. English longbowmen figure prominently in the foreground at right where they drive away the French crossbowmen.]] A ranged weapon is any weapon that can engage targets beyond hand-to-hand distance, i.e. at distances greater than the physical reach of the user holding the weapon itself. The act of using such a weapon is also known as shooting. It is sometimes also called projectile weapon or missile weapon because it typically works by launching solid projectiles ("missiles"), though technically a fluid-projector (which throws out pressurized streams of liquid or even gas) and a directed-energy weapon (which does not involve any tangible projectile) are also ranged weapons. In contrast, a weapon intended to be used in hand-to-hand combat is called a melee weapon. Ranged weapons give the attacker an advantage, since the target is often getting hit from beyond immediate visual range, therefore making it more difficult for the defenders to react and hitting back effectively. It also puts distance between the attacker and the opponent, which is a safer combat option since the close physical contact during melee fights often puts the attacker within the immediate striking range of enemy counterattacks and thus at an equal risk of getting hurt or killed. The line between ranged and melee weapons is not entirely definite; for instance, spears, axes, daggers, and knives can be used for both throwing and striking, depending on purpose and situation, and a ranged weapon can also be used as a melee weapon in close encounters, such as the buttstock of a rifle used for butt-stroking with a fixed bayonet, a handgun used for pistol-whipping, and even an arrow being used as a hand weapon in desperate situations. Early ranged weapons often included specifically designed hand-thrown weapons such as darts, javelins, slings, as well as more complex elastic weapons such as bows and crossbows; and siege engines like stone throwers, catapults, ballistas and trebuchets. These ranged weapons were extremely effective in ancient and early medieval warfare, especially when used ''en masse'', as they gave the wielder an opportunity to launch multiple rounds of attack before an enemy armed with melee weapons or shorter-ranged missile weapons could even get close enough to pose a threat. After the invention of gunpowder and the development of firearms, gun-type pneumatic ranged weapons became the dominant weapon of choice in armed conflicts, even in close combat. In modern warfare, ranged weaponry is also used both tactically and strategically in the form of long-range artilleries, rockets and guided missiles. The maximum effective range of a weapon is the greatest distance from which the weapon can be fired while still consistently inflicting casualties or damage.

List of ranged weapons

Prehistoric, ancient, and medieval period

of a post-Marian pilum ]] * Hand-thrown ** Barehanded *** Shuriken *** Kunai *** Bolas *** Chakram *** Dart *** Javelin / ''pilum'' *** Plumbata *** Spear *** Swiss arrow *** Throwing axe **** Francisca **** Hunga Munga **** Hurlbat **** Mbanja **** Nzappa zap **** Tomahawk *** Throwing knife *** Throwing stick **** Boomerang **** Knobkierrie **** Rungu **** Valari ** Leverage-enhanced *** Amentum *** Atlatl (spear-thrower) *** Kestros *** Sling *** Woomera * Elastic ** Bow ** Crossbow *** Repeating crossbow ** Cheiroballistra ** Slingshot * Pneumatic ** Blowgun * Siege weapon ** Via mechanical leverage *** Mangonel *** Trebuchet / couillard ** Via elasticity *** Catapult *** Bed crossbow *** Onager *** Ballista **** Scorpion **** Polybolos ** Via Explosive-propelled propulsion *** Cannon (e.g. Wuwei Bronze Cannon) *** Bombard (e.g. Faule Grete, Faule Mette, Pumhart von Steyr, Grose Bochse) *** Mortar *** Fire lance *** Hand cannon (e.g. Heilongjiang hand cannon, Xanadu Gun) *** Cetbang *** Arquebus *** Tanegashima ** Swivel gun * Rocket-propelled ** Fire arrow ** ''Huolongchushui''

Early modern period

* Pneumatic-propelled ** Airgun (e.g. Girandoni air rifle) * Explosive-propelled ** Musket ** Wheellock ** Snaplock / snaphance / miquelet lock ** Doglock ** Flintlock ** ''Che Dian Chong'' ** Pistol ** Blunderbuss ** Musketoon ** Wall gun ** Field gun ** Culverin / demi-culverin ** ''Hongyipao'' ** Hand mortar ** Coehorn ** Zamburak ** ''Hwacha'' ** Breech-loading swivel gun ** Siege cannon (e.g. Abus Gun, Dardanelles Gun, and Tsar Cannon)

Late modern and contemporary period

]] Image:Exocet-mil.jpg|thumb|right|Exocet missile in flight Most modern projectile weapons fall into the broader category of either direct fire or indirect fire, with the former often being regarded as guns and the latter as artillery. While some are small and light enough to be operated by individuals (i.e. small arms and grenade launchers), most require a team of individuals to service, maneuver and operate. * Small arms and light weapons ** Handgun *** Derringer *** Harmonica gun *** Revolver *** Semi-automatic pistol *** Machine pistol ** Long gun *** Rifled musket *** Shotgun *** Rifle **** Single-shot rifle **** Repeating rifle (e.g. revolving rifle, carbine, battle rifle, assault rifle, DMR/sniper rifle, etc) *** Submachine gun / personal defense weapon *** Squad automatic weapon / light machine gun ** Grenade launcher * Crew-served weapon ** Medium machine gun / general purpose machine gun ** Anti-material rifle / anti-tank rifle ** Recoilless rifle * Heavy weapon and vehicle-mounted weapon systems ** Heavy machine gun ** Autocannon ** Volley gun ** Multiple-barrel firearm *** Gatling gun *** Minigun / Microgun *** Rotary cannon *** Close-in weapon system * Artillery ** Mortar ** Artillery battery *** Anti-aircraft gun / flak cannon *** Coastal artillery ** Field artillery *** Howitzer / gun howitzer *** Mountain gun *** Anti-tank gun *** Self-propelled artillery **** Tank gun **** Assault gun ** Naval artillery ** Aircraft artillery * Rocket weaponry ** Rocket launcher *** Rocket-propelled grenade / shoulder-fired missile *** Rocket artillery **** Rocket pod **** Multiple rocket launcher ** Guided missile *** Air-to-air missile *** Air-to-surface missile *** Anti-submarine missile *** Surface-to-air missile **** Man-portable air-defense system **** Anti-ballistic missile *** Anti-satellite weapon *** Surface-to-surface missile **** Anti-tank guided missile **** Anti-ship missile **** Ballistic missile ***** Tactical ballistic missile ***** Theater ballistic missile (short-range ballistic missile, medium-range ballistic missile) ***** Intermediate-range ballistic missile / long-range ballistic missile ***** Intercontinental ballistic missile ***** Anti-ship ballistic missile ***** Submarine-launched ballistic missile **** Cruise missile ***** Submarine-launched cruise missile *** Torpedo *** Flamethrower *** Water cannon / waterjet disruptor

Future and conceptual weapon period

* High-acceleration linear motor ** Railgun ** Coilgun ** Helical railgun * Directed energy weapon ** Laser weapon ** Electrolaser ** Pulsed energy projectile ** Dazzler ** Particle-beam weapon ** Microwave weapon ** Sonic weapon

See also

* Projectile * Trajectory of a projectile * Siege engine * List of artillery * List of missiles * List of missiles by nation


Further reading

* Gray, David (2002) ''Bows of the World''. The Lyons Press. * (1992) ''The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 1''. The Lyons Press. . * (1992) ''The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 2''. The Lyons Press. . * (1994) ''The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 3''. The Lyons Press. . * The ballistics of the sling, Thom Richardson, Royal Armouries Yearbook, Volume 3 1998.

External links

Short Bows and Long Bows: Scaling effects in archery

€”Their evolution

"Secrets of Lost Empires: Medieval Siege" (building of and history of trebuchets)
from the ''NOVA'' website
Modern and Civil War Era Cannon Information
(Wayback Machine copy) {{Authority control