Michael Stephen Fuchs — whose rather good nov­els I have reviewed for Pulp.net and on this blog — has writ­ten an art­icle for the man­fully-named www.shotsmag.co.uk. He writes about the dif­fer­ence between British and American authors in their treat­ment of guns. In sum­mary, the Brits are less expert.

I’ve made my own, mod­est con­tri­bu­tion to this trend by bungling a descrip­tion of fire­arms not once but sev­er­al times in the ori­gin­al pub­lic­a­tion of Déjà vu. I described the cyl­in­der of a revolver as the bar­rel (hey, it’s some­what bar­rel-like!) and was very loose in my treat­ment of the term ‘fir­ing pin’. Fortunately, an American read­er poin­ted this out — in a genu­inely kind man­ner — and I’ve put it straight for sub­sequent ver­sions of the book.

Says Michael:

This cul­tur­al dif­fer­ence also res­ults in some very palp­able dif­fer­ences between writ­ing about guns and gun­play by British authors versus American authors. With American crime and action writers – if you know what to listen for, at any rate – it’s easy to get a sense that they are writ­ing from first-hand exper­i­ence. With Brits, it’s equi­val­ently easy to get a sense they are writ­ing straight from research. This is because, gen­er­ally, at some point in the book, the British writer will let slip one small but enorm­ously glar­ing boner about the makeup or oper­a­tions of fire­arms. When this hap­pens, it’s like get­ting a brief glimpse around the edge of the card­board build­ing facade in a Hollywood set: noth­ing else has changed, all the oth­er details are still right. But, sud­denly, the whole thing just looks irre­triev­ably fake.

I’ll get m’coat.

Hell, I am bust­ing to fire a pro­jectile weapon. I want to know how much it stings one’s palm; what it smells like; how loud it is; does it make that PEEEEOW(OW)(ow) sound lib­er­ally employed on the foley track for The Professionals? I also wouldn’t mind hit­ting some­thing, as long as it’s made of clay.

I won­der if Michael has any in his cup­board.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

6 thoughts on “Pull!”

  1. Any time you’re over in my neck of the woods, my gun-own­ing broth­er in law has threatened to take me to a shoot­ing range, so tag along!

  2. Shooting is so much fun. It’s almost like tak­ing a photo — hold your breath, squeeze. Frighteningly easy. I’m slightly deaf in my right ear, and I swear it’s from the noise of fir­ing blanks while on patrol with no hear­ing pro­tec­tion. It’s an intense, per­cuss­ive snap — I can’t think how to describe it. (bad writer! bad writer!!!) On the range you wear earplugs, but out play­ing sol­diers, you don’t.

    The feel depends on the weapon. I’ve only fired a pis­tol once, and I can’t remem­ber what sort it was. I remem­ber being shocked by how much it kicked up. It’s such a small, insub­stan­tial thing and you can point it any which-way so eas­ily… so deadly!

    The rifle, by con­trast, feels like a part of your arm. It sits com­fort­ably in your shoulder and just gives a friendly little punch back into your body. The dif­fer­ence between a single shot and a burst is just the subtlest of pres­sure on the trig­ger.

    I had a go on a Minimi once. Sprayed rounds all over the place — it was like try­ing to hang onto a really p-d off tom­cat. I guess I was hav­ing a bit of a girly moment and didn’t get agress­ive enough with it.

  3. F89 LMG (light machine gun). 5.56.

    Machine guns weigh a ton — I can’t remem­ber if it was the Mag 58 or an M60 that we used to lug around — I’ve had a (brief) turn car­ry­ing the damn thing and car­ry­ing the rounds for it (also weigh a ton) though I didn’t fire it. Definitely a man’s weapon, I think!

    You should def­in­itely try to arrange some time at a range. Shooting is the one thing I miss about the army. Of course, for me it was strictly ‘play­ing sol­diers’ — shoot­ing on a range or on exer­cise with blanks — I don’t have any exper­i­ence of shoot­ing or being shot at for real. Which is a good thing.

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