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Forensic Engineering Analysis Methods Employed for the Purpose of Determining the Location of a Long-Range Shooter Based on Terminal Bullet Trajectory

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael A. Knox

Knox & Associates, LLC, Jacksonville, FL

Paper No. IMECE2013-62517, pp. V015T12A001; 11 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 15: Safety, Reliability and Risk; Virtual Podium (Posters)
  • San Diego, California, USA, November 15–21, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5644-4
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


The reconstruction of shooting incidents based on the terminal bullet trajectory is commonly carried out over short distances using a linear trajectory simplification model. However, when shooting incidents, such as sniper attacks, take place over longer distances, linear simplification models destabilize and result in large errors in determining the location of the shooter. In such cases, it becomes necessary to account for a large number of variables affecting the flight path of the bullet.

While linear simplification models for bullet trajectories do not require robust engineering analysis methods, reverse modeling of long-range bullet trajectories can only be carried out using numerical methods for solving the differential equations of projectile motion.

This paper will explore methods for employing computational engineering methods to model the trajectories of bullets with a focus on reverse modeling from the trajectory terminus. In this way, the forensic engineer can use basic measurements of the terminal angle of the bullet trajectory combined with appropriate knowledge of the firearm and ammunition to model the bullet’s path back to a probable location of the shooter.

This paper will focus on methods that the forensic engineer can employ when solving problems involving determination of the location of a shooter based on limited physical evidence at the scene. Computational analysis tools will be presented.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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