Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Intro to Handguns (From a Gal Who Knows Nothing about Handguns)

Ellery Adams

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?


Shel said...

Having been raised in Texas, it would probably be unusual if I hadn't fired a gun. I can generally hit what I aim at (what I was usually aiming at was soda cans) with a 22 pistol. But that's the only gun I've ever owned or fired.

Deb said...

I grew up with guns - hand, rifle, shotguns. Target practice is part of daily life in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, and most of my victims meet up with bullets. I was on an all-female panel and turned out to be the only one offing people that way. LOL. Oh, well.

Laura K. Curtis said...

My dad was a refugee who came to this country during WWII so as kids we were NEVER allowed to play with anything even vaguely resembling a gun. No water pistols, no pointing your finger and going "bang."

When I went into teaching, I *saw* a lot of guns confiscated from my students, but still never fired one.

However, I did go to a shooting class with my Sisters in Crime chapter where we learned all about guns, handled several types, and fired some. I did very well at it...but I didn't tell my dad.

Mare F said...

I have, although I need to practice. I've reached an age where the world around me alarms me and my response time isn't what it was. A revolver is a nice leveler.

Kathleen Ward said...

My sister was an animal control officer in California and had to qualify each year - she out shot the entire Sheriff's department and my Grandmother won many shooting awards. My son was planning to take me down to the range to teach me to shoot, but I broke my arm and developed some complications so we are waiting for my hand and arm to heal so I can have my first lesson. I'm looking forward to it.

Kristin A. said...

Sounds like quite the field trip! I have never shot or held, for that matter, any kind of gun that I can recall and you know what? I really don't want to.

Okay, have I been missing this all along or is this the first time you've announced that you are Lucy Arlington? It's hard keeping you ladies straight, that is for sure!

Ellery Adams said...


You haven't missed it. I've been keeping it under wraps while pimping the latest Books By the Bay so as to not confuse folks, but I recently let slip on Facebook so the cat's out of the bag now! I'm actually co-authoring this series with a dear friend, Sylvia May.

Dorothy Parker said...

You went from never using a gun to using a Colt 45? Look at you, big shot!

Ellery Adams said...

That was my fav, Dorothy! But I didn't feel like a big shot. I was all clammy and nervous.

Maggie Sefton said...

Ellery.....Yes, I've fired different guns...pistols & a range. And I included a funny scene with mt sleuth learning to shoot in Dying to Sell. :)

Maggie Sefton said...

Ellery.....Yes, I've fired different guns...pistols & a range. And I included a funny scene with mt sleuth learning to shoot in Dying to Sell. :)

Aurian said...

Great post Ellery, and congrats on your latest book! Yes, I have fired a rifle, in a contest in an office outing. We learned how to play golf, how to shoot clay pigeons, and how to shoot a card with a long range rifle. It was fun.

Lynn in Texas said...

Yes, I also grew up around all types of firearms. My dad & dh used to hunt ducks, dove and quail, so they gave me lessons and target practice with various types of guns.

Living in the country as I have for several decades now, I once had to shoot outside my front door to scare a bobcat away from trying to kill one of my kitties. The only living thing I ever shot was mistletoe (a parasite anyway) out of a tree for Christmas decorations! I do like target practice but haven't done it in years. Think spring may be a good time to shoot some cans again!

BTW, J/E, I guessed you were probably Lucy, because of your style of writing and the recipes!;)

Linda McDonald said...

Years ago I went to a gun range and fired small rifles or shotguns. I don't know what they were anymore, but it was definitely a learning experience. And yes, loud!!!
Sounds like you had fun on your research project. Looking forward to the new series.

Dru said...

Never fired a gun nor have I've seen one up close.