Common Ballistics Terms by Guns & Ammo

I love it when someone can take the time to break something down Barney-style. Stepping up to the plate to help confused shooters out is Guns and Ammo magazine which has published “Common Ballistic Terms You Should Know” complete with handy graphics (for the reading impaired) and supporting text (for those who like to read).

Long-range shooting is one of the biggest trends on today’s shooting scene, big enough that it’s driving purpose-designed new rifles and riflescope models. Whether your game is hunting, tactical, competitive or simply recreational, there’s a movement within it to stretch the distance at which you can consistently and precisely hit a target. And there should be — pulling off a tricky shot on a small target a half-mile away is challenging, gratifying and takes skill and practice.

The movement has adopted several common terms and generated new ones. If you’re new in the game, the jargon tossed back and forth at the range or during a match can be bewildering.

So, be cool, learn from the Guns and Ammo school so the next time you are not at the range, you don’t look like a fool (or tool). 


Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Ayup

    “At 1,000 yards 10 MOA measures 10.47 inches.”

    Misplaced a decimal there, von Benedikt.

    Guns & Ammo folks. It’s a bit like Playboy, if you’re reading the articles you’re probably doing it wrong.

    • Andrew Hobby

      I was about to proudly respond with “NUHH UHH, ITS CORRECT OBVS, OMGF” and then I realized that yes, TEN MOA would be 104.7″.

  • Glenn Bellamy

    As they say about sailing and other gear-intensive activities, the first step to becoming an “expert” is knowing what everything is called.

    • shootbrownelk

      No Glenn, the first step to becoming an “EXPERT” is going on the internet blogs and saying you’re an “Expert”. Perhaps including some bogus credentials.

  • Andrew Hobby


    Wait… that sounds a bit wrong.

    • Just say’n

      The 80’s called, they want Mr. T back.

  • MPWS

    Hmm, this is interesting; you say hitting within 1.047in off PoA at 100 yrds is 1 MoA “accuracy”.
    I see a bit of logical problem there. With 1 MoA error from PoA you achieved just 1MoA error, NOT accuracy. The actual accuracy in that case is 2 Minutes of spherical Angle.

    Logic: IF the term 1 MoA includes angular angle centered about projected point on target, then hitting within half of it is 1 MoA accuracy.
    This is not an attempt to “rewrite the rule”, but to see reality from different (from my PoV correct) direction.

    • All the Raindrops

      these sort of semi-issues are why the military uses the term “dispersion”

      • MPWS

        That sounds more like it :-)))
        But still, it doubles the angle.

      • RICH


  • john huscio

    Is he shooting over the English channel?

  • Tom Currie

    “In a bullet’s parabolic trajectory, drop occurs when a bullet begins
    falling toward the earth as a result of gravity and air friction.” This text, when coupled with the accompanying cartoon, implies that “drop” starts when the bullet reaches max ord – but actually drop does begin “when a bullet begins falling toward the earth” which is the instant it leaves the muzzle.

  • ghost

    Too much for me, gives headache. Go back to clubbing things to death.