Projectile Motion

Media and Videos

Worksheet – Projectile Motion

Worksheet Solutions – Projectile Motion

Open Source Physics – Newton and Galileo Java Applet

OpenStax – Projectile Motion

Khan Academy – Projectile Motion

Taylor Tries – Perspective – Juggling From Above (5:37)

Wikipedia – X and Y motion are independent

PhET – Projectile Motion


The term “point blank“, referring to a range at which the weapon should be shot perfectly horizontally, may come from a French artillery phrase de point en blanc.

If a bullet is dropped at the same time another bullet is shot horizontally from the same height, they will hit the ground at the same time.

Bullet Fired vs Bullet Dropped – Mythbusters for the Impatient  (2:57)


When shooting from the ground, an angle of exactly 45 degrees will maximize the range of the projectile.

The range of a projectile at complementary angles is identical.

Reddit – Projectile Motion at Complementary Angles (1:06)

Projectile Motion in the Military

The history of projectile motion has been intimately tied to military uses. World War 1 was the first major war fought with machine guns and effective explosive artillery. The artillery was a much larger killer of soldiers than the machine guns.

In WW1, field artillery would be pulled into place by horses, and millions of 18-pound shells were fired by each side.

The artillery barrages were intense, sometimes lasting for days, and left the countryside a desolate ruin. For example, the Battle of Passchendaele involved creeping barrage that lasted 6 hour and 46 minutes. Thousands of shells would be launched.

The historian Bret Devereux has a very interesting discussion of WW1 trench warfare, in the context of Wonder Woman.

Modern field artillery can be fired at multiple angles, so that all the rounds impact at the same moment.

Crusader MRSI (0:48)



Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact on Exercise Chau Pha (1:11)


Modern artillery is no longer pulled by horses, but is often self-propelled. It looks like a tank, but has significantly weaker armour, and no direct-fire weapons.

Artillery has largely been superceded by rockets, which continue to propel themselves after being fired, and can be guided using GPS.

UK M270 MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) Shoot and Scoot Mission (2:52)

During the current Ukraine war, 155mm artillery has been a critically important resource. The Ukrainian army has complained that they do not have enough artillery shells to adequately defend their territory against the Russian invasion.
Russian military doctrine depends heavily on using artillery to destroy buildings in the area they are attacking.
Mariupol, Ukraine, has been the target of 2 years of Russian attack.
Ukraine is now facing the kind of destruction that the Russian army has previously used on Grozny, Chechnya, and Aleppo, Syria.

Notes, Questions, and Labs

Worksheet – Projectile Motion

Worksheet Solutions – Projectile Motion 1

Worksheet Solutions – Projectile Motion 2