Ricochets can be lethal. A notable death caused by ricochet was the hostage Katrina Dawson, during the Lindt cafe siege in December 2014, killed by a ricochet from a police bullet when tactical officers stormed the building. Police say they were trying to save other hostages, but note that some of the shots fired by the officers may have hit her as she was lying on the floor.
The cause of her death has been reported as gunshot wound to the head.
Gunfire can be deadly even when not aimed at a person. During an incident in August 2013 when officers were firing at a vehicle driven by a suspect who had already killed one person and injured two others, one officer's shot went through the front seat where a young child was sitting and struck another child in the back seat. The shooter's partner was using his body to shield the children from gunfire.
The presence of children should never be used as justification for shooting at anything with wheels, including vehicles driving away from you, nor should it be used as an excuse not to try to capture or otherwise stop fleeing suspects.
Officers need to be aware of the potential for ricochets when shooting outside of their vehicle. They should take special care not to shoot at moving objects with which they are not intended to collide. This is especially important when shooting at targets located several hundred feet away.
When this recovered bullet ricocheted off of a hard, granular surface, it generated roughened abrasions and asymmetrical jacket damage. Not all ricochets are unintentional. Various bullets are shot with the goal of ricocheting, as in the ricochets of some ball sports such as basketball and pool. These bullets are called "spent" bullets because they have been used once; they no longer contain enough kinetic energy to be dangerous.
The majority of ricochets are caused by ammunition failures during shooting, such as a bullet that did not go into the target or one that over-expanded when fired. The person shooting the weapon is then able to see how well their shots were doing by looking at where the bullets land. If someone was trying to kill you, you wouldn't want them to know who succeeded and failed, so most likely these failures would happen during covert operations.
Ricochets can also be created intentionally by gunsmiths to alter the performance of weapons. For example, gunmakers may rattle bullets in metal cups to break up clusters before firing or rub bullets on cloth to create more drag during flight.
Finally, some people are lucky enough to live in places where many bullets will never reach the ground. When this occurs, they don't need to worry about ricochets. However, since these people are in danger every time they go out their doors, we can assume they are targets rather than witnesses.
When the bullet nose is distorted or fails to enter the body in a nose-forward posture, a ricocheted hollow-point bullet may overpenetrate the tissue. Internal ricochet can also occur when a gunshot impacts firm tissue. The bullet may be deflected into less dense material, where it continues on its path in an outward direction.
Ricocheting bullets are dangerous because they can exit the victim through unharmed parts of their body. This can happen when the bullet travels across soft tissues such as the brain or heart. It can also happen when the bullet enters a bone and then rebounds back out into more delicate tissue. This can happen when there is a lot of blood around the wound site for example when a shot to the chest kills the person.
Ricocheting bullets can cause serious injuries to people who aren't treated quickly because they may think that only their outer clothing has been hit. These victims need to have any loose material removed immediately to allow doctors to see how many bones they've broken and other internal injuries they may have suffered.
When a bullet impacts a sufficiently substantial target at a low angle, it may be deflected off its original course as a result of contact and travel in a route significantly different from its original one while retaining its integrity. A gunshot deflected in this manner is considered a real ricochet. The degree to which the bullet is deflected depends on many factors such as the type of weapon used, the ammunition loaded into the gun, the weather conditions, and the material onto which it hits.
A bullet that does not ricochet but rather passes through the target is called a non-deflecting bullet. It can be identified by the fact that none of the particles of the bullet are left behind when it exits the target.
The term "ricochet" was first used by William Alexander, 3rd Earl of Stirling in his 1719 book Military Antiquities. He explained that bullets would ricochet off metal plates hung from ropes between two forts as a way to communicate without being seen by enemy soldiers. This method is still used today by snipers when they want to send a message to others or just take a break from battle.
Bullets are usually reflected back toward their source if they hit a surface at an angle less than 30 degrees from the incoming direction. However, if the impact angle is greater than 30 degrees, the bullet will pass through the target and not reflect back.