There are three main rules to firearm safety. And while your heroine is willing to protect herself with her weapon if circumstances require her to, she only wants to take down the villain. She doesn't need collateral damage - especially if that collateral is really a loved one or herself, for that matter.
1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction - that means a
direction in which, if the gun were to fire, would not cause any
harm especially to your girl. When she moves her gun around
she should not have any of her body parts in front of the barrel
even for a nano-second. Or do - I don't often see self-inflicted
wounds in books, and it might give a fresh spin to your plot line.
2. Finger off the trigger! Flinching comes from a part of the brain
that your heroine can't control. Even Seal Team 6 can't prevent
flinch, and Seal Team 6 would never put their fingers on the
trigger unless they had a target in sight and had decided to pull
If you need to make a mistake, this might be a good one:
newbie/untrained heroine buys a gun thinking that will make her
safe. She walks around her house in a panic with her finger on
the trigger and flinches when someone bangs the door in the
apartment next to hers. Now she has either alerted the bad guy
that she's armed and looking for him, or is now on her way to
jail for shooting through the wall and hitting the neighbor.
* An ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE - means the gun fired when
your heroine didn't intend for it to because of a mechanical
* A NEGLIGENT DISCHARGE - happens when there is user
error - like breaking one of the safety rules.
Video Quick Study (14:15) man discusses what it feels like to
shoot himself. Includes graphic images but there is a warning
beforehand, allowing you to skip that section.
3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Ladies, Get a Grip.The first thing your heroine has to do properly is put the gun in her hand. I know many of you are writing in countries, such as the UK, where guns are prohibited, and you have probably never seen a real gun let alone put one in your hand. So let me try to break this down for you.
Two handed grip
|Pistol M9 (Beretta 92F) in Fist Grip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
for the gun, grabbing it
high in the back strap
area, just under the curve.
The webbing between the
thumb and fingers is
centered. The fingers curl
around the grip.
* Trigger finger runs along
the side of the frame
outside of the
* The gun is in a straight line with the arm bones.
* The support hand wraps the other side of the grip, making sure
that it covers the whole space.
* Thumbs lay parallel on the opposite side of the trigger finger.
Video Quick Study (5:15) Two hand hand grip with special issues
for your heroine.
|Pistol M9 (Beretta 92F) Palm Supported Grip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
gun will break to the left, and she will have trouble getting her
bullet where she wants it to go.
One handed grip
|Pistol M9 (Beretta 92F) one hand grip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
forward like your pointing
your finger at
Video Quick Study (3:40)
Using two different
techniques for one handed
shots. Note: he says, as do
all of the professionals,
"practice." Your heroine will
fail if she is relying on a
scenario to save her life. You
have to show that she gained/or
has skill in order for her to pull off the plot point.
Take a Stance
Shooting stance is also called "platform."
Do not lock your elbows so they act like shock absorbers
There are two basic standing platforms
^ Isosceles - feet shoulder width, parallel, knees slightly bent
^ Weaver - the trigger finger side foot is placed to the rear
* One knee high -
^ the knee on the side of the trigger finger is down.
^ The foot rests on the toes
^ Easy to get up and down from this position - good for speed
* One knee low -
^ Go to one knee high position and sit on back foot
^ More stable when low
^ Can use the raised knee for stabilizing the gun
^ Gives a smaller profile to assailant
* Supported kneeling position
^ Both knees are on the floor and the heroine sits her bottom back
on her heels if the object is very low
^ The arms are supported on an object (not the gun itself)
* Two Knees Down - either high or low
^ Hard for inflexible or older people
* Squat -
^ Just bend and go straight down.
^ Not very stable
^ Use this if your heroine needs to lower herself in a rocky or
glass strewn area.
* Positioning the muzzle so that there is little movement to put the
gun on target.
* Keep the muzzle down where it is safe
Video Quick Study (4:22) Choices in how your heroine holds her gun at the ready.
Line Up! - How to Take AimYour heroine has the villain in her sights.
* she had time to use sights
* She made sure that her sights were aimed center mass with the
forward sight equally placed in the opening of the back sight
* She probably only has time to do a flash sight which means she
has the sights vaguely lined up with her target
Video Quick Study (6:34) sight alignment and sight picture
Video Quick Study (4:50) sight alignment
Your heroine's hand preference and eye preference may not be the same.
* Not all right handed people
are right eyed. Your
character will only discover
this if she is properly
trained. If she is left eyed,
even if she is right handed,
she should shoot left
Why is this important? - She
won't hit her target with
nearly the same accuracy if
she is aiming with the wrong
eye. (Reverse this information
if your character is
a lefty). How could you use this
in your plot? The villain injures
your heroine's right arm, thinking
that he has incapacitated
her shooting, but she shoots with
her non-dominant hand so she
is still able to prevail.
* If your heroine is being attacked quickly or at very close range
she will not be able to pick her stance or aim with the sights.
* She focuses on center mass and pulls the trigger.
If your heroine is having trouble at the range learning how to hit a target, here is a graphic that you can use to write the instructor dialogue, helping your girl correct her problem:
If you want to show your heroine practicing you could have her doing this:
Take a BreathVideo Quick Study (4:38) Breathing and how it effects your sight placement. Also discusses eye dominance
Your heroine pulls the trigger.
* She places the pad of her index finger on the trigger in such a
way that the trigger is pulled straight to the rear.
Video Quick Study (5:46) pulling the trigger properly
... and just like that, it's over. Most confrontations last only 3 seconds with an average of 3 shots. Yup. That fast.
Emotions Your Character Will Experience After a Shooting
* Elation - your heroine vanquished the un-dead hoard! Not only is
your girl thrilled to be alive, but her body is responding with its
own little endorphin party. While this may later produce a sense
of guilt, the reaction is just as natural as the release of adrenaline
in your last scene.
* Revulsion - as the feel-good hip-hip-hoorah hormones fade, a
heroine will often feel revulsion with accompanying
vomiting/nausea, or she may even faint. Your heroine might not
experience this emotion if she has military training or worked as
a first responder.
* Remorse - sadness or sorrow that she was put in the position of
having to kill. This doesn't mean she would change her reaction.
* Self-doubt - Remorse leads to the replay of the scene in your
character's head. Was there another way? Did she have any other
options -while you, her author, know that you cornered her with
no options, that doesn't mean that your heroine is walking around
with a free-conscious.
* Acceptance - Your heroine rightfully concludes that her actions
were justifiable and necessary given her plot line.
* After a traumatic life-or-death situation, many people experience
PTSD. Please got to this Blog Link for an explanation.
This blog article is based on my experience at an all-day dynamic gun training class that I took at Nottoway Wildlife Association, LINK called "Personal Protection in the Home," following NRA curriculum.
I used the reference, NRA Guide to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home (2000) to write this article.
As always, this is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.