Why Would Someone Need to Aim a Shotgun?

writing shotguns in fiction tips

Isn’t this good enough? (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: Shotguns aren’t idiot-proof, and they’re only as accurate as the people/characters using them.

Shotguns are supposed to be the White Castle Crave Case of firearms: they’re a hit every time. (If you don’t like White Castle, pretend that you do.) It’s a matter of pointing the firearm in the general direction of the thing that needs to be shot, pulling the trigger and letting a flock of shot (aka BBs or the small, spherical projectiles fired out of shotguns) do the thinking for you. Right?

If you know this blog, you know the answer isn’t that clear cut. Shotguns firing shot (I’ll skip slugs for now) still need to be aimed. Here’s why. Continue reading

Will a Gun Go Off If It’s Dropped?

Just for the record: That's moss, not the carpeting in my house. (Shutterstock photo)

Just for the record: That’s moss, not the carpeting in my house. (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: Despite how it might benefit a fictional scene, it’s extremely rare for a gun to off accidentally, even when it’s dropped. It’s far more likely the “accident” is due to negligence.

Pictured: Life. (GIF via giphy)

Pictured: Life. (GIF via giphy)

I have great luck with my push lawnmower. It’s old, missing a few bolts and requires just the right touch to operate, but it gets the job done. If I’m lucky, it’ll start before pull number three. If it doesn’t, I know there’s a mechanical error. I might not know exactly where, but I follow a logical path to find it. Is there gas in the tank? Is the spark plug throwing a spark? Is the throttle adjusted correctly? Is there grass preventing the blade from spinning? Continue reading

Want to Spice Up That Character’s Shotgun? Try Bolo Shells

TLDR: Two metal balls + wire + shotgun x crazy = bolo ammunition

What is Bolo Shotgun Ammunition?

If you’re looking to change things up a bit with your character’s shotgun setup, you might try assigning him/her bolo ammunition. It’s buckshot’s rough and tumble cousin who’s on parole but can’t say no to a bar fight.

Continue reading

Shotguns Used by the U.S. Navy & Other Military Branches

(Image by Margan Zajdowicz via sxc.hu)

(Image by Margan Zajdowicz via sxc.hu)

I meet a ton of great people through my position at Gun Digest, and recently one of them happened to be a U.S. Navy veteran. Part of this person’s role involved using shotguns to breach rooms (note that he wasn’t a SEAL, or at least didn’t tell me he was). I’ll pass along the models this person used here.

This information may not apply to every manuscript out there, but I think it’s interesting anyway. The Navy isn’t all about ships, just like the Air Force isn’t exclusively the domain of aircraft.

Continue reading

What is a Riot Gun?

Riot? Check. Gun? Check. Does that mean there's a riot gun in this picture? Read on to find out. (punghi/Shutterstock)

Riot? Check. Gun? Check. Does that mean there’s a riot gun in this picture? Read on to find out. (punghi/Shutterstock)

TLDR: The term “riot gun” usually refers to a shotgun or rifle featuring either a shortened barrel or less-lethal ammunition, or both.

I had a great time last year presenting a webinar for The Writer’s Store called The Secret to Writing Firearms. (Pro tip: You can download it here, but I recommend you sign up for my newsletter first to get a code for 50% off.) One of the attendees popped a question to me during the presentation that might apply to your project: What is a riot gun?

Continue reading