LAST REVISED AUGUST 16th, 1999
An article by JLove written
All rights reserved. Copyright Paintcheck.com 1999
Paintcheck receives TONS of mail every day from visitors to the site. Many of these messages ask the questions "what is the best barrel for gun XYZ" or "which gun has more range, gun A or gun B?".
This article is designed to answer those questions honestly.
If this subject matter interests you, please read the ENTIRE article and follow-ups before you send me e-mail. The article touches on physics, but is not meant to be a college course in Dynamics.
Note about ball spin
We all know that backspin will affect a paintballs trajectory, but spin is outside the scope of this article because most paintball guns do not have bent barrels, and I feel that bolt design will do very little to produce spin. Spinning paintballs can also have adverse affects on accuracy, due to the irregular shape, size and weight of paintballs. Time will tell if manufacturers can produce a backspin barrel that will still be accurate. We will leave ball spin for another article. So other than ball spin, what other factors are there?
What affects the range of a paintball?
Newton’s First Law states a couple very important things
1. An object at rest will remain at rest unless some unbalanced force causes it to do otherwise.here is this funny little thing in physics class that you might remember from high school called Newton’s First Law. Newton’s First Law is also called the law of INERTIA. Inertia is basically the force that it takes to move an object, and momentum is the force that the object carries with it as it is moving. You could also think of momentum as the force required to slow an object down as it travels. You will see how this applies to the range of a paintball in a second. I am not a physics major but I am trying to make a simple point.
2. An object in motion will continue in motion in a straight line with constant VELOCITY unless some unbalanced force causes it to do otherwise.If there were no wind resistance or gravity (as in outer space), an object would continue on a straight path with virtually unchanging velocity.
Newton’s Second Law says: F=MA or (force equals mass times acceleration)
So INERTIA is equal to MASS x VELOCITY.
Now lets apply these laws to paintball. If you take a golf ball and a ping pong ball that are the exact same size, and you throw them one at a time as hard as you could, which would go further?
Obviously the golf ball would go further. Since it has more MASS than the ping pong ball, it takes more FORCE (due to its higher inertia) to throw it. This means it has more MOMENTUM than the ping pong ball. If two objects are going the same VELOCITY (300 fps), but one is heavier than the other, which one will go further? The one with more momentum. The ping pong ball and the golf ball may leave your hand at the same VELOCITY, but the ping pong ball will be decelerated by the air much more quickly than the golf ball. The golf ball also take a lot more FORCE to go the same velocity as the ping pong ball when it leaves your hand. To sum it up, there are only two things that will determine how much inertia the paintball has when it leaves the barrel.
Trajectory (arc of the ball's flight)
Some people argue: "my gun has a flatter trajectory than gun A". This is another one of the great misunderstanding among paintball players. There is no such thing as one gun having a different trajectory over another. The proof to my argument rests again with Newton's Laws of physics. This application of physics is called "projectile motion". Basically, the factors that control trajectory are gravity, mass, velocity, and angle of the projectile as it leaves the gun. A projectile shot at 45 degrees will travel the greatest distance possible. An angle greater than 45 degrees will cause the ball to go
higher, but it will hit the ground closer to its starting point. A projectile shot at less than 45 degrees will hit the ground faster due to acceleration of gravity, causing it to not travel as far. Gravity is a constant, and the acceleration due to gravity (32.2 ft/s/s) is the same for all projectiles.
A ball of heavier mass will go farther, remember? So weight of the ball once again plays a part in the flight of the ball, controlling how high and how far the ball will go.