Not so long ago I wrote a piece called Stab Stab Stabby Stab, which was a brief guide to stab wounds.
This is a brief guide to gunshot wounds.
There will probably be blood involved.
Gunshot wounds occur when someone is, you guessed it, shot. Usually if you aren’t in a war, the reasons for guns being shot would be criminals, cops, suicides and accidents.
Guns are not all alike. Personally, I don’t have a lot of experience with guns, and by that, I mean I don’t have any.
However usually, people shoot their characters for a bit of drama. They don’t usually shoot to kill. That means you should carefully consider what you’re going to shoot them with.
First of all, here are some words you might not know the meaning of.
Caliber - the caliber is the internal diameter of a gun barrel. This also indicates the diameter of what it shoots.
Bore - this is the inside of a gun barrel, which a bullet travels along. In a rifled barrel, which means that the bore has grooves cut into it, a bullet will gain spin from these grooves. In a smoothbore, there is no rifling. Most handguns and rifles have rifled bores, most shotguns have smooth.
Gauge - this refers to the size of a shotgun bore. It refers to the number of lead balls of that size that it takes to make a pound. A twenty gauge shotgun takes twenty to the pound, a twelve gauge takes twelve balls to the pound.
Safety - This is the cutoff device that keeps you from shooting yourself in the foot by accident. Once the safety is off, then you actually could shoot yourself in the foot.
Magazine - A magazine is a container which holds one or more rounds of ammunition in a firearm when this ammo is not in the position for firing. A magazine can be built into the gun or removable. Removable ones are often called clips. That’s wrong.
Now onto the fun stuff.
Injuries from a gun are only likely to be fatal when they result from organ damage, infection, or blood loss, all of which are fully possible. As it is with the stabbing, it all depends on the impact zone. Major organs generally are well supplied with blood and it can be difficult to stop bleeding. Bullet wounds to the face and head can be survived, despite popular belief, however they are likely to result in disfigurement and/or cognitive damage.
Entrance vs. Exit Wounds
Sometimes the entrance and exit wounds to a gunshot wound can be clean, meaning the bullet went right on through, causing no more than superficial damage. The entrance wound of a bullet is usually smaller and fairly symmetrical in comparison to an exit wound, which can be big, ragged and messed up with skin, tissue, muscle and bone damage. Gunshot exit wounds are often bigger because the bullet has slowed done, meaning it’s harder to keep pushing through.The size of the wounds depends on the caliber of the bullet and the proximity of the shooter.
Bullets leave marks other than holes in your body. Entrance wounds are often ringed with the residue of two substances - gunpowder and cordite, both of which are contained within a bullet. A close range gunshot, say if the weapon is touching your body, will normally leave an ‘abrasion ring’ and a clear imprint of the gun barrel.
Like stabbing, the amount you bleed varies on how close the wound is to the heart. Bleeding is usually a good choice when you want to cause drama by shooting your character, but not necessarily kill them. It doesn’t lead to long term injury or even extended recovery time, however, this isn’t always what happens. If blood loss is severe enough, then organs - like your brain - will be damaged by loss of oxygen.
Best and Worse Places to be Shot
If you want to die, get shot in the liver. Or stomach. Anywhere in that region, really. Bullets can do damage, and one thing you don’t want damaged is your stomach. Things leak. You get blood poisoning. You die. The same is true for lungs . Your lungs will fill up with blood, and you suffocate.
Yeah. Not cool.
On the other hand, getting shot in a really meaty place, like the inside of your thigh or even an arm, will hurt like a bitch, but you’ll probably live. If a bone gets hit, it might cause permanent damage, but at least you won’t be dead.
How many times have you watched a cop show, seen a character be shot, lie there for a minute with eyes shut, looking dead, their partner/lover/both having a good old meltdown, and then they open their eyes and breathe, “I was wearing *gasp* a vest.”
And they live.
Body armor is kind of overstated. For one thing, not everyone can get their hands on a bulletproof vest. And although it can protect against low caliber ammunition - remember, that’s smaller bullets, folks (I think) - it has limited protection when it comes to higher caliber shots, it is pretty much useless against things like a rifle.
In conclusion, and a final note, do some research before you start firing fictional bullets. People have survived seemingly fatal shots with no ill-effects, and others have died when it looked like they’d be fine. And forget about leaping for cover in a shoot-off, if a bullet doesn’t hit a person, it’ll hit someone else, and there’ll be glass and shit flying everywhere. You could get injured without being shot.
Bonus: A Bow and Arrow is Fairly Harmless, Right?
Wrong, bitches. I can’t stress this enough. I actually am an archer, and I have met so many people who think that a bow and arrow is a dinky little Robin Hood thing. This was the original firearm, people. It’s an Olympic Sport. Have you ever seen a compound bow? Do you know how much strength it takes to pull one of these things back? Can you imagine how much force an arrow is flying with? Oh sure, it’s not a machine gun, but do you really wanna get shot with one? An arrow shot from one of those things can go straight through you, and you idiots wanna play chicken with it?
Don’t be a moron. And don’t underestimate a bow.