Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ready! Aim! Fire! Dynamic Handguns and Shooting in a Structure: Info for Writers Prt 2

Your heroine stands quivering at the counter. She's decided that the pepper spray she's been carrying in her purse since her dad slipped it in there on her first day of college, ten years ago, is probably not going to be enough to protect her from the PCP dropping crazy guy who's been following her. She reaches a tentative hand out and lifts the Glock. "Yes, I can do this," she says. 

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 
     the trigger.

     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
Pistol M9 (Beretta 92F) in Fist Grip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* The shooting hand reaches
   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
    trigger guard.
* 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
Pistol M9 (Beretta 92F) Palm Supported Grip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* If your heroine uses a palm supported grip like the one above, her
   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
Pistol M9 (Beretta 92F) one hand grip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thrust your hand
   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. 

Ready position
* 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 Aim

Your 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. 

Point Shooting
* 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 Breath

Video Quick Study (4:38) Breathing and how it effects your sight placement. Also discusses eye dominance

Breathing. - In the above video quick study, the instructor indicates that you should not hold your breath when shooting. It is better to use breath control to minimize gun movement. And this is true when shooting on the range or when your heroine has the element of surprise on her side and has an opportunity to use those techniques. In a defensive confrontation on the other hand, your heroine should hold her breath while pulling the trigger.


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.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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.

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