CALL 6: Indiana State Police investigate how far away gunshots can be heard

Posted at 12:05 AM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 08:22:32-04

PENDLETON, Ind. -- Was that gunshots or fireworks?

It's a common question for some who live in certain parts of Indianapolis, but trying to determine where those shots come from and how far away they are can be difficult. 

Last month, there were 741 calls to Marion County’s 911 Center reporting shots fired, according to reports obtained by Call 6 Investigates.

So how far does the actual sound of a gunshot travel?

According to an acoustic engineering professor at Purdue University, numerous factors – like weather and temperature – can affect how far sound travels. Sound travels farthest when the ground is cooler, like in the late night or early morning hours. 

Call 6 Investigates teamed up with Indiana State Police at the outdoor gun range in Pendleton to determine how far the sound of a gunshot can be heard. 

Indiana State Police used a 45-caliber handgun and an AR-15 rifle for the test.

Our Call 6 Investigates photographer then headed down the road, stopping each quarter of a mile to see if he or the camera could hear the shots.

While the sound faded the further away we got, gunshots could still be heard two miles away from the range.

Another big question people ask is what should you do if you hear gunshots?

Most people never call 911 when they hear gunshots, but Indiana State Police say you should report gunshots anytime you hear them. 

The more calls dispatchers receive, the easier it will be for police to determine where the shots were coming from so they can find the person who fired the gun. 

Dispatchers say you should always make sure you’re in a safe place before calling 911 and give them as much information as possible, including:

  • When you heard the gunshot
  • Where you heard the gunshot
  • What direction the gunshot appeared to be was coming from
  • How loud you could hear the gunshot