A writer has to do what a writer has to do and sometimes that means research. My current work-in-progress is a police procedural. Since I know almost nothing about guns, I had to find out. This past Saturday I attended the 4-hour "Handgun Shooting Workshop for Mystery Writers" led by gun dealer, trainer, expert-witness Bruce Krell of Shooters-Edge, Inc. A couple of buddies joined me: TV-writer, playwright, novelist Matt Witten and actor, novelist Harley Jane Kozak.
The class was held at a private shooting range on Little Tujunga Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest. I mentioned the class to a law enforcement friend of mine. He asked me where the range was. I told him in the middle of nowhere. He rolled his eyes and said, "All gun ranges are in the middle of nowhere." Now I know what he meant.
|Matt helps Bruce set up the targets|
During the first part of the workshop, Bruce schooled us on the proper terminology of gun parts (it's a cartridge or a round that goes into a handgun, not a bullet), gun safety, the three types of handguns (revolver, semi-automatic and fully automatic) and how crime fiction writers often get it wrong, i.e., the "Law of Conservation of Momentum" (the mass of a human body is greater than that of a bullet...oops round) dictates that it's unlikely that anybody will fly backward when shot with a handgun as we often see on television).
Bruce was patient and encouraging with a ready sense of humor. He was also tough on us if we forgot something important, like keeping our finger off the trigger until we were ready to fire. When it was time to shoot, each of us was issued either a Glock 17 or a Glock 19. I shot with the 19. We loaded cartridges (rounds) into the magazine or mag, not the "clip." This was more difficult than I expected. The first 2 or 3 went in easily. Then it got harder.
|Harley demonstrates the proper way to hold a gun|
The closer we got to actually shooting, the more nervous I became. I had no idea how much of a recoil I'd experience and I worried about hurting somebody. I racked the slide. A round entered the chamber. There was no going back. I placed my finger on the trigger. When everyone in our group started firing off rounds, I struggled to concentrate. Even with ear protectors, it was loud. And we weren't the only people shooting. There were other groups on other ranges in the area. It sounded like a war zone.
After practicing for a while, Bruce changed the target and the scenario. We were to load six rounds into the magazines, insert the mags into our Glocks and when he gave the signal, we were to fire continuously at the target as if we were in a gunfight. (90% of semi-automatic guns eject cartridges to the right. Average: 125 degrees and 9 feet from the bore line).
|Harley, Matt and me|
|Matt and Harley check the results|
|My six rounds|
In the Q&A after the workshop, one of the participants asked about military weapons. As it turned out, Bruce had a sniper rifle in this SUV from a previous class. We were able to look and learn.
|Harley holding an $8,000 sniper rifle|
Here's what I learned from this exercise:
- I have some awesomely talented friends, but I knew that going in.
- More training is needed before I feel I know anything about handguns.
- Heavy gunfire is disorienting even when you know where it's coming from.
- Keeping your hands steady on a handgun in a stressful situation isn't easy.
Happy Monday and have a safe day!