UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
WEAPONS TRAINING BATTALION
COMBAT MARKSMANSHIP CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
MARINE CORPS COMBAT DEVELOPMENT COMMAND
QUANTICO, VIRGINIA 22134-5040
INSTRUCTOR PREPARATION GUIDE
LESSON TITLE: Ballistics
LESSON DESIGNATOR: CMC-32R
TOTAL LESSON TIME: Lecture 0.75
REFERENCES: MCRP 3-01A
SSB0101 Scout Sniper Instructor School,
Book One, Marksmanship
Weapons Manipulation Manual, Enhanced
"The Wound Profile: A Visual Method for
Quantifying Gunshot Wound
Components." Martin L. Fackler, M.D.,
and John A. Malinowski, B.S., JTrauma,
25(6): 522-529, 1985.
"The Wound Profile: Illustration of the
Missile-tissue Interaction." Martin L.
Fackler, M.D., Ronald F. Bellamy, M.D.,
and John A. Malinowski, B.S., JTrauma,
28(1) Suppl: S21-S29, 1988.
LOCATION OF TEST: N/A
PERSONNEL REQUIRED: Primary instructor and 1 A/I for the
FACILITIES: Indoor/outdoor classroom.
REVIEW COURSE MATERIALS: Review the course/training
schedule, administrative requirements, student background
information, lesson plans, student materials, media and
ADD PERSONALIZATION: Personalize the lesson plan by adding
subject matter detail, relating personal experiences,
providing examples, questions, and/or interactive
a. Turn charts
EXERCISE SETUP AND PLANNING:
a. The primary instructor will ensure the media is set
up in the appropriate classroom fifteen minutes prior to
beginning the lecture. Media consists of turn chart with
stand or PowerPoint and projector.
b. All students will be seated with their student
handouts and note taking material per the time listed on
the training schedule. Primary and co-primary instructors
will begin and conclude instruction per the time listed on
the training schedule.
c. Review instructor guide/coordinating instructions,
and coordinate with assistant instructors/demonstrators
prior to the start of class.
SAFETY: Reference Instructor Guide/RSO brief.
a. Review ORA in Master Lesson File.
b. Reassess the environment for changes that affect
the original ORA.
APPROVED BY DATE
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
WEAPONS TRAINING BATTALION
COMBAT MARKSMANSHIP CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
MARINE CORPS COMBAT DEVELOPMENT COMMAND
QUANTICO, VIRGINIA 22134-5040
COMBAT MARKSMANSHIP COURSE
APPROVED BY DATE
INTRODUCTION (3 MIN)
ON SLIDE #1
1. GAIN ATTENTION. In October of 1994 the Culver City Ca.
Police Department procured a warrant to arrest a suspect,
Robert C. Jones. During the arrest, Police Officer Bryan
Fitzpatrick was forced to engage the suspect with his
handgun. The Officer fired a total of five rounds of “Black
Talon” ammunition. The suspect was subsequently arrested
“alive”. Of the five rounds fired, one struck the head and
four struck the torso. During the suspect’s hospital stay
he did in fact die, however, medical doctors determined
that the single headshot was survivable, but the four torso
shots were not. That is to say that the suspect should
never have been arrested alive. The suspect totally
contradicted medical science. Why then did Mr. Jones not
die after receiving four fatal gunshot wounds in close
succession? Perhaps because Mr. Jones had the overriding
“will” to live? As students of combat shooting, we need to
have a basic understanding of ballistics and how they can
work for or against us. The definition of ballistics is the
study of projectiles in motion. With the advent of modern
technology, the study of the interaction between firearms
and ammunition is an all-encompassing and often confusing
field of science. Of the three major fields of study
regarding ballistics - internal, external, and terminal, we
will focus on terminal ballistics.
ON SLIDE #2
2. OVERVIEW. Good morning/afternoon class, my name is
. This lesson covers the principles of ballistics.
The purpose of this period of instruction is that upon
completion, the shooter will understand what effects his
rounds will have on a human target and the process required
to get them there.
3. METHOD/MEDIA. This class will be taught in a classroom
setting using lecture method with turn charts or
Explain to the students the procedure for
completing the Instructional Rating Forms
4. EVALUATION. This class is a lesson-purpose class.
There will be no formal evaluation on the material in this
5. SAFETY/CEASE TRAINING (CT) BRIEF. N/A
TRANSITION: Are there any questions on the purpose of this
period of instruction, or how I will present it? If not,
let us begin by covering ballistics.
ON SLIDE #3
BODY (40 min)
ON SLIDE #4
1. BALLISTICS OVERVIEW. (10 Min)
This is the study of what a projectile is doing during its
travel. It is broken down into three types: Internal,
External, and Terminal.
a. Internal Ballistics. This is the study of what a
projectile is doing while it is inside the weapon.
b. External Ballistics. This is the study of what a
projectile is doing in flight.
c. Terminal Ballistics. This is the study of the
projectile once it strikes its target and the effect on the
ON SLIDE #5
2. INTERNAL BALLISTICS.
a. As the powder burns, chamber pressure builds. The
projectile is pushed forward through the throat and engages
ON SLIDE #6
b. The powder in the cartridge continues to burn,
adding pressure and increasing the velocity of the
ON SLIDE #7
c. As the round travels down the barrel, it is being
rotated by the rifling cut into the barrel. This rotation
will stabilize the round once it exits the barrel. The
stability of the round is determined by the twist rate, and
is designed to give the optimal amount of stability to a
given projectile. Longer, heavier rounds require more spin
than lighter, shorter rounds for optimal performance. If
the twist rate is wrong, it will adversely affect the
round. If the round is over-stabilized, the projectile will
perform poorly in tissue, as it will punch straight through
with minimal disturbance of tissue. If the projectile is
not stabilized enough, it will not travel accurately and
will be heavily effected by atmospheric conditions and
ON SLIDE #8
3. EXTERNAL BALLISTICS.
a. This begins when the projectile exits the bore. As
soon as the projectile exits the bore, velocity begins to
drop, as there is no longer any force to speed up or
maintain the speed of the round. Air drag immediately
begins to effect the round, slowing it down. As the
projectile ends its contact with the lands and grooves of
the barrel, the gas-tight seal that was behind the
projectile is broken. The expanding gas behind the bullet
exits along with the bullet, and is expelled around the
bullet and bore. The bullet will not be stable when it
exits the bore due to lack of constriction provided by the
barrel and by the exiting gasses. The bullet will wobble in
flight (precession) until gyroscopic action stabilizes it.
This initial wobble is known as the Magnus Moment. It is
the brief period in a bullets flight when it is not
stabilized. Due to gyroscopic stabilization the bullet may
not travel directly aligned with the path of flight.
Instead, the bullet will rotate around its center of
gravity. The Magnus Effect will stabilize the bullet and
cause it to point toward (about one degree off) the target.
The rifling twist rate becomes a factor now that the bullet
is in flight. The bullet must be stabilized to have uniform
drag. If the bullet is wobbling in flight, each individual
round will have a different path and accuracy will
decrease. The optimal amount of twist for a 62-grain bullet
(SS109 in M855) is one rotation in five to six inches (1/6,
1/5). The optimal amount of spin for the M856 tracer is 1/8
to 1/9. The best compromise for both trajectories to be
about the same was to go with a 1/7 twist for the service
rifle. Although not optimal, it is acceptable.
ON SLIDE #9
b. Precession is a circular motion of the bullet’s
center of gravity aligning with the projectile’s center of
mass as the bullet is rotated and stabilized. Yaw is a back
and forth wobbling of the round, and will never completely
stabilize. Both affects are present in any bullet’s flight,
their degree and length are what makes a certain round more
or less accurate than other rounds. Gyroscopic
stabilization is intended to limit these motions by
matching bullets to a given twist rate. These deviations
will generally be no greater than 1 degree.
ON SLIDE #10
c. The round must travel up to meet the sight plane
(Initial Point) then travels forward and up until it
reaches the height of its travel (Maximum Ordinate), which
will be at roughly 2/3 of its target distance. At that
point, the round begins its descent onto the target. The
projectile will be given slight lift from the turbulence
that forms on the top of the round as it drops toward the
target. This gives the round a slightly longer time of
flight than would be expected.
D. this video shows the the round in its flight from
muzzle to 300 yards. It shows Magnus moment precession and
ON SLIDE #11
ON SLIDE #12
d. By zeroing the service rifle/carbine at 300 yards
with the M855, all projectiles exiting the barrel will have
to travel upward to meet the line of sight at 36 yards, and
back down to cross the line of sight again at 300 yards.
The effects of zeros at combat range become apparent,
especially when comparing a 300 yard zero with a 200 yard
zero and a 500 yard zero. With a 300 yard zero, the vital
area of a human-being (10 inch circle in the upper thoracic
cavity) can be engaged from 0-350 yards, as the bullet will
rise and drop no more than 5 inches, but will be 4.6 inches
high from 165-180 yards. With a 200 yard zero the range is
reduced to 280 yards, but rises no more than 1.2 inches
over line of sight, making it very easy to achieve point of
aim/point of impact at 25-225 meters. With a 500 yard zero,
the point of aim/point of impact will be limited to 0-55
yards, and the round will still be 19.2 inches high at 300
ON SLIDE #13
e. Long range ballistics show how the round must drop
heavily into the target. The distance at which the round
will be in the lethal area are very small, showing how a
small error in distance estimation will drastically effect
the placement of the shot, even if the shooter knows the
drop at long range. A shot miscalculated by 25 yards short
at 500 yards (475 yards) will effect the placement of the
round as follows: the 200 yard zero that is already 43
inches low, and will be 6.6 inches higher than expected.
The 300 yard zero will be 32 inches low at 500 yards and
6.1 inches higher if miscalculated. The 500 yard zero will
be 4.5 inches higher than expected if miscalculated.
ON SLIDE #14
f. All shots at less than 36 yards will be lower than
the sight picture. This is especially important at close
range due to the height of the sights over the bore. To
place a round exactly, the shooter must aim higher than the
intended impact point. At 10 yards the 300 and 200 yard
zeros will be 2 inches low, and the 500 yard zero will be
1.2 inches low. At 20 yards the 200 yard zero will be 1.6
inches low, the 300 yard zero will be 1.1 inches low, and
the 500 yard zero will be point of aim/point of impact. At
50 yards, the 200 yard zero will be ¼ inch low, the 300
yard zero will be 1 inch high, and the 500 yard zero will
be 4 inches high. This illustrates that the 0-2 sight,
which automatically adjusts to a 200 yard zero when flipped
up when the peep sight is zeroed for 300 yards, is superior
for a close-range engagement, not only for rapid target
acquisition, but also in flat trajectory. This equates to a
lessened point of impact shift at close range.
ON SLIDE #15
e. Minute of Angle is a commonly used term to
1). It may explain the accuracy of a weapon,
performance of ammunition, ability of a shooter, or a
combination of these aspects.
2). Minute of Angle (MOA) depends on size and
range. It is an expression of an angle, so size will
increase as range increases. A minute of angle is 1/60th of
a circle (360 degrees) or 6 degrees of arc. From any center
point outward, this angle translates to 1.0476 inches wide
at 100 yards and is stated as 1 inch at 100 yards. This is
called 1 MOA.
3). Minute of angle is determined not only by
the size of the group but also the range at which the group
was fired. 2 inches that 200 yards is 1 MOA. 2 inches at
100 yards is 2 MOA. 1 inch at 200 yards is ½ or .5 MOA.
ON SLIDE #16
4). If a weapon holds a certain size group at
one range the group will spread or shrink proportionally
according to distance. Simply divide the group size by
hundreds of yards to determine the minute of angle, or
multiply the minute of angle by hundreds of yards to
determine group size.
ON SLIDE #17
ON SLIDE #18
4. TERMINAL BALLISTICS.
a. Gyroscopic stabilization causes the round to resist
changes in orientation. As the bullet begins its
penetration into an animate target, it will produce a
puncture wound in the skin and will not be deformed or
ON SLIDE #19
b. The puncture wound will be smaller than the
diameter of the bullet that produced it because the skin
will stretch before the bullet punctures the skin.
ON SLIDE #20
c. As the round continues into flesh its slight yaw
will cause friction on the projectile. This friction will
cause the round to tumble, with the point of the bullet
moving it the direction of yaw and the base moving in the
opposite dirction. The impact of the round on the wet
tissue of the body will impart energy and velocity to the
surrounding tissue. This creates a cavity within the flesh,
but does not cause damage other than the thin tearing wound
caused by the round itself.
ON SLIDE #21
d. The temporary cavity is easily visualized by
thinking of a large rock dropped into a puddle. The water
will rapidly move away from the rock, creating a large
“hole” in the water around the rock that quickly closes.
This is called the Temporary Cavity, and it will close
itself in a matter of milliseconds.
ON SLIDE #22
e. Depending on the round and its velocity the round
may either stay in essentially one piece or break apart
into several smaller pieces. If the round breaks apart
(Fragmentation) it will cause several small wound tracks,
as the individual pieces of the round will each follow
different paths. The round may stay in one piece though,
causing damage only to the tissue the projectile directly
contacts. The tissue will suffer tearing and crushing
wounds to the tissue contacted by either the fragments or
the round itself during its passage through flesh. This
destruction is the Permanent Wound Cavity.
ON SLIDE #23
f. When the temporary cavity is created within the
target the shock is transmitted through the body by the
body fluids. Although the human body is composed of a high
percent of water, the human body is only water. There is a
great deal of soft tissue, air and bone contained in the
body, and as such will not instantly transfer energy. What
will be created is much like a ripple in water. Think of
the large rock dropped into the puddle again. The ripples
the radiate outward from the splash represent the shock
effect of a bullet. The energy will radiate through the
body, but will cause little damage since the ripple only
lasts a few milliseconds.
e. The temporary cavity closes rapidly, causing no
lasting damage unless it occurs in inelastic (non-
stretching) tissue such as the liver or kidneys, or the
skin during the round’s exit from the body. These organs or
skin will be ripped apart by the temporary cavity pressure
wave since they do not stretch as well as the other organs
f. The tissue that was crushed and torn by the
projectile will remain open as the Permanent Cavity.
ON SLIDE #24
g. On this slide you can see the various wound
components as illustrated by rounds fired into ballistic
gelatin. Ballistic gelatin is used to determine a round’s
performance in flesh. It does not account for bones, thick
muscle, air in the lungs, etc. What it shows is an educated
guess as to what will happen in a human body. Penetration
in a human body will be about 4/5 of the ballistic gelatin.
The closer the round comes to stopping, the less energy
has been available to maintain the temporary cavity. You
can also see a depiction of the sonic pressure wave passing
through the tissue untouched by the projectile itself.
ON SLIDE #25
h. The M855 traveling at high speed produces not only
an impressive temporary cavity, but also a large permanent
cavity due to the round’s fragmentation. In this video you
can see that yaw has an effect on the rounds terminal
performance. In the first video the round impacts the
gelatin straight on with no yaw. Because there was no yaw
the round failed to fragment until it was 7 inches into the
gelatin, just before it exits a torso. In the second video
the round has yaw and it begins to fragment 2 inches into
the gelatin causing greater permanent and temporary wound
cavities. There is no way of determining how much yaw a
round will have on impact. This is the reason for engaging
with pairs so at least one round will perform properly.
ON SLIDE #26
I. in this slide the chart shows the same weapon with
the same ammunition performing differently at different
yards. There is no way of determining how much yaw a round
will have at a specific range.
ON SLIDE #27
j. The 5.56mm ball at high speed energetically
fragments. As the velocity decreases, so too does the
potential for fragmentation. The round is most effective at
no less than 2500 feet per second, which occurs at 200
yards from a 20 inch barrel with a muzzle velocity of 3,100
feet per second. By 300 yards (2,225 fps) this
fragmentation is completely lost. It is most effective from
3100 fps to 2640 fps (0-150 yards). At higher than 3,100
fps, the round fragments before penetrating sufficiently to
destroy the vital organs.
ON SLIDE #28
k. The M882 9mm ball round has a less than illustrious
reputation as a man-stopper. This can be seen by the small
permanent cavity, despite the sizeable temporary cavity.
Most of the round’s energy is wasted in penetration instead
of fragmentation or expansion.
ON SLIDE #29
L. this chart shows the advantage of engaging with
pairs. It shows all types of 5.56 fired with single shots
and with pairs. All ammunition is equal in lethality when
engaging with pairs, regardless of weight. Pairs are
ON SLIDE #30
TRANSITION: Now that we have discussed what happens when a
round enters a body and how it got there, let’s talk about
how to stop a threat.
ON SLIDE #31
5. INCAPACITATION THEORIES. (10 Min)
There are four ways to eliminate a threat:
a. Central Nervous System Destruction. By destroying
the CNS, the threat is immediately removed. Placing a round
in the “T-Box” of the head will cause the threat to
immediately lose life and cease all movement. When the
medulla oblongata is destroyed the body will instantly drop
with no muscle flinch. If the spine is destroyed there will
be immediate loss of function in the limbs below the break.
b. Hydraulic Decompression. When the body loses enough
blood that oxygen cannot be delivered to the brain thereby
causing it to die, it is called a “bleed out” or hydraulic
decompression. The usual cause for a bleed out is
destruction of the heart or a major vascular structure such
as the Brachial Artery, Carotid Artery, Renal Artery,
Femoral Artery, or the Aorta. A center-mass shot, even
directly through the heart will not instantly incapacitate
a threat. The target will still be able to fight
effectively for 10-15 seconds, which is time enough for a
threat to close on your position and kill you. Since it
takes time to incapacitate the threat, this is an
ineffective technique in a close range fight. Extremity
hits may take hours to sufficiently bleed out. Though this
technique will cause the threat to die eventually, it
cannot be relied upon by itself to immediately stop a
ON SLIDE #32
d. Massive Pain and Shock. This technique delivers
multiple shots to the body in rapid succession. The shooter
is essentially driving the target into submission. This
technique is favored for a low-powered weapon such as the
9mm because it does not produce a large enough permanent
cavity to induce Hydraulic Shock. Shot placement is not
overly critical as long as the shots continue until the
target ceases all aggressive action. Multiple wounds
overwhelm the target’s will to fight, and are more
psychologically than physiologically destructive. Though
the wounds sustained may cause the threat to die, it will
most likely happen hours after the incident unless a vital
structure is destroyed.
TRANSITION: Now that you understand what critical wound
components are needed to cause incapacitation, let us
discuss the various targets of the body, which may be
selected to incapacitate a threat.
ON SLIDE #33
6. VITAL AREAS. (10 MIN)
a. The Brain. This is the only one-shot technique that
will lead to immediate incapacitation of a threat. The
brain is broken down into three main parts: cerebrum,
cerebellum and medulla oblongata. The cerebrum is
responsible for higher functions such as intellect and
awareness of self. It is the largest part and surrounds the
rest of the brain structure. The cerebellum is the second
largest part and is responsible for voluntary movements.
The most critical but smallest part is the medulla
oblongata. It connects to the spinal cord and controls
involuntary functions. If you want to immediately
incapacitate a target, hit the medulla oblongata.
ON SLIDE #34
ON SLIDE #35
b. Immediate Incapacitation Aiming Points for the
Head. When shooting a person in the head with the intent to
immediately cease their actions, we must destroy the
medulla oblongata. Since we cannot see it inside the head,
we can select aiming points outside that correspond to its
location inside. A frontal shot should be placed within the
“T-Box” which is located from the brow to the bottom of the
nose and from eye to eye. This is a direct path to the
medulla oblongata and is also the weakest part of the head.
A T-Box shot easily penetrates the head with minimal
deflection or energy loss. A side shot should go through
either the ear or temple. Be aware that a shot to the
temple is risky: it may lead to nothing more than a
lobotomy or extraction of the eyes due to the bone
structure of the skull. For a high angle shot, aim for the
hairline so that the round travels through the medulla
oblongata to the base of the skull.
ON SLIDE #36
c. Fatal Aiming Points for the Body. Shots to these
areas of the body will likely cause death, but are
unreliable for immediate incapacitation.
1) The base of the throat is packed with vascular
structures and nerves, and is backed by the spine. A shot
to this area has a high probability of causing death unless
immediate medical attention is given.
2) The upper portion of the heart and the
structures above the heart are highly vulnerable to
piercing. A shot to this area will cause rapid
decompression and death.
3) The lower portion of the heart is tougher than
the upper part, and will bleed slower, but with the same
4) The kidneys are fragile, but both must be
destroyed to cause death in a timely manner. A penetrating
strike to a kidney will cause involuntary clenching. This
is not a preferred target, and intentional targeting should
be reserved as a last resort only.
5) The liver is not elastic and the temporary
wound channel will destroy this organ. The liver is not a
preferred target as it will not cause immediate
ON SLIDE #37
TRANSITION: Are their any questions regarding applied wound
ballistics? If there are no more questions then I have one
Question: What are the two types of wound cavities?
ANSWER: Permanent and temporary.
Question: How can we induce Hydraulic Shock on a target>
ANSWER: At least two shots to the upper thoracic cavity in
less than 1 second.
ON SLIDE #38
Summary (2 MIN)
During this class we have covered internal ballistics,
external ballistics, terminal ballistics, incapacitation
theories, and vital areas. Those students with IRFs please
respond to the questions or make comments as appropriate.
This concludes this period of instruction.
ON SLIDE #39
Provide the students with instructions
regarding what to do for beginning the