Doc Nickel posted this at the Tinker's Guild Forum years ago and I thought it was worth saving. This was posted in response to some guy saying 'Cockers shoot farther than Mags or some such nosense.

Physics and the Real World

by Doc Nickel

I was just reading both Curt and Manike's marvelous postings below:


And, while Manike may have gotten a little testy, he's precisely right. I've been a little testy at times, too, answering, for the umpteeth time, some kid's post saying "yeah, well I TRIED it and my ball went further!"... Part of why I sorta wandered away from WARPIG a while back.

But the basis of his post and Curt's is precisely on track- somebody FAT 'em... maybe we need a "rant" section in the FAT.

The Shocker can't toss the ball any further than the 'Cocker, or the 'Mag, or the Angel. Newton proved that hundreds of years ago, and no one since has managed to refute his underlying foundations of physics.

If you know the weight, the velocity, the air conditions and the shape, you can calculate where that ball will land with amazing accuracy.

In World War 2, the Germans built a massive gun, a cannon that could heave shells weighing many tons, dozens of miles. Before it had ever been fired, they had precise charts telling them how far each shell would go, taking into consideration the weight of the shell, the powder, the temperature, the humidity, the elevation of the gunbarrel, and taking into account the amount the barrel "sagged" due to gravity, and even compensating for both the turning of and the curvature of the Earth.

Before the weapon had fired a single shot, they could know where that first shot was going to land, within probably 500 yards radius. Which sounds like a lot, but consider that 1,000 yard circle was nearly ninety miles from the gun.

They even had numbered shells, to be fired in order, where each shell was fractions of an inch larger than the subesquent shell, to compensate for both the warming of the gunbarrel due to firing, but also to compensate for infinitesimal wear caused by the previous shot.

How did they know by how much the barrel would expand? How did they know by how much the bore would wear? How did they know how long the shell would be in the air, so they could compensate for the turning of the Earth? How did they know how fast the powder would burn? How fast the projectile would go? How did they know the trajectory beforehand, so they could know at what elevation to raise the barrel? How did they know by how far the barrel would droop under it's own weight?

We did the same thing: The firing "computers" on Iowa class battleships were merley large mechanical calculators- mechanical!

Those "computers"- few electrical components, but a huge array of swiss-watch-like gearing- could calculate the correct factors, in seconds, needed to fire a 1,600-pound shell, from a moving ship, and hit an area no larger than a football field over twenty-three miles away.

And they could do it in 1936.

Projectile weight A leaving the muzzle at B speed and at C angle in D atmospheric conditions will travel E distance.

The French knew it when they were building air-rifles that could kill an Elk at 250 yards in the late 1700s. Lewis and Clark knew it when they took an air rifle with them in their cross-country exploration in the early 1800s.

Why should your 'Cocker be something new and marvelous and somehow not subject to the laws of physics?