A projectile is an object that has been thrown or projected, and it will continue in motion through the air due to its momentum. The term “projectile” can also refer to a high-speed stream of water from a hose or even a person. That isn’t what we are discussing here though! In this text, the projectile refers to something that was projected into the air and then follows a parabolic trajectory under the influence of gravity. This can be anything from a baseball being tossed across the field by one player to another, to an astronaut being launched into space by an enormous rocket.

What is a projectile?

A projectile is any object that moves through the air or space. It always has gravity pulling it toward the Earth, and drag, which is the force of air resistance slowing it down.

When you throw a ball into the air, gravity pulls it down until there’s equal acceleration between the ball and Earth (a vector), at which point gravity stops pulling it downward but drag does keep slowing it down until it reaches terminal velocity—its maximum speed for no other forces acting on it.

What is terminal velocity?

Terminal velocity is the maximum speed a projectile will travel. Terminal velocity is determined by the drag force, which acts in a direction opposite to that of the projectile and equals the product of its mass and drag coefficient times its acceleration. As long as there is an atmosphere around your projectile, it will eventually reach terminal velocity.

The terminal velocity of a projectile depends on three factors: mass, drag coefficient (which depends on the shape), and density (which depends on composition).

Projectile range formulas

R = v_0 \times \sqrt {\frac {2 \times g \times s}{m}}

This is the formula for calculating the range of a projectile. It’s pretty simple, but there are lots of ways to mess up when using it. Here are some tips:

  • Use the right units—the distance you want to calculate should be in meters and time should be in seconds
  • Watch out for those pesky decimals! The answer might not come out with nice whole numbers if there are any decimal places at all!

Projectile range calculator example

Throwing a ball is a great example of how to use the projectile range calculator. If you throw a ball at an initial velocity of 40 feet per second, and the maximum range of that projectile is 120 feet, how long will it take for that ball to hit the ground?

The maximum range of a projectile formula can be used to find out! Plugging in our known values gives us:

120 = v^2 - (0.5) \times t^2

This allows us to solve for t using our quadratic equation:

t = \sqrt {\frac {2gh}{m}}


g = 9.8m/s^2, h=120m \text { and } m=1kg

How to use the projectile range calculator

With that said, our projectile range calculator uses a different formula to calculate the range. Furthermore, it has two modes, a simple and an advanced mode.

In the simple mode, all you have to do is enter the starting velocity, the angle of launch, and the initial height, and you will get the range your projectile can travel.

In the advanced mode, it is essentially the same thing, except you can alter some of the variables, such as the gravitational constant, and you can set both the horizontal and the vertical velocity.


You can use our projectile range calculator to find the maximum distance a projectile can travel. The calculator requires that you enter a few basic parameters, like the velocity of your projectile and its initial height. The calculator will then calculate the maximum height your projectile will reach after it has fallen back down to Earth.

By using this tool, you’ll now be able to determine whether or not your target is in range for whatever projective weapons system you happen to be working on!


What is a projectile?

A projectile is an object that has been thrown or projected, and it will continue in motion through the air due to its momentum.

What is terminal velocity?

Terminal velocity is the velocity a free-falling object obtains when the gravitational acceleration and drag equal out, thus not allowing the object to accelerate further.

Can terminal velocity occur in a vacuum?

Terminal velocity can’t occur in a vacuum because there is no drag to act upon the free-falling object.