SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.
SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED UNIT STANDARD: 

Demonstrate an understanding of the field of forensic ballistics 
SAQA US ID UNIT STANDARD TITLE
244150  Demonstrate an understanding of the field of forensic ballistics 
ORIGINATOR
SGB Forensic Science 
PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QUALITY ASSURANCE FUNCTIONARY
-  
FIELD SUBFIELD
Field 08 - Law, Military Science and Security Safety in Society 
ABET BAND UNIT STANDARD TYPE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL CREDITS
Undefined  Regular  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
REGISTRATION STATUS REGISTRATION START DATE REGISTRATION END DATE SAQA DECISION NUMBER
Reregistered  2018-07-01  2023-06-30  SAQA 06120/18 
LAST DATE FOR ENROLMENT LAST DATE FOR ACHIEVEMENT
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This unit standard does not replace any other unit standard and is not replaced by any other unit standard. 

PURPOSE OF THE UNIT STANDARD 
On completion of this unit standard the learner will be able to understand the elementary components of the field of ballistics as an introduction to understanding the underlying principles of ballistics examinations for the purpose of forensic investigations.

The learner will understand elementary concepts of projectile motions inside a firearm during the firing process, the underlying principles of bullet motion external to the firearm and be able to perform elementary trajectory determinations as part of forensic ballistics examinations. This unit standard will also provide the learner with the elementary principles of terminal and intermediate ballistics in order to understand the interaction of a bullet and a target and how these principles are used in a forensic ballistics examination.

A person credited with this unit standard will be able to:
  • Explain the elementary principles of internal ballistics in terms of firearm mechanisms.
  • Explain the elementary principles of external ballistics in context of forensic ballistics examinations.
  • Explain the elementary principles of terminal ballistics in terms of the interaction of a bullet and a target.
  • Explain intermediate ballistics principles in terms of the events surrounding the muzzle of a firearm. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
  • "Demonstrate an understanding of forensic science", ID 242712.
  • "Demonstrate an understanding of the specialised fields in forensic science", ID 242708.
  • Communication at NQF level 4.
  • Mathematics at NQF level 4.
  • Physical Science at NQF level 4. 

  • UNIT STANDARD RANGE 
    N/A 

    Specific Outcomes and Assessment Criteria: 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 1 
    Explain the elementary principles of internal ballistics in terms of firearm mechanisms. 
    OUTCOME RANGE 
    Internal ballistics principles refer to but are not limited to:
  • Bullet velocity, energy conversions, barrel life and pressure, corrosion and friction). 

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The firing process is explained in terms of the projectile motion inside the firearm. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Velocity and energy of a bullet is described in terms of the influencing factors. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Influencing factors refer to but are not limited to:
  • Gas pressure, base area of bullet, torque on the bullet and weight of the projectile.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Propellant gas is described in terms of the energy conversions during the firing process of a firearm. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Barrel life is explained in terms of factors caused by the firing process of a firearm. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Factors refer to but are not limited to:
  • Corrosion, friction, erosion and wear.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 2 
    Explain the elementary principles of external ballistics in context of forensic ballistics examinations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Bullet retardation is explained in terms of air resistance and construction of the bullet. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    The concept of retardation analysis and bullet tables must be included here.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    The motion of a bullet is explained according to external factors influencing bullet trajectories from the moment it leaves the firearm to when it hits the target. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    External factors refer to but are not limited to:
  • Air resistance, wind deflection results and influence of spin on a bullet fired with a firearm.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Determine the position of a bullet by the analysis of a simple trajectory in a vacuum. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Concepts of speed, distance and angle must be used in these determinations.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    The application of external ballistics principles in forensic ballistics examinations is explained. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    External ballistics principles refer to but are not limited to:
  • Trajectory determination and table approach.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 3 
    Explain the elementary principles of terminal ballistics in terms of the interaction of a bullet and a target. 
    OUTCOME RANGE 
    Target refers to animate or inanimate targets and the principles of wound ballistics will be included in the concepts of terminal ballistics. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Firearm wounds are defined according to hydrodynamic events and kinetic energy transfer when a bullet hit human or animal tissue. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Elementary physiological damage to human and animal tissue by firearm wounds is described for the purpose of forensic ballistics investigations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Elementary physiological damage refers to but is not limited to:
  • The temporary wound channel, the zone of extravagation and the permanent wound channel.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Firearm wounds are classified in context to forensic ballistics investigations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Firearm wounds classification refers to but is not limited to:
  • Penetration wounds, perforating wounds, entrance and exit wounds and gutter wounds.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Factors influencing penetration, perforation and ricochet of bullets to human or animal tissue, are explained. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Influencing factors refer to but are not limited to:
  • The potential and kinetic energy of the bullet, bullet composition, bullet velocity, trajectory range of a bullet, bullet stability and target composition.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 5 
    Soot and tattooing appearance on human and animal skin is described when examining firearm wounds in forensic ballistics examinations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Firearm wounds refer to but are not limited to:
  • Wounds caused by revolvers, rifles and pistols.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 6 
    Wound ballistics principles are applied to forensic ballistics investigations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Forensic ballistics investigations refer to but are not limited to:
  • Distance determination, calibre determination, x-rays localization of fired bullets, fragments and shotgun pellets, determination of the bullet trajectory through the body, calibre determination of bullets and shotgun pellets, dispersion pattern of shotgun pellets and the localization of other strange objects.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 7 
    Determinations from a target are explained in context to forensic ballistics wound examinations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Determinations from a target refer to but are not limited to:
  • Calibre and bullet type, angle of incidence for the trajectory, distance at which the shot was fired, the primary or secondary nature of the target.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 8 
    The use of simulates in wound ballistic tests are explained in context to forensic ballistics investigations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Simulates refer to but are not limited to:
  • Gelatine, soap, plastic and animals.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 9 
    Body armour to protect against bullet wounding is explained according to functioning principles. 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 4 
    Explain intermediate ballistics principles in terms of the events surrounding the muzzle of a firearm. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Intermediate ballistics is defined in terms of the firearm muzzle modifications and firing processes near firearm barrels. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Firearm mechanisms refer to but are not limited to:
  • Muzzle extensions and modifications, muzzle flash, flash hider, flash reducer, silencer, barrel porting, compensator and muzzle brake.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Primer residue is explained as an intermediate ballistics principle used in forensic examinations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    The parameters that determine the appearance of dispersion patterns by firearms are explained in context to distance determination in forensic ballistics examinations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Parameters refers to but are not limited to:
  • Firearms, ammunition, distance at which the shot was fired and the target. 


  • UNIT STANDARD ACCREDITATION AND MODERATION OPTIONS 
  • Any individual who wishes to be assessed against this unit standard (including assessment of RPL) may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA, or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Anyone assessing a learner against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA, or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA. Assessors must be competent in the outcome of the Unit Standard.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard or assessing this unit standard must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Moderation of assessment will be conducted by the relevant ETQA according to the moderation guidelines in the relevant qualification and the relevant ETQA procedures. 

  • UNIT STANDARD ESSENTIAL EMBEDDED KNOWLEDGE 
  • Current and as amended Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977) as substituted by Section 11 of the General Law Sixth Amendment Act (Act 204 of 1993).
  • Current and as amended Civil Proceedings Evidence Act (Act 25 of 1965).
  • Current and as amended Section 212(4) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977).
  • Current and as amended Inquests Act (Act 58 of 1959).
  • Current and as amended Arms and Ammunition Act (Act 75 of 1969).
  • Current and as amended Dangerous Weapons Act (Act 71 of 1968) and Arms and Ammunition Act (Act 75 of 1969).
  • Current and amended Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000).
  • Explosive Act (pertaining to black powder).
  • Current relevant occupational health and safety legislation.
  • Gas law of Boyle.
  • Resistance.
  • Gas pressure.
  • Kinetic energy.
  • Corrosion, erosion and wear.
  • Motion.
  • Energy forms.
  • Mass.
  • Friction.
  • Atmospheric density.
  • Temperature.
  • Pressure.
  • Viscosity.
  • Speed.
  • Laws of Newton.
  • Elementary introduction into the human anatomy. 

  • UNIT STANDARD DEVELOPMENTAL OUTCOME 
    N/A 

    UNIT STANDARD LINKAGES 
    N/A 


    Critical Cross-field Outcomes (CCFO): 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO IDENTIFYING 
    Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions, using critical thinking, have been made. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO WORKING 
    Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation or community. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO COMMUNICATING 
    Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical, and/or language skills in the modes of written and/or oral presentation. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO SCIENCE 
    Use science and technology effectively and critically, show responsibility towards the environment and the health of others. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO DEMONSTRATING 
    Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation. 

    UNIT STANDARD ASSESSOR CRITERIA 
    N/A 

    REREGISTRATION HISTORY 
    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this unit standard was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    UNIT STANDARD NOTES 
    Glossary of Terminology:

    Forensic ballistics refers to the following five fields:
  • Internal ballistics.
  • External ballistics.
  • Intermediate ballistics.
  • Terminal ballistics.
  • Tool marks.
  • Barrel life: Period for which the barrel of a firearm, that is the metallic tube of a gun, from which a projectile is discharged, is functional.
  • Barrel porting: A simple barrel modification, consisting of slits cut into the barrel near the muzzle.
  • Bullet retardation: Negative acceleration of a bullet after leaving the barrel and before hitting a target.
  • Compensator: An attachment to the barrel muzzle to reduce the upwards motion of the barrel due to recoil forces.
  • Corrosion: The gradual destruction or undermining of something.
  • Dispersion patterns: The pattern that a firearm will disperse ammunition gasses, smoke, soot unburned and partially burnt propellant particles as it leaves the barrel of a firearm. The residues are transmitted to targets at shot range.
  • Energy conversion: The transition of energy from one state to another.
  • Entrance wound: A wound caused by a bullet that penetrated a body.
  • Exit wound: A wound caused by a bullet that exited a body.
  • External ballistics: External ballistics is the study of bullet motion from the moment it leaves the firearm until it reaches the target.
  • Flash hider: It is an attachment to the muzzle of the firearm with the purpose of hiding the flash when the hot gases leaves the muzzle and comes in contact with the oxygen rich air around the barrel.
  • Flash reducer: Muzzle attachment on a firearm with the purpose of reducing the muzzle flashes during the firing of a shot.
  • Friction: A force that resists the relative motion or tendency to such motion of two bodies in contact.
  • Gutter wound: A wound caused by a bullet that does not enter the body but graze across the skin and the underlying tissue.
  • Hydrodynamic: Operated by the force of water in motion.
  • Intermediate ballistics: Intermediate ballistics can be defined in general as the transition process from internal to external ballistics, in other words the events surrounding the muzzle (Farrar et al., 1983: 53).
  • Internal Ballistics: Internal ballistics can be defined as the scientific study of projectile motion inside a firearm. This includes actions from the moment the firing pin strikes the primer until the projectile leaves the barrel and is the process of propellant ignition and burning.
  • Kinetic energy: Energy relating to motion.
  • Muzzle brake: An attachment to the muzzle of the firearm with the purpose of 'braking' or reducing the recoil of the firearm as well as muzzle whip during the firing of the shot.
  • Muzzle flash: The light created by the burning process when hot gasses and particles leave the muzzle and comes in contact with oxygen rich air around the barrel.
  • Penetrating wound: If a bullet enters an object without leaving it again, it will be called a penetrating wound.
  • Perforating wound: In a perforating wound, the bullets move through the object and leave the object.
  • Primer residue: Primer residue particles are particles that originate from the cartridge primer and which is present in the gasses that are generated when a firearm is fired. These particles will be blown on the hands of the person firing the firearm.
  • Pseudo tattooing: Small wounds around the entrance bullet wound with the appearance of tattooing.
  • Ricochet: A ricochet can be identified as the collision and rebounding of the projectile from an object in its trajectory.
  • Scalar: An entity with magnitude only.
  • Silencer: A tube shaped attachment normally attached to the muzzle with the purpose of reducing the noise during the firing of the shot (AFTE glossary, 2001).
  • Soot: Soot is formed during the burning process of the propellant, when a firearm is fired.
  • Tattooing: Tattooing can be described as small superficial wounds caused when the partially burnt or unburned propellant particles are peppered into the skin (Schwär et al., 1984).
  • Terminal ballistics: Terminal ballistics relates to the interaction of the bullet and the target.
  • Tissue simulates: Materials used to simulate the reactions of projectiles in tissue.
  • Vector: An entity with magnitude and direction or position.
  • Velocity: Velocity is a vector with magnitude and direction.
  • Speed: Speed only indicates magnitude and is therefore a scalar.
  • Wound: A wound created by a firearm (also called a bullet wound). 

  • QUALIFICATIONS UTILISING THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
      ID QUALIFICATION TITLE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL STATUS END DATE PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QA FUNCTIONARY
    Elective  57651   National Certificate: Forensic Science  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  Reregistered  2023-06-30  SAS SETA 


    PROVIDERS CURRENTLY ACCREDITED TO OFFER THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
     
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    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.