Showing posts with label Nottoway Wildlife Association. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nottoway Wildlife Association. Show all posts

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dynamic Handguns and Shooting in a Structure: Information for Writers Prt 1 - Plotting Gems

graphic found on Facebook
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. 

These are the same folks who taught me about rifles in this article: BLOG LINK

You are writing a kick ass heroine. Woot! And while everyone loves a beautiful, smart, effective heroine, and I have one as the main character in my Lynx series, it also adds dimension and reality if she struggles a little bit. One of my writing coaches told me that if things are going well for your heroine, you're writing it wrong. Your girl should be constantly struggling.

Well if I were a template for a heroine in a dynamic gun situation, believe me there was a whole lot of struggling going on. 

Before your heroine even brings a gun into her home she:

* Understands that using a gun or any lethal weapon
   is a tool of last resort - though your heroine doesn't believe this
   standard applies during a zombie apocalypse.

* Understands that gun laws and her decision making is
   based on locality; she should know her laws and have made her
   decisions in advance. How your plot advances depends on the
   reality of those laws.

The focus of this first blog in the three-part Dynamic Handgun series is take-away plotting gems that I picked up through hands on practice and lecture.

Found on Facebook

Things I learned: Or, Why your heroine can't go out and buy a gun today, and blow away the bad guy who jumps out of her closet with a machete in his hands tomorrow.

* Firing on a range and
Indoor Shooting Range at Sarasota, Florida, US...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
   (moving/situational) firing
   are vastly different.
* Firing on the fly without
   lining up the sites and
   having time to
   check stance, breathing, etc.
   will definitely effect your
   heroine's ability to hit the
   mark dead center. 
   Her goal is merely center-
   mass. As a range shooter, I
   hit bulls' eyes. That day? 
   Eh, not so much.

* I am a dancer/MA fighter; you'd think that I had control over my
   body. When my focus was on the "bad guy" also known as the
   little piece of paper in front of me, my coordination was off. Way
   Watch this video that was taken on the archery range.

   Here you can see the technique while focused on a single task.
   My right elbow is down and back. Then I was asked to perform a
   memory task and a speech task with the second shot. Even
   moving with plenty of time and deliberation, you can see my
   practiced body mechanics shift; my right elbow went above
   my head. The point here being - your heroine must practice
   situational, all components put together, tactics if you are going to
   write her a successful outcome. Doing it first time on-the-fly
   just won't fly with your readers who know anything about tactical

   * Past injuries can effect your character's ability to move fluidly
   into certain dynamic poses. For example, as I tried to follow the
   instructions to go down on my right knee, I felt like and old rusted
   gate. My ACL (central knee ligament) is made from a cadaver
   ligament after a fight that did not end in my favor. Who knew this
   would impact anything? In MA practice and dancing, I simply
   don't make that move. For me everything was very crunchy
   granola, and I lost my balance on the way down. So think about
   your character's past injuries and how they could effect her
   present-time shooting scenarios. Did something happen in the past
   that could trip her up now? Remember, nothing should come easy
   for her

   Brian Coates, whom you will see in the ThrillWriting 
   inset video at the bottom of this article, is a U.S. Marine Corp.
   veteran. He moved into place and dropped to his knee smoothly.
   (I'd say gracefully, but I think that would paint the wrong 

   Video Quick Study (3:46) Shooting on the move

   Practice makes perfect. Practice on this specific move - not just a 
   generally fit/sportive heroine. While being an active person might 
   make the learning curve quicker, there will still be a learning

* In my mind, switching to non-dominant hand shooting was no
   big deal. When I was actually asked to perform the task, I had to
   stop and look at my gun and figure out how to change my
   fingering, my left finger on the trigger felt really odd and pulling
   the trigger with my left index finger felt even odder. Did your
   heroine sustain an injury to her dominant arm/hand
   necessitating a switch? It's not going to be as easy or effective as 
   it is in the movies unless she trained this action.

English: Naval Station Everett, Wash (Jan. 29,...
) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Eyesight matters. I know
   you're thinking, no duh. But
   what if your heroine wears
   glasses or contacts? Does
   she have time to grab her
   glasses and her gun? 

   What if there is low light/no
   light? Did she practice 
   aiming with her eyes 
   closed? Does she have 
   a light attached to her gun? 
   A laser?

   Consider not  just eyesight
   but visual dexterity. 
   How quickly can your
   heroine spot and decipher a 
   potential threat especially 
   in an adrenaline impacted 
   situation? This is a trained
   response. Maybe not 
   necessarily combat training
   but some discrimination training

   Did her past job/conditioning make certain eye patterns difficult? 
   Let me give you and example: 
   One of our tasks was to not aim the gun with sights but merely to
   look at the center of the target and pull the trigger. My paper had 
   bullet holes neatly placed all the way around the outside of the
   target circle not a single shot made it to the inside. 

Image found publicly on Facebook
I feel his pain

   When my instructors talked to me about focus, I realized that I 
   could not perform this task because I have done neuro-plasticity 
   training that required me to look at a center point and focus on
   the periphery. Something I will now train to overcome. Gamers
   might have this kind of reaction and certain sports. 

Image copied from Facebook

* While revolvers are predictably reliable, automatics fail. My gun
   needed oil, so it failed quite a bit. (Lesson learned.)
   ` Stove pipe - when a bullet sticks straight up in the chamber
   ` Two bullets in the chamber
     Video Quick Study (10:37) malfunctions and clearing
     instructions notice he says to practice at home with snap caps.
     Your heroine must practice to be effective.

graphic found on Facebook

* They ran a drill that demonstrated a knife wielding villain can get
   to and injure your heroine before she could get a shot off (with
   the gun already in her hands). This might be good news for a 
   heroine who attempts to flee a gun scene. It might be bad news to
   your heroine if she is all that's standing between the bad guy and 
   the future of the world as we know it.

* Being shot is not as effective as one might be lead to believe by
   watching video games, movies and the like.
   ^ It is typically not bloody or even visible. If you need a bloody
     crime scene try a knife. (Homicide Scenes Blog Link, Blood
     Spatter Blog Link)
   ^ The person does not blow backwards as if there was a bomb.
     They collapse if the bullet was well placed like a shot to the
   ^ Often the person who is experiencing adrenaline will not even
     realize they've been shot ( read about that under scar story at
     bottom of this interview Blog Link)
   ^ Multiple, well-placed shots must occur in order to down your
   ^ It will take several seconds for the impact of those shots to take
     effect. In those seconds the villain is still functioning and can
     still harm your heroine.
   ^ Your villain's physical response will be effected by drugs or
      alcohol use. (Illegal Drugs 101 - choosing a drug for your
      villain Blog Link)
     - was he wearing a bullet-proof vest and merely stunned?
     - is he faking the collapse so that he can get your heroine to
       lower her guard?
     - Have your heroine cover the guy with her gun, stay vigilant,
       and wait for the police. She shouldn't go up and frisk him - he
       may grab her, take her down, and take her weapon --or maybe
       that's what you want to happen next. Or maybe she's in a
       remote area with no hope of help. Now she has to make some
       darned hard choices.

* Knowing that an attack happens quickly, and your character
   needs to get her bullets in even more quickly, I shot my entire 
   extended cartridge (16 count) of bullets as fast as I could with 
   some semblance of hitting central mass. I knew I was being taped 
   and therefore could time it. 10 seconds and I was empty. I was 
   fortunate that I didn't have any malfunctions while firing those 

Brian Coates demonstrating a behind barrier strategy discussed in
Prt 2 of Dynamic Handguns. Fiona Quinn emptying her mag.

You were not a very benevolent author and decided that your heroine would not be attacked by one but several assailants all at once. What's your girl to do to save her skin?
* She should engage the most hazardous threat first. 
   Things which might inform her assessment include:
   ^ How close are the attackers to her and which is closest
   ^ What kinds of weapon are they wielding? 
   ^ How fast are the attackers coming at her?
      We know that the police with all of their training only have a
       20% impact rate. And we know that you can survive and act
       after being hit by a bullet. Since the guy with the machete is
       barreling towards her, she might chance the bullet hit to stop 
       the machete-swinger.
* How many bullets does she have? If your girl is unloading on
   thing-one, then thing-two ran round the corner, she's left with
   a not particularly useful empty gun
   Another strategy would be to try to put a
   bullet in each of the ogres and then assess. Was she successful?
   Yes? Call the police and wait. They're still attacking? Shoot
   another round into each and so forth.
* Remember, even the best of the best get tunnel vision and train
   strategies to prevent this from happening. While she has the ogre
   in her sights his troll partner could be sneaking up behind her and
   she'd never know he was swinging his club - lights out. 

Some of my articles you might want to review along with this information -

About guns:
Found on Facebook
Bullet Tutorial
Choosing a Handgun
Shotguns and Rifles
Shooter Simulation 
       (tunnel vision)
Carrying Concealed (interview)

About forethought/preparation:
Home Invasion - Hard v. Soft Target
Home Invasion - Setting Up a Safe Room & Creating an Escape Route

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 article was informed by the NRA Guide to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home (2000)
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.
Related articles

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shotguns and Rifles 101 for Writers


Home again after a fabulous time in Nottoway, Virginia where I spent time training at the Nottoway Wildlife Association. LINK Here, I met some of the most experienced, dedicated, kind, and encouraging teachers anyone could ask for.

Ed Rogerville, Range Master
NRA instructor

On my drive there, an ambulance raced up behind me. As it overtook me, another ambulance vaulted off of the ramp - lights flashing, sirens screaming. I was almost to my turn, and I started praying that they would not turn in front of me. My husband and son were already at the club, and I was suddenly afraid that an accident happened at the shooting range. But they barreled ahead, and I turned peacefully left. It was our first time at Nottoway Wildlife Association, and I need not have feared. They've been operating since the 1950's without a single incident. 

If your novel has a scene with your heroine at the range, you're going to need to know some basics about their rules. 
* No one, not even the instructors, walked around with a gun in
   their hand, unless it was their turn to shoot. 
* The guns were stored in a shed, or leaned on a rack. 
* Once it was the shooters turn, they were directed by the instructor
   to a specific place to stand. These were cement squares so there
   was no mistake.
* When the shooters were about to begin, there was a loud
    announcement  that the range was "hot" or "live"
* When someone needed to walk out into the range, all guns were
   put down and everyone stepped away from their firearm.
* Don't make the mistake of writing your experienced shooter
   taking short cuts with the rules. The most experienced shooters
   were the most meticulous about how they handled their firearms.
* The shooters and everyone in the immediate area wore eye and
   ear protection. Most of the people wore plastic ear protection that
   was inserted into the ear canal. I personally prefer to use
   headband style protection like the woman below (do not look at
   her hands and write that as your heroine's grip, it's wrong)

Indoor Shooting Range at Sarasota, Florida, US...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Safety First

* Assume that every weapon is loaded.
* Always point the weapon in a safe direction
   (up or down) to minimize property damage
   and protect everyone from injury.
* A finger is never put on the trigger or even
   inside of the trigger guard unless the target
   has been sighted and a decision has been
   made to shoot.

Shooting Stance

* The shooter is comfortable, and balanced
* The choice of which hand pulls the trigger is based on
   eye-dominance not handedness
* The legs are hip distance apart one foot slightly ahead of the the
* The body is aligned with the target
* The shooter rotates at the waist not with the legs
* Knees should be slightly bent
* Lean forward
* The butt of the stock goes against the shoulder
* The cheeks lays against the stock.
* One hand supports the barrel. Elbow points downward and the
   upper arm braces against the chest. 
* The trigger finger rests along side the trigger guard.

Video Quick Study (3:19) covers standing and prone as well as movement. Great info if you are writing a combat scene or your heroine is military trained.

Shotguns v. Rifles

*Authors please note * Ed Rogerville explained that the proper term is firearm. "We never refer to firearms as weapons. I realize this is a widely used term but we, as instructors, don't use it. We always use the term firearm. We're not teaching or coaching, especially kids, to use force. We're teaching them how to hit a target. I know it's kind of politically correct, but that's the term we prefer to use." 

Photograph of 12 gauge shotgun shell
12 gauge shotgun shell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

* Has a smooth barrel
* Uses shells - shells hold lead pellets the
   number reflecting the gauge tells the size of the
   pellets inside.
* Once the shotgun has been fired the pellets
   expand in a circumference, making hitting the
   target more likely than with a bullet.
* Devastating at close range for personal
   protection because of the number of holes it will put in
* Used for trap and skeet sport shooting.

 This is Ed loading up for trap shooting. The picture to the right is what the clays look like. Believe me, they look muuuuuch smaller when they're flying through the air.

* The shooter does not look down the barrel and sight the target.
   The shooters eyes are both open and focused on the target. 
   The gun follows the focus. Even after the trigger has been pulled
    the shooter should follow through by remaining focused on the
    target and moving the gun along the trajectory.
* Beginner issues include: hesitation, aiming, and stopping the
   movement after the trigger was pulled.
* Note that weather conditions like the strong winds we were
   experiencing will effect the shot.
* Don't assume that because your character is a hunter that they are
   a good shot. According to Darrell Garber, "As a general rule,
   hunters can't hit an elephant staked in the yard."

Darrell Garber and Fiona Quinn

   * The shotguns we were using had various weights. I asked
       Darrell why this would matter. He explained to me that it is
       simple physics. For every action there is an equal but opposite
       reaction.  If there is thirty pounds of energy coming back up,
       the shooter will feel more of the recoil with a four pound gun
       where a ten pound gun would absorb much of that energy.

Shooting range near Pittsburgh, PA.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Has a rifled barrel which means that it has
   spirals inside that rotates the bullet like a 
   football to make it fly straight.
* Uses bullets
* The higher the caliber the more recoil the
   shooter will experience. 
* I was shooting .22s and I found it much
   easier than my 9mm handgun because the
   sound and light were at a distance, much
   quieter, and there was almost nothing in the
   way of recoil.
*There are different kinds of rifles such as:
   `Single action
   `Bolt action
* Deadly to 500 yards

Darrell was kind enough to let me shoot his AR15. Yes, I should be leaning forward. This was my first time shooting an AR and frankly, I was afraid of the kick. But there was less than my 9mm. It was very smooth, and a whole lot of fun.

As a side note, If you are near Nottoway, Virginia, the Nottoway Shooting Sport at Nottoway Wildlife Association offers classes to non-members. They have a beginners class as well as personal protection in the home (That one my husband and I are signing up for) at very reasonable prices. So check them out. LINK

See this article in action in my novella: MINE

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.