Seven members of the Warren County 4-H Shooting Sports program took on a new challenge on the weekend of September 10. They brought science and math out of the classroom and onto the shooting range.
The first evening session of the class was designed to have youth work on the basic safety skills and to acclimate them to the air pistols they would be using
during the class. Each youth was asked to think about which pellet would travel
the fastest and shoot the most accurately and why they believed that.
When the group returned to the range on Saturday, they all felt confident that
“gold” pellet would be the fastest and that the weight had the greatest impact
on speed. In other words, they developed a hypothesis to test using weight and
speed measurements to support or decline the theory that the students
developed. According to Weston Azaert, “Different pellets (shapes) are like anatomy, form follows function.” In other words the different pellet shapes
were designed for different purposes.
The “gold” pellets traveled the fastest, with a range of 194 to 400 feet per second
(fps) and an average of 340 fps. The “dual alloy” pellets that were used did not perform well in the air pistols used for this program and averaged around 250 (fps) and created misfires in every three pellets. The final pellet, traditional
lead, was both the slowest and the heaviest pellet used. Average speed was just over 200 fps and there were no misfires.
According to the evaluations of the program: 100%
of participants learned more about the role of science in shooting sports, 80%
learned more about developing a hypothesis and testing it, and 100% had never
had more fun doing math and science. One participant, Brent Azaert of
Warrensburg, mentioned he was, “surprised that the pellets traveled as fast as
they did.” He also compared the job possibilities to that of the automotive
industry, “Think of how many people there are designing and testing tire
performance.” This would be the shooting sports equivalent. Andrew Kissinger was very interested in the chemical makeup of the pellets. He
actually spent time online trying to get the actual chemical break down of each
pellet between the first session and final range event.
This activity would not have been possible without the volunteer hours committed by William Baldwin of Queensbury, the use of the Dunham’s Bay Fish & Game Club, and the donation of the chronograph by Shootingchrony.com.