Sue Coletta is a crime author and writer bud of mine with a new book out this November worth your time, Marred. I’m interested in how Coletta approaches the weapons in her work, seeing as how she came up with a primer called 60 Ways to Murder Your Fictional Characters. What follows is her guest post on how she chose the firearms for one of her law enforcement characters, along with a terrific example of how to load and shoot a semi-automatic pistol. Enjoy!
Using Reality to Create Fiction
When Ben asked if I’d like to join him here at CrimeFictionBook.com to share which firearms I chose for my character, Sheriff Niko Quintano, I jumped at the chance. While researching what gun to use this was the first place I came.
During the final edits for Marred, Adam from Writer’s Detective, one of my favorite real-life detectives, guest posted here about The Best Handguns for Detectives in Fiction. After I read what weapons Adam used on the job, I knew I’d made the right decision for Niko.
The Selections: Sig Sauer P227 & Glock Model 27
I couldn’t give Niko a wimpy weapon, so I armed him with a Sig Sauer 99 mm (that refers to the barrel length, not the caliber, with the specific model being the P227 ~Ben), with a Glock 27 for his backup piece.
Read the Excerpt: How to Load and Accurately Shoot a Semi-Automatic Pistol
In the excerpt below, Niko is teaching his wife, Sage, how to shoot. Sage has never held a weapon before, never mind fired one. For the record, neither have I. This scene is the result of watching endless YouTube videos and dissecting the posts on CrimeFictionBook.com. Let’s see how I did. (Spoiler alert: It’s a great scene with a ton of information useful to other writers. ~Ben)
This particular scene is in Sage’s POV. Her and Niko have just arrived at the gun range and Niko has explained gun safety in detail, too much detail for his wife of 17 years. The Glock 27 is the one used in this excerpt.
“First, I’ll show you how to properly load a weapon. I usually keep a magazine loaded in the safe, but you should still know how. Here. Take the magazine in your hand and set the end on the countertop. Then take a bullet and push it down and to the rear, under these two ridges. These are called feed lips.”
To show I understood I nodded, even though vomiting would be a more accurate response to what I was feeling.
“Now you try.”
I loaded the first bullet the way Niko explained. Continuing in the same manner, I loaded the entire magazine and slid the end into the handle of the gun.
He stopped me. “Keep the weapon pointed down range. Hold the gun in your right hand and with your left insert the magazine—not clip as they say on TV— into the magazine well.”
And so I did.
“Good. Now, bang the bottom of the magazine to make sure it’s in there tight. Then take your left hand and, with your thumb facing you, pull the top slide toward you.”
I did as he instructed and a click sounded.
Before I had a chance to question why he explained, “What that did was to insert the top bullet into the chamber. Now, point the weapon at the target.”
As an avid fan of the series Castle, I locked my arms and aimed for the paper silhouette.
“Stop, stop, stop. Let’s back up here a minute. You need a proper stance. Put your feet square to the target, aligned with your shoulders. Put your major foot slightly forward for more balance and control. They call this the isosceles/modified stance. The name taken from the isosceles triangle. A triangle with two sides that are equal in length.”
“I know what a triangle is, Niko.”
“In shooting,” he continued, oblivious to my trivializing his instructions, “the isosceles is referring to the shooter’s arms, held straight making them the same length. Of course, you know that a slightly bent arm is better. Right?”
“Right.” Did he mention my arms? He was throwing so much information at me, I could barely keep up. Per his instructions, I got into a shooting position. “Good. Now arms. Don’t lock your elbows,” he said, not realizing that only seconds earlier he asked me about this. “Even a compact handgun has some recoil. What you want is a slight bend to your arms to absorb that recoil. Keep your shoulders square to the target. This allows your upper body to move a hundred and eighty degrees.” He helped me gain the proper stance. “Good. Now let’s talk about how you’re holding that weapon.”
I giggled. “Emulating Detective Beckett isn’t working, I take it?”
“Ah…no.” He took the Glock 27 from my hands. “See how I keep my index finger straight along the slide of the weapon, away from the trigger? You try.” He passed me the weapon. “Keeping that finger straight, wrap your other three fingers and thumb around the grip. Then take your left hand and wrap your fingers around your right, marrying your thumbs.”
With an eyebrow cocked I jeered, “Marrying my thumbs? Seriously?”
“Meaning—” he dipped his chin, pausing for effect— “both thumbs should be side-by-side. Not interlocked.”
I gripped the firearm the way he suggested. “Actually, that does feel better.”
“Because that’s the proper way to hold a weapon. Now, aim down range by looking through your front sight. That’s the sight closest to the muzzle end. Keep it evenly spaced with your rear sight and make sure it’s level at the top of the rear sight. The target will appear fuzzy. That’s normal.”
I took aim.
“Don’t shoot yet.”
Rather than tell him he was a pain in the ass, I sighed loud enough to make my point.
“After three shots, I want you to bring your elbows back to the sides of your ribcage. That’s called a low ready. You actually can fire in that position too, but until you learn to fire the regular way, I don’t recommend it. Ready?”
“Yes.” I almost added, “I’ve been ready for hours.”
“After you fire, set the target back in your front scope. You never know if your opponent will need more than one shot to knock ‘em down. So get used to aiming immediately after firing.”
Again, I took aim.
“And remember to breathe.”
“You stopped me to tell me to breathe? Isn’t that kind of a natural thing?”
“Not necessarily. When you’re defending yourself, you can’t concentrate on your breathing. Here at the range you can. Actually, during a gunfight it’s best to practice slow, deep breaths similar to the way you breathe in mediation.”
“Okay, fine. I get it.” I set the target in my front sight.
“Breathing is so important. Holding your breath will deprive your muscles of oxygen. It can cause you to lose focus, get shaky…a number of issues. So let’s avoid all of that by breathing. Okay?”
I’d had enough of these never-ending lessons. “Can I fire the damn gun already?”
“All right, all right. In one fluid motion, I want you to squeeze the trigger. Don’t hesitate or you’ll miss fire. Let the shot surprise you.”
I held my aim, waiting for him to give me the go-ahead.
“I’ve been ready.”
Find Out What Happens Next
About Sue Coletta
A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Sue Coletta has authored five novels. Her debut release, Marred, a dark psychological thriller, is slated for release November 11, 2015, with Tirgearr Publishing, an excerpt of which scored first placement in the upcoming anthology, Murder, USA. You can find out more about Sue and her books at: www.suecoletta.com.