With my sixteenth published mystery novel, Buried in a Book (written under the penname Lucy Arlington) coming out this February, I’ve killed lots and lots of people in print. They’ve been strangled, poisoned, electrocuted, stabbed, hung, drugged, pushed down stairs, drowned, etc.
What I’ve avoided thus far is death by gunshot. Why? Because I don’t know much about guns. True, I don’t know what it’s like to be choked to death either, but I can find an answer to most medical questions at our local hospital (my husband works there and most of the doctors are used to seeing me, notebook in hand, grilling a pathologist or cardiologist in order to get my facts straight).
Guns are trickier. They have calibers and specific ranges and particular bullets and grips and firing patterns. And I have no idea what they really feel like to hold or sound like when they’re being fired. Knowing Hollywood action films and TV cop shows, what I’ve seen on the big screen isn’t very accurate. One can research guns like any other subject, but I like to do firsthand research, so I called the closest shooting range and made an appointment for a private lesson. (Not for the Bullets and Beer event, however!)
My first impression was of the noise. Guns are loud, folks. The gunshots you hear on TV are muted. And a big gun, like a rifle, machine gun, or shotgun, is really loud. Even wearing headphones, I was surprised by how loud the guns I shot were.
Because the character in my upcoming pie shop series (written under the name Ellery Adams and due out in July) is going to start toting around a concealed weapon, I wanted to find the perfect handgun for her. Therefore, I fired several handguns to see which felt the most comfortable and I ended up picking the Colt .45 (the gun with the wood on its handle).
Turns out, I’m a decent shot. I killed that paper mugger but good (only missed him twice) but I was so horrible at loading the magazines for the Smith and Wesson M&P 9 and the Colt .45 that I would have been dead a thousand times over if speed was a requirement in a gunfight. The Smith and Wesson Model 60 was a revolver and easy to load, but I tended to jerk the trigger a bit when I fired and therefore shot my mugger in the gut instead of in the face or in the heart.
And speaking of hearts, mine was hammering throughout the whole lesson. The noise, the power of the bullet exploding from the gun, the shells flying through the air, the smoke rising to the rafters, the smell of gunpowder—it was all strange and new and both terrifying and exciting.
My instructor was amazing. He taught me loads about gun safety, maintenance, various weapons’ ranges, and shooting posture. He even gave me a run-down on different ammunition and which guns most women prefer. The guy was a font of gun wisdom.
Am I am expert now? Not by a long shot. (ha, ha) But am I going to know exactly how my heroine feels when she handles that Colt .45? You bet.
Have you ever fired a gun? Ever wanted to?