Busted: Damp squib
This weekly column debunks the various myths propagated by Indian cinema — Tamil films in particular
Myth: A bullet hitting its mark under water
Propagated in: Aadhavan, Vivegam
A usual occurrence in our films, when the hero is being chased by enemies on a mountain, is for him to leap into water. This is usually followed by the smug villains calmly releasing the safety catch of their guns and firing at the hero. At least one bullet is usually shown to connect.
Colonel Pradeep, an expert in firearms, finds it laughable. "It is not possible for it to happen as shown in films, especially when concerning pistols," he says. "When it comes to rifles, the bullet shot usually gets a revolution. This consequently brings in more stability and accuracy to the point that it bores into the water like a screwdriver. When it comes to pistols though, the bullet travels straight and as such, the velocity directly reduces upon impact on water."
He continues, "Another reason is that air, as we know, is a lighter medium than water. Water itself is different in its salinity based on whether we are talking about a swimming pool or a river or sea. The bullet's speed reduces at different rates in each of these. And then, finally, the actual speed of the bullet itself starkly differs when it is shot from a self-loading rifle or an automatic gun. The latter, favourites of filmmakers, have a lower range and can only be used for close quarter combat. So, yes, on the whole, it is quite impossible for a bullet fired from a pistol to hit its mark under water."