A warning shot
is a military term describing harmless artillery
shot or gunshot intended to call attention and demand some action of compliance. It is recognised as signalling intended confrontations on land, sea and air.
As an analogy, "warning shot" can be said of any action of declaration, especially a demonstration of power, intended or perceived as a last warning before hostile measures.
During the 18th Century, a warning shot (in nautical terms, often called a shot across the bow
) could be fired towards any ship whose "colours
" (nationality) had to be ascertained. According to the law of the sea
, a ship thus hailed had to fly her flag and confirm it with a gunshot. Warning shots may still be used in modern times to signal a vessel to stop or keep off and may be fired from other ships, boats, or aircraft.
Warning shots are also used in military aviation
, to demand some action of an "enemy" aircraft; the most common demand would be for the aircraft to change course. The ostensible justification for firing shots is that tracer rounds
are very bright and would immediately gain the attention of a crew whose radio is non-functioning, or who might not... Read More