Flight of Bullets

28. May 2019 |

A new method will reveal where bullets landed after hitting their targets. New knowledge about the Battle of Nyborg in the pipeline.

Over the years a great deal of ammunition from the skirmishes of the Battle of Nyborg have been found out on the battlefield. The ammunition consists of spherical lead bullets of various sizes. The small ones come from pistols, the medium-sized from carbines and the biggest from muskets!

Bullets from cavalrymen, dragoons and infantrymen

We can identify the units that took part in the Battle from their ammunition. The pistols belonged to the cavalrymen, the carbines were the dragoons’, and the muskets were used by the infantrymen. On old maps we can see roughly where they were positioned during the Battle – or at least when the Battle started.
“During the fighting, the units moved around the battlefield – particularly the cavalrymen. We can also see their movements in the material we find. BUT what we cannot see is where those who fired the shots were standing or riding. Because, exactly how far could our ancient ancestors shoot?” asks Jesper Olsen, project manager of the study.

Now is the time to answer some unanswered questions

So there are many still-unanswered questions. At what distance were the firearms of the past ‘dangerous’? What happened to the ammunition once it whizzed through its target? Did a soft lead bullet change in a particular way? And what happened to the scattering of round lead bullets, when soldiers fired into an infantry regiment?
“We asked many experts – in Denmark, England and Sweden. We received as many answers as the people we have talked to! In other words, this is something we haven’t yet got our heads around! That is what we want to challenge! And we look forward to reporting on the results when they are ready!” says Jesper Olsen.

New methods being deployed

Together with Peter Juel Thies (University of Southern Denmark), Jesper Boldsen (University of Southern Denmark) and a number of black-powder riflemen, a number of experiments are being conducted out on shooting ranges. First in Ringe, then at Oksbøl Shooting Range in cooperation with Danish Defence and Fynske Sortkrudtsskytter. The objective is to find the output effect of the weapons measured in metres per second and the overall range of the various weapons under different conditions.

The experiments are the first of their kind.

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