Have You Heard About Airbows?

What is an airbow?

Debuting in early 2016, the Pioneer Airbow lived up to the hype as a “game changer.” (Image via Crosman)

TLDR: An airbow is like a crossbow that uses air pressure to fire a bolt.

Eat your heart out, Daryl Dixon.

New to the hunting scene as of early 2016, and therefore available to writerly imaginations everywhere as of right now, is the Pioneer Airbow from Crosman. It’s not quite a crossbow and it’s not quite a firearm. It’s an airbow, and it’s a category unto itself.

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Are Your Characters Following Proper Gun and Knife Safety?

Writing tips guns fiction

Characters placing their fingers on triggers well before they should is a safety violation common to movies. Here’s an example of a pistol being drawn from its holster correctly. Keep that finger off the trigger until it’s time to fire, please, or face the embarrassment of your dumb ass shooting yourself in your own dumb ass. (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: If a character is supposed to know something about firearms and knives, abide by common sense safety rules.

Not every character is or needs to be the embodiment of safe firearm and knife handling, but some should demonstrate a basic understanding in keeping their backgrounds. When this doesn’t happen, it’s a clear “tell” that something is wrong with the writer (in the weapons area, since it’s safe to assume writers wouldn’t be writing if there wasn’t something wrong with them in the first place).

Here are the basic safety principles accepted by the firearm and knife worlds.

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Heads Up: Your FBI Characters Will Now Carry Different Pistols

Best guns for FBI characters agents writing fiction

The FBI will switch from .40 caliber Glock pistols to 9mm Glock pistols. The rest of the country’s law enforcement agencies, which frequently use .40 caliber pistols, will likely follow suit. (Image via Wikipedia)

TLDR: If your story is set in late 2016 or beyond, depict FBI characters carrying 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistols instead of .40 caliber Glocks.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced a change to its standard issue semi-automatic pistols last month that could impact some works of fiction. The agency will switch over to 9mm Glock pistols, a departure from .40 caliber models standard since the late 1980s. Continue reading

Automatic vs. Semi-Automatic vs. Fully Automatic Firearms: What’s the Difference?

Writing tips automatic difference guns firearms

What’s the difference between fully automatic, semi-automatic and automatic firearms? And who left this pile of guns here? (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: When writing, clarify whether the gun in the story is “semi-automatic” or “fully automatic” upon first reference, then use “automatic” as shorthand. There is a functional difference that could affect the plot.

If learning about firearms feels like an exhausting exercise in vocabulary, thank you for reading this blog! That’s exactly what a lot of it is, but that doesn’t mean vocab is any less important. Plots hinge on characters using firearms. The words you use indicate functionality, which impacts what happens in the story. That goes double in the often conflated usage of “automatic” firearms.

Here’s how to get it right. Continue reading

Is It Possible to Shoot Out a Lock with a Gun?

movie trope locks guns doors shoot out myth

This is good time to remind you to not try anything at home. Leave the risk to professionals who are duly compensated for their poor choices. (Image by Paige Foster via sxc.hu)

TLDR: It’s possible, but it doesn’t work the way you think. 

Do me a favor. The next time you get the itch to write in a scene where the character “shoots out a lock,” go grab the firearm you keep in a hidden safe in the wall and a big, fat rock. Stand as close as you can to the rock, then aim at it and pull the trigger. (Or don’t. Please don’t.)

Does this sound like a good idea to you? Does the risk of catching a mouthful of shrapnel or a ricocheted bullet for no good reason sound appealing? Congratulations. You have excellent health insurance.

The rest of us plebs would probably pass, but that’s exactly what you’re putting your characters through when you use the “shooting out the locks” trope. Your characters may be fictional, but they deserve better. Continue reading