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Make Your Characters Aim True and Shoot Straight by Jimmy Morris

Writers like to learn new stuff, and one of the things you might be interested in is guns, if you have a story where someone is using one (or more).  The first thing you need to know about guns is how to treat them – with respect.  Guns can be dangerous – and a lot depends on who is holding them – as well as how they are loaded, stored and kept.  So if you’re going to use a gun or guns in your story, you need to learn a little more about them.

There are lots of websites around that have gun information, NRA-related stuff all over, even magazines for gun lovers.  Guns can be used for protection, hunting, home defense, aggression – the list goes on.  So what does your character need to know to have and/or use a gun.  I don’t think you can ever learn everything you need to know about guns, but taking a workshop or two, even going out to a local range might be a good first step to discover how to write about guns.  Do you know the difference between a rifle, long gun, pistol and handgun?  Do you have an idea what type of gun you want your character to carry?

For example, if your character is law enforcement, they will probably carry a different gun than someone from the military or one of the ABC government agencies.  I’m bad about asking people who carry for a living (or for fun) what their favorite choice of weapon is, especially if it’s different from the one their agency/business wants them to carry.  That question starts a lot of great discussions.  It will also be important to know about firearm safety, how to load a gun, how to hold and aim a gun, how to take care of a gun before and after firing.  And you might want to check on gun laws in the geographic area your characters are in, because it does differ sometimes from state to state.  For example, most universities are gun-free zones; even if you have a concealed carry permit, you cannot bring a gun on campus.

Oh, and recoil.  Most guns recoil when you fire them, and it depends on the type and size of the gun and ammo as to how hard a recoil you get.  When I first started shooting, my cousin took me to an outdoor firing range and let me fire several of his guns.  I started with a black powder pistol, then a 1911 and moved on to an AR 15 and 318 rifle.  Each had a distinctive kick or recoil when fired, and I would ask him as I picked up each weapon how much recoil they had.  It went from “a little bit” to “hold on to your hat.”  When I finally got to the last gun, an impressively large .50 caliber sniper rifle, I looked over my shoulder at him and said “How much recoil with this one?”  Without even thinking about it, he said “All of it.”  He was right,  I’m pretty sure he thought it was going to knock me on my butt, but it didn’t.  I will admit my shoulder hurt for a few days afterwards.

If you want to know more about guns and how to use them in their writing, you can come join us at …

Jimmy Morris

Websites you might find helpful:

On June 13th, Jimmy’s workshop: Make your characters aim true and shoot straight starts. 

Workshop Blurb: If your character needs a gun, you need to know what they need and why. Jimmy will help you to learn what,

  1. Gun is “right” for the character and their purpose,
  2. Kind of ammo to use (and when they REALLY need to reload),
  3. How the gun works,
  4. Real damage by a gun.

Forget everything you’ve seen in the movie and learn how real guns should work and learn. Students are invited to submit a short scene for the instructor or the group for feedback.

[box type=”bio”]

My name is Jimmy Morris, and I’ve been a sniper, private investigator, cop, survivalist and lots of other things in my somewhat long career (not telling my ageJ). Back when I started out in these careers, you didn’t really have to have any formal education, although I was tapped out of college to join the military, where I learned a lot working in the (mostly) intelligence field. I’ve been all over the world and done things I’m not necessarily proud of, but I did it for my country and it brought me to where I am now in life. Been catching bad guys for 30 years and find new things every day. We never stop learning, and we never should.[/box]

RJ Garside is the wearer of many hats. She's the proud momma of three devilishly adorable little boys. Mature student extraordinaire. By day, she can ...