but not quite.

Some training courses tell you to stay a foot or so away from hard-surfaced walls, to avoid skimming ricochets that follow walls. Some likewise advise that you stand back from your cover when shooting around a corner--the reasoning is the same.

A rather dry abstract at the NCJRS about ricochet ballistics can be found here:

Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Bouncing Bullets," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Vol. 38, Oct. 1969, pp. 1–9.

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