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Old 06-24-2009, 12:55 AM
Caradhras Caradhras is offline
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Default Gunfire audible range

Ok - I realise this is like 'how long is a piece of string' but maybe I can narrow the parameters somewhat.

If a few short bursts of M-16 fire occured in a relatively quiet rural area - I was wondering how far the sound would travel eg neighbouring farms/towns.

Obviously applying modifiers for other aural activities - but as a general rule (because I have no idea at all!) with no real interference, how far would gunfire (using M-16 as a base) carry to be easy to hear.....
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Old 06-24-2009, 12:57 AM
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Wow, good question. I'm not sure either but wind speed and direction would make a difference as would precipitation and intervening cover and or structures.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:05 AM
Caradhras Caradhras is offline
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Yea Targan - it is a bit of a crazy question I know - I just need a baseline to start throwing such modifiers in as I have never fired or heard automatic fire so have no clue..

My players are landing on a small island only a few km across (?15km by 4km) and there are a few separate enclaves of bad guys - once it kicks off somewhere, there will be bad guys within a few km (maybe as few as 1km or as far as 10km). I want to apply at least a basic amount ofd realism rather than a total wild guess. And obviously it will be useful for future gaming.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:13 AM
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I reckon that under calm conditions on open ground you can hear small arms fire for at least 2km. I further reckon that unless it is under a kilometre away it would be difficult to estimate the distance or the calibre of weapon.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:28 AM
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Cheerrs Targan - at least I got a starting point there.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:35 AM
leonpoi leonpoi is offline
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I know that Merc2000 lists the following:
Sounds are categorised as:
clear - the distance at which the sound can be heard clearly. At this range, the direction from which the sound originated can be discerned, and I guess it can be identified as a gunshot.
max - is the maximum distance at which the sound can be heard—direction can be determined only within a 90° arc (left, right, forward or rear quadrants).

Silenced weapon, clear 10m, max 20m (same range as talking)
Suppressed weapon, clear 40m, max 80m (same range as shouting)
Small arms, clear 500m, max 1000m
heavy weapons, clear 1000m, max 2000m
explosions, 1500m, max 3000m

Having grown up on a farm and having heard neighbours shooting shotguns/rifles I'd say that the small arms ranges are about right, though you get a good echo of hills and mountains stretching max out to about 2km at a guess.

This is by no way definitive, but I hope it helps a bit.

[edit] just read Targan's post which he must have done while I was writing and I thought I'd add something: until I knew that the neighbours were using guns I didn't know what the sound was, though a solider would be better trained than I.....
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:47 AM
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Sound travels well across water as well - I can remember being a couple of k across bay from an army range and being startled by how near the shooting sounded.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:50 AM
leonpoi leonpoi is offline
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So I think the answer may be as long as a piece of string, after all.
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Old 06-24-2009, 02:57 AM
Caradhras Caradhras is offline
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Nice one Leonpoi - it gives a benchmark where I can adjust listen rolls (recon skill) difficulties at distances where it isnt obvious, and adjust for terrain (heavy jungle/forest limiting alot, open water as Targan says probably amplify range).
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Old 06-24-2009, 03:27 AM
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Gunfire and explosions are something we're not entirely unfamiliar with here in Belfast, but the audible range really is variable. When they bombed the forensic labs here (2000 lb van bomb) I was about 5 miles away and it rattled our windows and was loud enough that we thought they'd hit RUC headquarters, about half a mile away. On the other hand when a house 10 doors down the street from me was hit with a 5lb nail bomb I slept through it
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:23 AM
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Yes, it really is as long as a peice of string.

As has been pointed out, wind, rain, terrain, background noise and about a billion other factors are in play. However, the larger the calibre of the weapon, the greater the volume (usually).

For example, a 7.62mm x 51 gunshot can be heard very well up to a couple of miles in average conditions (ie countryside with normal sounds) while a 5.56mm might be just half that.

The actual sound of the projectile ripping through the air on the other hand is something else (remember, most military rounds are supersonic and have a supersonic "boom"). When a shot is fired at, or at a target nearby, it is relatively easy to hear, and with minimal training estimate to a reasonable accuracy the range, and even general location of the shooter (in a similar way that distance to lightning can be estimated).

For your example of a 15 x 4km island, I'd say most of the enemy forces can either hear, or will soon know about the gunfire (I presume there's locals living on the island too?). Single shots might be ignored (provided they're the only one fired within half an hour or so and could be passed off as a car backfiring for example), but bursts are DEFINATELY going to get noticed.

The best chance of the PCs remaining unnoticed for some time is to a) avoid combat (or better yet contact of any type), or failing that, use subsonic rounds from preferably silenced weapons (or just knives, axes, fists, harsh language, etc). They insist on assault rifles and up and they're going to be heard.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:21 AM
Graebarde Graebarde is offline
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There are a number of variables that must be taken into account for sure. One not mentioned is temperature. While it's not gunfire, I do recall overhearing a conversation that took place a mile away. The folks were talking plainly. It startled me to hear them talking as I had just come out of the house. Conditions: Calm, night, and -40F. The only time it happened, but it did. Spooky too.

And as has been stated, gunfire, at least the muzzel blasts, can be heard at some distance. I think the chart is a good starting point, and for game use quite good. As the HoG, you can always add or subtract from the ranges. I have heard gunfire at ranges over two miles from high-power rifles.
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:26 PM
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Also remember that as you watch TV, Movies, YouTube, etc -- you are almost never hearing what gunshots really sound like. The standard report for a .357 Magnum that the industry uses was done with half a stick of dynamite. Gunshots are surprisingly "quiet" (ie, not as loud as you expect, not necessarily quiet) when you hear them close up -- yet they echo over long distances.

And then there is the opposite grievance of mine -- silencers in movies and TV. They are NOT as quiet as portrayed on movies and TV -- the typical silenced round sounds like a .22 Long Rifle round being fired, better ones sound like a cap gun, and I once was standing beside someone firing an MP-5SD -- it sounded like a cork being popped from a bottle of champagne. None of that high-pitched thweep-thweep-thweep -- no silenced firearm in the world sounds like that. And don't forget that silenced semiautomatic or automatic weapons have bolt clatter -- you will hear the mechanism of the weapon working. Silencers do hide most of the muzzle flash (though some oil-based or water-based silencers will spit a very small cloud of water or oil), help the sound not carry as far, and if you hear them, make it difficult to determine where the shot came from.

Most of the rounds that make noises that carry a long way are supersonic (most bullets are), but rounds like the .45 ACP, which are subsonic, won't. Most of that crack you hear over long distances is not from the weapon being fired -- it's from the round breaking the sound barrier. Just as an aircraft breaking the sound barrier will produce a shock wave (the sonic boom) that will carry a long way, so will a bullet. Subsonic bullet reports do not carry as far.
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graebarde
There are a number of variables that must be taken into account for sure. One not mentioned is temperature. While it's not gunfire, I do recall overhearing a conversation that took place a mile away. The folks were talking plainly. It startled me to hear them talking as I had just come out of the house. Conditions: Calm, night, and -40F. The only time it happened, but it did. Spooky too.
It also depends on the terrain conditions -- a shot is more likely to be heard a long way away if you fire it in the Grand Canyon than if you fire it deep inside Yosemite. There's an interesting room as Bell Laboratories that they use to test certain sound equipment -- you can shout in it and almost not even hear yourself, because of the tiling on the walls. There's another one where if you stand in a certain place in the room you can whisper and no one will hear you unless they are standing in another certain part of the room -- where your whisper will sound as loud as a shout. Anywhere else in the room, you'll hear nothing.
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:32 PM
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Being in Montana where you hear a lot of gunfire in the fall when hunting starts, I can say the following:

Average light firearms, such as a .22.. you're only going to hear it about a half mile away...maybe a bit further (sorry, this is going to be in Standard measurements, not metric...my brain doesn't work well in metric at night). Hunting rifles can generally be heard up to about 3-4 miles away. That's hunting rifles fired in the forests and I'm standing out in the open fields. It might be the echo giving it away, but you can pretty distinctly hear the muzzle discharge too. When I'm also in the forest, and the rifle discharge is in the forest, cut that down to about a mile, maybe a bit more.

I'm about 2 miles from a rock quarry where they blast about every day. Due to the duller nature of the explosions, and the fact that they're buried munitions, I can hear them when I'm outside, but not inside. Some days I can even BARELY feel slight taps in the ground when they blast. Being a once-miner, I know how powerful those blasts are up close. I've been too close to one before and was stunned by the concussive blast of one. An exposed explosion, I would imagine, could probably be heard for much, much further.

Now I'll also mention that I KNOW humidity plays a big part in how the sound travels. I moved from a very wet area, where the sounds of things were pretty quickly stifled over very short distances, to a pretty dry area (average humidity is about 16%) where sound seems to travel quite well. So I've noticed a difference in that regard.
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Old 06-25-2009, 01:05 AM
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Default range fire

I remember being a mile - mile and a half from a range where our platoon was doing target practice .Some cliffs and a little vegetation and terrain between us .i. e not open .

Under those conditions the steady fire sounds a little like the drone of a waterfall in the distance ..in a way.

Heard it good though
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:19 PM
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Ever hear a Vulcan from a distance? Sounds like a lawnmower...
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:31 AM
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Default Sound.

Ffffing good question by the way. Can't belive I never posted this myself.

Here are some quick google results:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustics
http://www.freehearingtest.com/hia_gunfirenoise.shtml
http://www.acoustics.org/press/146th/schomer.htm
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=226357
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:27 AM
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Default Sound

In good weather, I can clearly hear shots fired at the rifle range about 6-7 km in a straight line from my house. There is a bit of open farmland in between, as well as forested hills. When it´s overcast, it becomes subdued. Rain either drowns it out completely, or the shooters stay at home (although there´s a roof on the range) I sometimes shoot trap at the same range, and standing below the forested hill where the range is, I get the impression that most of the sound of the rifles passes overhead, even though it´s quite loud at that distance.
Some days I hear automatic fire somewhat less distinct from a military range much farther away. Clearly, it varies quite a lot under differing conditions.
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Old 06-26-2009, 04:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMDeCorba
In good weather, I can clearly hear shots fired at the rifle range about 6-7 km in a straight line from my house. There is a bit of open farmland in between, as well as forested hills. When it´s overcast, it becomes subdued. Rain either drowns it out completely, or the shooters stay at home (although there´s a roof on the range) I sometimes shoot trap at the same range, and standing below the forested hill where the range is, I get the impression that most of the sound of the rifles passes overhead, even though it´s quite loud at that distance.
Some days I hear automatic fire somewhat less distinct from a military range much farther away. Clearly, it varies quite a lot under differing conditions.
I remember how the new powder snow used to muffle evey sound to an eeire silence when out and about up north.

I guess snow would shorten range alot too.
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