Projectile Motion Examples in Real Life

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Have you ever noticed the motion of anybody thrown upward? Which path does it follow? How much distance does it cover? What is the variation of speed with time and height? All of these questions can be easily answered with the help of projectile motion.

A projectile motion is the motion of an object thrown upward under the action of gravity. One can also say that if a body is moving in both horizontal as well as in vertical directions, the body is said to be exhibiting a projectile motion.


Examples of Projectile Motion in Real Life

  • Firing a Bullet
  • Path of Basketball
  • Water through Hose
  • Biker performing Stunt
  • Firing a Missile
  • Javelin Throw

Firing a Bullet


As we know that a bullet is fired by the ignition of gunpowder. Mostly we see that it follows a straight line path. Well, we see a straight line path because the distance at which the target is placed is close to the gun (small distance).

However, in some movies, you would have seen that before a sniper fires, he will do some calculations. Ever wondered why? This is because the distance between the sniper and its target is very large. Therefore, as a result, the bullet will travel in projectile motion (very minimal).


Path of Basketball

Image Source: Diabetes UK

Let’s talk about basketball. Have you ever tried to play basketball? How do you take a shot toward the basket? Do you throw it directly to the basket or at some angle? Just because you throw the basket at some angle, the path that basketball follows is a typical example of projectile motion in everyday life.

In fact, this is the reason why we need to practice a lot before going to a match. Our mind is simply not trained enough to think like this. Therefore, as a result, we need to train a lot.

Water through Hose

Image Source: Gardener’s Path

Have you noticed which path water follows when you are washing your car? If the point by which you want to wash your car is close to you, you can directly point towards that in a straight line.

However, if you are washing your car at some distance, you will have to project water at a higher angle, so that the water can easily reach to the car washing destination.


Biker performing Stunt

Image Source: Pinterest

In order to perform the stunt, a stuntman is completely aware of projectile motion. You would have seen that a biker jumps his bike over a ramp and then do some tricks. As he jumps over that ramp, he has both horizontal as well as vertical velocities. At the highest point, the vertical velocity ceases to exit.

However, just because of the fact that there is no horizontal force acting on it, the horizontal velocity of the bike remains constant. One can say that knowing these things, a stuntman knows how to achieve maximum height and the distance at which he wanna land.


Firing a Missile

Image Source: The Times of Israel

Suppose you are sitting somewhere in the United States of America and your target is in Russia. Then, which path should your missile follow? Again, the answer would be Projectile. In order to attain the maximum possible distance, a missile has to be projected or fired at 45°.

Of course, a missile has some energy source that simply provides its continuous motion against the force of gravity. As a result, a missile can travel thousands of kilometers but the path it should follow is again a projectile.


Javelin Throw

Image Source: Olympics

You must have seen an athlete throwing a Javelin. At what angle do we project the Javelin? As per the laws of physics, the angle at which we throw the Javelin is responsible for the distance it will travel during its flight.

By doing some mathematical calculations, it has been concluded that the Javelin travels the maximum distance when projected at the angle of 45°. This is why in order to attain the maximum distance, all the athletes try to project the Javelin near or around the mark of 45°.


Some other Projectile Motion Examples in Everyday Life

Apart from the above-mentioned ones, I am also mentioning a few here.

  • Disc Throw
  • Hammer Throw
  • Firing a Canon
  • Sneezing
  • Gymnastics
  • Short Put
  • Archery
  • Long Jump
  • Ping-pong, etc.

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I am currently working with Cuemath as an online maths educator and teaching students from all over the world. Since I did my BSc in non-medical where I chose physics in my master's (MSc) and decided to deliver my knowledge to help the students in grasping the respective topics of physical sciences by having a glance at my articles.

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