We started off this long range shooting series with an introduction to some important terminology. Now we’re ready to apply those terms. Let’s start with an introduction on a key external ballistics concept that directly relates to long range shooting: bullet trajectory.
From the moment it leaves the muzzle, a bullet starts to follow a descending parabolic trajectory. Which means that, as the bullet travels further, the rate at which it approaches the ground increases. This parabolic trajectory is caused by gravity and drag.
In fact, as soon as the bullet exits the barrel, it begins to fall toward the ground, attracted by gravity. The amount of drop caused by gravity is a function of bullet speed. Given a distance, the higher the bullet speed, the less is the time it is subjected to the effect of gravity and the less is its drop.
However, bullet speed is not constant; it starts to decrease as soon as the bullet exits the muzzle due to drag, the resistance that air offers to the bullet travel. As the speed decreases, the time the bullet is subjected to gravity increases, which, in turn, increases the amount of drop. This what gives the bullet its parabolic trajectory.