firearms

KN, p. 271 “The Impact of Weather on Guns and Bullets”

BulletsIMG_2261

Not long ago, a writer mentioned in a Facebook thread that cold must have an adverse effect on firing accuracy. Well, yes and no. Assuming that the shooter is a crack shot, it depends on the firearm, the type of bullet, the type of shooting involved, and how extreme the weather is.

 

Both extreme heat and extreme cold can affect the trajectory of a bullet. ‘Extreme’ in this post refers to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and below zero.

 

Cold air might cause a more noticeable variation in the bullet path than warm air. Cold air can slow down bullets because cold air is more dense, so it’s harder for the bullet to move through it when longer distances are involved. Hunters might choose a different shaped bullet to help with this issue, but the bullet shape and air density really only comes into play for most shooters when the deer is over 300 yards away – the distance of three football fields. But, even at 200 yards, tests have shown that any bullet drop caused by the cold is only going to be a tenth of an inch.

 

Cold can cause misfires as a result of using the wrong cleaning oil for the weapons – one that’s not meant for cold temperatures. Oil that gets gummy with temperature variation doesn’t help any shooter, whether using rifles or handguns. Read “Did you clean your gun this week?”

 

‘External ballistics’ refers to what happens after the bullet leaves the firearm.

 

It can get really windy in the dead of winter, what with huge storm fronts moving in. I wouldn’t want to step a foot away from my toasty house when the wind chill makes me miserable just to be outside, but law enforcement officers in our far Northern States sometimes don’t have a choice. SWAT teams have to take into consideration the effect that the wind, added to the cold, will have on any distance shots they need to take. Wind is unpredictable and rarely constant, and can affect the shot anywhere along the path of the bullet. However, most hostage situations or other interactions with the bad guys, take place at under a 100 yards, which greatly reduces the firing challenges law enforcement might face, to practically non-existent.

 

Over 300-400 yards (mainly applying to snipers in the field, or hunters in the mountains) a windy day does make a fairly large difference when adjusting for the shot. Experts and charts tell us that at temperatures around zero, a bullet can shift wide by as much as four inches off target and drop as much as 2 inches, than if the same shot was made at 90 degrees Fahrenheit at that range. Plus, the greater the distance, the more the variation.

 

Here’s an interesting comparison of shots made by those long distance shooters in different air temperatures, without wind or other factors to interfere.

The target is 1000 yards away – about ten football fields:

  • In 68 degree weather, moderate by most standards, the target can be hit dead center.
  • On a slightly colder day, 50 degrees, without making adjustments to body or gun position, the shooter will miss low, by 6-12 inches.
  • On a hot day of 86 degrees, again without making any body or firearm adjustments, the shooter will miss high, by 6-12 inches.

 

But wait. The gunpowder in the bullet can be affected by the cold as well. Some gunpowder is temperature sensitive, so if you load your own bullets and live in an area with extreme temperatures, you need to buy the temperature insensitive type. The wrong gunpowder in the bullet can slow its velocity. Added to the dense cold air issue, it’s a recipe for missing the long distance target. To be honest, today’s ammo manufacturers are more in tune with customers wanting fewer misses related to this issue, and several temperature insensitive options are readily available.

 

These days, there doesn’t have to be much guesswork involved in adjusting for wind and temperature variations. There are apps for that. If a phone has enough bars out in the woods, the average hunter can get online and check out a ballistic calculator with charts to help with corrections for the conditions being experienced.

 

Law enforcement officers in the steamy South face different obstacles when dealing with heat. Higher temperatures result in gunpowder burning faster, which then causes higher bullet speed. A competitive shooter from North Carolina shared that in the summer he shoots in the early morning, when temperatures never get all that high. But, he’s more concerned about his grip slipping because of the sweat on his palms than from any effect of the temperatures on his ammo. His experience taught him to purchase handguns with non-slip surfaces and grips. In any case, his targets are all under 100 yards away, so the only thing affecting his shots are a bad day at the range and his own sweat.

 

A gun store owner told me recently that hunters out in extreme temperatures are usually accompanied by big game guides who make sure the equipment is properly selected for the conditions.

 

Long distance shooters need to take these temperature variations into account. People using their handguns at under 100 yards? Not so much.

KN, p. 189 “Fifth Anniversary Thank You from the Kerrians”

 

Kerriansnotebook_FINAL copy

It’s with great pleasure that we thank you, the readers, for hanging out with us for five years.

 

We’ve taken some really amazing trips to American Civil War battlefields, endured fog and pouring rain on both American and international golf courses, been trapped in elevators, survived bomb scares, witnessed bloody crime scenes, and lived to tell the tales.

 

Some intriguing people have agreed to do interviews about their jobs and in the process, have opened the eyes of our readers far and wide about the rigors of law enforcement in its many forms.

 

Police Academies, Fire Fighter Academies, Emergency Medical Training Schools, Firearms Training sites, Criminal Investigation Facilities –  have all generously allowed us to take photos and chat with the instructors at length. Fascinating stuff.

 

We’ve met with Visiting Detectives – an assortment that included a psychic detective, a vegetarian detective, and a time-traveling detective from the 1800s. Sheila chimed in while they worked on puzzling cases with me. The Vegetarian Detective brought brownies. Yum.

 

Kerrian’s Notebook, Volume 1, which included stories from 2011 and 2012 no longer available on the website, was published in response to the readership that wanted the (over 50) stories from the first year collected into one ebook. Don’t have your copy yet? Click on the link and find it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HI6YBDG

 

You’ve made the journey fun. And then some.  🙂

During the years, we kept track of which posts were the most popular, which ones you kept visiting over and over again. For research? For another laugh? To prove a point? For some of you, all three. Here is the result.

 

Click on the links and take a look at your Top 10 Favorite Kerrian’s Notebook posts in reverse order thru 2016:

 

  1. Who are the Texas Rangers?” (p.144)

 

  1. Are all handcuffs yellow?” (p.68)

 

  1. What does a Texas Ranger do?” (p.145)

 

  1. How big is that jail cell?” (p.51)

 

  1. Kerrian’s Favorite Chocolate Cheesecake.” (p.45)

 

  1. 100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death.” (p.100)

 

  1. What does a firefighter wear?” (p.119)

 

  1. I Like Pie.” (p.67)

 

  1. How many bodies at the scene?” (p.87)

 

And the most popular post?


  1. How to become a Texas Ranger.” (p.146)

 

Thank you, one and all!  🙂
Next time you’re in town, give us a call. We’re always happy to chat about the latest trip or the trickiest case. If you’re lucky, you might even meet one of the Visiting Detectives. There’s always a pot of coffee on and a piece of pie just begging to be eaten.

 

*Fingerprint photo taken by Patti Phillips at SIRCHIE, in Youngsville, North Carolina.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

KN, p. 168 “How do you become a US Marshal?”

 

USMarshalbanner.jpg

In the last post, “What does a U.S. Marshal do?” I listed quite a few of the duties that occupy the days of U.S. Marshals working in the various sections of the U.S. Marshal Service.

 

Part 2 of the series deals with qualifications needed to become a member of the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States.

 

First and foremost, potential candidates must be U.S. citizens and must be between the ages of 21 and 36. There are exceptions to the upper limit, but they are addressed at the time of application.

 

Before attending academy training, candidates must:

 

  • Have a bachelor’s degree, plus a year of grad school, preferably in an area of criminal justice – with at least a B average in all coursework.
  • Pass a background check – assume that it will be thorough
  • Complete interviews and various screenings – assume they will be intense
  • Be in top physical shape – not just a gym rat
  • Have at least normal vision and hearing
  • Pass the Fitness Test – see below and decide whether you could qualify to be part of the next Academy class

 

Minimum Fitness Standards for Men (30-39) in order to pass:

 

Complete 27 pushups, followed by 36 sit-ups, immediately followed by a 1.5 mile run in less than 13 minutes.

The Superior level is pegged at 51 pushups, 50 sit-ups and that same 1.5 mile completed in less than 9 minutes.

 

Minimum Fitness Standards for Women (30-39) in order to pass:

 

Complete 14 pushups, followed by 27 sit-ups, with the 1.5 miles finished in less than 16 minutes.

Reaching the Superior level requires more than 22 pushups, more than 41 sit-ups and the 1.5 mile run to be completed in less than 12 minutes.

 

The other age charts don’t differ all that much. Let’s face it, if 2-3 pushups more or less would make the difference in your candidacy, you probably aren’t ready yet.

If you are at the minimums when passing the Fitness Test, keep in mind that as an overall candidate, the other parts of your resume will need to be much stronger than at the minimum.

 

Why is it necessary to be in such good shape? The U.S. Marshals in charge of transporting prisoners or apprehending fugitives will need to work in all kinds of extreme weather conditions. The USA has both Alaska and Florida within its borders, with snowstorms, hurricanes, freezing temps as well as sweltering heat to contend with. At times, Marshals may have to wear Kevlar vests in the heat or resist an assault or run for blocks or be in confined spaces with dangerous criminals…you get the idea.

USMarshalSeal

 

You’ve passed the initial screening and now it’s time for you to:

 

  • Pass the 21 ½ week basic training program at the United States Marshals Service Training Academy.

 

United States Marshals Service Basic Training Academy is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), in Glynco, GA. The training is tough and since it is experienced in the intense heat and humidity of the world that is Georgia (USA), potential candidates are warned that top physical condition means just that. To prepare for the intensity of the Academy training, potential candidates are warned to start hydrating weeks before setting one foot at the Center. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, just to stay alive in the brutal summers of the South – forget about all the intense 1 to 10 mile runs combined with workouts, climbing, obstacle courses, and sprints that are coming at unscheduled times during training.

 

Some of the subjects covered during training include:

  • Building entry and search
  • Computer training
  • Court security
  • Defensive tactics
  • Driver training
  • Firearms training
  • High profile trials
  • Officer survival
  • Physical conditioning
  • Prisoner search and restraint
  • Search and seizure
  • Surveillance

 

There are seven exams given during the 21+ weeks. Each test must be passed with a score of at least 70%. There are additional practical exams scored with a pass/fail.

 

The subjects covered during training are necessary knowledge that a U.S. Marshal must internalize in order to do his/her job well. Lives depend on doing that job well.

 

Post Academy

 After successfully completing the training program and getting out into the field, U.S. Marshals are required to attend annual training sessions to maintain proficiency in certain areas or to learn new forensic techniques available.

 

Every six months, re-qualification is required for primary and off-duty handguns, rifles, shotguns, and perhaps submachine or semi-automatic guns if needed.

 

Once a year, re-qualification is required for batons and stunguns, as well as other non-lethal devices.

 

After seven years, the Deputy U.S. Marshals attend an advanced basic training session.

 

Think the training and ongoing retraining is something you could handle? From all reports, the job is an interesting one most of the time. There are reports to file, stake-outs to sit through and occasional boring parts of the work, but although sometimes dangerous, the job of a US Marshal is  essential to keep our court and judicial system running smoothly.

USMarshalBadge

For more information, please visit www.usmarshals.gov

Photo credits:

Collage of badges edited from the US Marshal website
Middle and bottom badge photos – Wikipedia

 

 

Save

Scroll to Top