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There's a scene in my story where a character is required to save another from a sniper shot. This character has enhanced sense, the ability to use manifest energy that can be condensed as a shield, and superhuman strength/toughness. However, I wanted to at least try following the laws of physics, and this character while physically impressive, is only a 300 year old vampire, while there are much older vampire out there.

Basically, I'm trying to find a balance in power scaling, to where empowered humans can keep up with this 300 age vampire, without needing to make them 30x stronger than regular people or crazy numbers like that.

I was thinking the vampire would use enhanced senses to pick up the bullet and a barrier to stop it. But what sort of reaction time would this require? Is it possible to physically react to it, say swipe it with claws, without being obscenely strong? And what sort of sense would the vampire use to plausibly pick up the bullet?

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marked as duplicate by Josh King, Frostfyre, Vincent, L.Dutch, Mołot Sep 14 '17 at 14:45

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    $\begingroup$ the problem is that a bullet travels faster than the speed of sound, he would have to hear the sniper get into position, because the bullet would get to him before the sound of the trigger being pulled. $\endgroup$ – Richard U Sep 14 '17 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ Even ignoring the issue of the bullet's supersonicness, which I aimed to do in my question How quickly could a cyborg determine that a bullet has been fired from the sound alone?, it'll take a non-negligible amount of time just to determine that the bullet has been fired. (The accepted answer says more than several hundred milliseconds.) The bullet will travel a significant distance in that time. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 14 '17 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ In vampire games and similar it's called "presence" when vampire can sense somebody with ill intentions. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Sep 14 '17 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ The current world record for a sniper shot os over 3000m, using a .50 cal rifle, so you have a pretty formidable task to locate the sniper, determine the trajectory of the round, and then stop a freaking .50 round moving at supersonic velocity. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 15 '17 at 3:04
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Depending on how enhanced you make your Vampire's senses, instead of picking up the bullet he could pick up the sniper.

Hearing an accelerated heartrate, hearing the slide on the gun move when it's loaded, smelling the sniper etc.

To keep it tense have him/her/them notice the sniper just before the shot is fired. That way they'd have time to get in the way before it hits without needing impossibly fast reflexes, but still have to move quickly to save the other character.

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  • $\begingroup$ So let's say the sniper is noticed and the vampire reacts after the bullet is fired. Would that be considered "impossibly fast"? $\endgroup$ – ValiantThor Sep 14 '17 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ @ValiantThor depends on how far the sniper is from the target. At max range, with a muzzle velocity of ~1km/s, you'd have 1-2 seconds to respond appropriately. Reacting in that time frame would be superhumanly fast, but I don't know that it would be impossibly fast. $\endgroup$ – Chris M. Sep 14 '17 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed with @Chris M. That comes down to the circumstances you set up in your story. $\endgroup$ – Schrodinger'sStat Sep 14 '17 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ I do think that reacting AFTER the bullet is fired would be more of a stretch than say, detecting the sniper and moving to react at the moment of the shot being fired $\endgroup$ – Schrodinger'sStat Sep 14 '17 at 16:46
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The comments do a great job pointing out just how fast a bullet from a sniper rifle is, so it's probably not within the scope of realism in your narrative for the vampire to hear the shot and be able to react, especially at a close range. When you say sniper though, I don't often think of the action movie cliché where someone with a high caliber rifle is across the street on top of a parking garage - that's honestly a waste of the potential of the gun, not to mention (even more of) a hazard to bystanders.

If the sniper is acting at near maximum range for the weapon, like in a war zone, there are lots of variables that could make him miss his mark. Long distance sniping is like trying to launch a spacecraft - everything is your enemy in the pursuit of precision. I can't speak for the possibility of hearing a sniper and his spotter setting up shop from a mile or so away, but if we were to say our "hero" had some insider info that the victim was about to be sniped, redirecting the bullet through use of force would probably be a better option than just setting up a force field to stop it or catch it.

If we're following the action movie cliché, though... @Schrodinger'sStat probably provided the best answer. Noticing the gunman setting up shop would be within the realm of possibility, assuming victim, vampire, and gunman are all close to each other.

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