Tag Archives: writng action

Handguns & Your Characters

Today we welcome firearms expert and instructor Kathleen Kuck to our blog.

Kathleen, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am an NRA instructor here in Tucson, AZ.  I teach all disciplines of the NRA with the exception of the muzzle loading…just haven’t had time to take them yet.  My husband and I co-instruct at the Southeast Regional Park Shooting Range for the Pima County Park and Rec.  We teach all the classes listed below and have included Women Only classes for all of these disciplines.

NRA Certified Pistol Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Certified Shotgun Instructor
NRA Certified Chief Range Safety Officer
NRA Certified Refuse To Be A Victim Instructor
NRA Certified Personal Protection Outside The Home Instructor
NRA Certified Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor
NRA Certified Home Firearms Safety Instructor
Carry Concealed Weapons Permit Instructor (CCW)

We are also Certified Fight Like A Girl & Girls on Guard Instructors (women’s self defense). Other experience includes 10 years volunteer with Probation Dept, 15 years volunteer with Sheriff Dept, Sheriff Reserve Academy, Police/Fire dispatcher & Sheriff Dept dispatcher

We have recently moved to Tucson area from California.  We are CCW instructors for AZ also.  We tried to come up with something we enjoy doing together now that we have an empty nest.  My husband is a retired Deputy Sheriff and I have been involved as a volunteer with probation and sheriff dept for many years as a hobby.  I am a retired secretary who raised 3 great kids and wanted a change in her life.  So my husband and I began shooting International Defensive Pistol Assoc. (IDPA) matches together as a fluke and loved it.  Starting taking NRA instructor classes and fell in love with it and here we are today teaching it.

My mother was attacked and fought off her attacker the best way she knew how.  She was injured and I have felt helpless over this because I wasn’t there to protect her.  Out of this came a desire to teach women to have the confidence they need to defend themselves.    I brought a program to my local community thru the Sheriff Dept years ago, but I always wanted to do more.   This is why I have chosen to learn many different ways to teach women to protect themselves.

1. What type of things should a writer consider when choosing a handgun for her character?
– If the character is a bad person then a .45 cal gun 1911 style perhaps in stainless for the shiny effect (Colt or Kimber model) would best fit.  Standard way to carry this style of gun is with the hammer back, and standard on the ammo for the magazine is 7 or 8 plus one in the chamber.  These caliber guns have a large barrel opening and can be very intimidating to someone looking at the business end of one.  When a gun is pointed at you the barrel no matter how small seems HUGE.  You get tunnel vision focusing on it.
-If the character is that of law enforcement then they would carry a 9mm gun (Glock).  This is a black gun, semi -automatic with a medium/large frame.  Standard ammo for this gun is 17 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber.
-If the character is that of a house wife reaching into night stand because of bad guy breaking in then you would probably use a .38 cal revolver stainless, nickel or black finish with a 3 inch barrel.  The standard on shots is 6 however you can get a Lady Smith with 5 shots.  They do go all the way up to 8, however that is not the most common.
-If the character is military they usually carry a 9 mm hand gun (Beretta).   The standard for ammo with this gun is 15 in the magazine with one in the chamber.  This is also a semi-automatic gun.
2. Is a certain type of gun more suited to a woman?
– I feel the gun more suited to a woman is the one that fits her hand and she should consider what is the gun’s purpose (home/self defense, shooting matches, etc).  Then look at the caliber. A .22 cal won’t kick and she will be more accurate than if she was shooting a .45 cal.  If she practices, this will help with her accuracy and she can try a larger caliber.  If you are going to use a gun for anything, you need to make sure you are comfortable in using it.  If your first time shooting it is in a stressful situation, it can be deadly to yourself if you are not familiar with it.  The bad guy will be very familiar with it, and can use it against you.

3. What are some pros and cons of the different ways to carry concealed?
-If you carry by using a gun purse, you need to be practicing using that gun purse and pulling your gun from it so much that it is second nature to you.  Walk around your home with it, pull it while doing chores, and get comfortable with it.  Due to the cumbersome way of getting the gun out of a gun purse, you need to be very smooth and quick if you need to pull it for defense.
-If you carry with a hip holster, you need to make sure it cannot be seen (unless that is the look you are going for, depending on what state you live in).  Practice in front of the mirror pulling it and making sure your clothing is covering it.  When you raise your arms or bend over, do your clothes still cover the gun?  Then practice pulling it, if clothing is in the way practice pulling the clothing out the way with one hand and drawing with the other.   Can you sit down without it sticking out?  Make sure every day the clothing you are wearing gives you the comfort you need to pull quickly and safely but the coverage you need for concealment.
-If you carry an inside the waistband holster, make sure you practice in front of a mirror and see what is needed to pull the gun.  Can you sit down comfortably?  Do your pants fit well enough to hold the gun, are you able to pull it quickly and safely?
-If you wear a fanny pack holster, while it is concealed, just about everyone knows what is in it.  So I would not recommend it.
– If you wear in an ankle holster.  Make sure your pants fit properly and are loose enough for you to grab the gun.   Then practice pulling from your ankle.  I have found they tend to fall down after awhile of wearing them and if you need to chase or run after your children it could fall down.  Some folks like them. I am not a fan.
– Bottom line is practice to any holster is key!  If you are familiar with your gun and your holster choice then your concealed way of carrying will be best for you to pull it quickly and safely.

4. What are the most common TV/Book errors when it comes to handguns?
-Giving women guns that are way beyond the caliber of what they can shoot accurately but look very impressive, because they are shiny or large caliber for the dramatic effect.
-When someone is shot and they fly through a window, this is not the case in real life.   There is not enough impact from the bullet to take the person off their feet through a window.
-When someone is shot they usually don’t fall right away.  With the exception of a head injury.

Thanks so much, Kathleen. You are an inspiration to us all.

Any questions for Kathleen?

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Writing The Fight Scene

A few weeks ago a writer friend asked me for some help with her fight scene.  She gave me her chapter, minus the fight, so I could get an idea of what was happening in the story.  The chapter was good, but I couldn’t help her with the scene just yet.  I needed more information.

To begin with, I had to know what she wanted to accomplish with the fight.  Did she want the hero to knock out the bad guy?  Maim him?  Kill him?  What are the hero’s and the villain’s experience and skill as fighters?  We’ve already learned from a previous post, Perfection of One’s Character, how important characterization is.  Therefore, knowing the Hero’s background is key.  A boxer fights differently than a karate man.  A karate man fights differently than a grappler.  A grappler fights differently from (insert your style of choice here).  Do the characters have police or military or combat training?  Know your characters!

I also wanted to know what kind of an exchange she wanted to have happen.  A quick exchange of a few blows or an all out brawl?  If she wanted to knock the guy out quietly, the hero might put the villain in a choke hold until he passes out.  If she wanted a lot of action and movement, then she could choreograph a fight scene with punches, blocks, kicks and throws.

Was there a weapon involved?  In this case there wasn’t, but remember in a fight anything can potentially become a weapon, even dirt in the eyes to blind the other guy, sticks, garden gnomes, you name it.  Just because there is no obvious weapon like a gun or knife doesn’t mean you can’t improvise one.  More on this in a future post.

What is the setting?  Is it day or night? Are they indoors or out?  What is the lighting?  The weather?  The terrain?  Take all these things into consideration when planning your scene.  If your characters are outside a home, they can throw each other into the side of the house, a tree, a car parked in the driveway, the rose bushes, a swing set.  This is your chance to create an exciting and unique fight scene.  Have fun with it.

Pay attention to the character’s distance from each other.  If they are further away, they might use kicks (See Melinda’s post on different types of kicks).  When in striking distance, they can punch and block and slug it out (See Melinda’s post on punches).  If they are in very close, they can uppercut under the chin, into the neck, into the solar plexus, or into the groin.  Maybe a character takes the other guy down and they start grappling (wrestling).  Arm bars, locks or chokes can be used either on the ground or standing.  The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

Just remember that a fight scene needs to be important to the story, not gratuitous.  The fighting must be within character and believable.  And if you aren’t sure something will work, get out of the chair, find a willing partner and experiment with your fight choreography together.

~KM Fawcett

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