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Speed of sound

Switch Blayde

My research shows the speed of sound to be about 1,000 feet/second.
And the speed of light about 5,000 feet/second.
So the delay in hearing a gunshot from a mile away (5,000 ft) would be 5 seconds.

I want a sniper, but not a mile away. I want the delay from when the bullet enters the head and when the shot is heard.

So if the sniper is 2,000 feet away, would that be a 2 second delay?
And is it reasonable for the sniper to shoot someone in the head from 2,000 feet away?

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

And is it reasonable for the sniper to shoot someone in the head from 2,000 feet away?

Generally, I'd say shooting someone in the head is rather unreasonable. Anyhow, your math looks fine to me. No idea if it's of any importance, but the impact of the shot can be heard immediately, of course.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

And the speed of light about 5,000 feet/second.


No, it's 9.836e+8 feet per second. But surely you need the speed of the bullet, not the speed of light. Would that be about 5,000 feet/second?

A sniper has killed a terrorist from over two miles away. 2000ft should be eminently doable.

If the sniper were 2000ft away, the sound would take about 2 seconds to reach the target and, at 5000ft/sec, the bullet would take 2/5 seconds. The delay between the hit and the sound would depend on the position of the observer, but standing next to the victim it would be 1.6 seconds.

I can't believe I'm contributing to a gun porn question ;

AJ

Switch Blayde

@robberhands

if it's of any importance, but the impact of the shot can be heard immediately, of course


What does that mean?

Replies:   robberhands
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

No, it's 9.836e+8 feet per second.


I don't know what that means. I found something that said if the thunder is 5 seconds after the lightening flash, the storm is a mile away. So the delay is 5 seconds at around 5,000 feet. To me that's about 1 second per 1,000 feet.

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

And the speed of light about 5,000 feet/second.

You mean the speed of a sniper's bullet, not the speed of light.

The distance would need to be 2,500 feet, so the bullet takes 0.5 seconds to arrive and the sound 2.5 seconds.

According to Google, until recently the longest recorded kill shot was only three times as far. A head shot seems possible but I can't imagine why anyone would not aim for the body from that range.

robberhands

@Switch Blayde

What does that mean?

It means although the sound of the gunshot arrives on the scene with a delay, the sound of the impact can be heard by those around immediately, which would alarm them of a shooter. As I said, I don't know whether that's important for your scene.

Replies:   garymrssn
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

So if the sniper is 2,000 feet away, would that be a 2 second delay?

No.

You haven't considered the speed of the bullet. From 2,000 feet, the bullet would take about 1 second to arrive and the sound about 2 seconds.

robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

No, it's 9.836e+8 feet per second. But surely you need the speed of the bullet, not the speed of light. Would that be about 5,000 feet/second?

No, SB's math is roughly correct. The speed of sound is 1,087 ft/s. The speed of light is as you pointed out, also correctly, 9.836e+8 feet per second. The result is, at a distance of 2000 ft the delay between the moment you can see the impact of the shot and the sound of the gunshot arriving on the scene is indeed roundabout 2 seconds.

garymrssn

@robberhands

What does that mean?

It means although the sound of the gunshot arrives on the scene with a delay, the sound of the impact can be heard by those around immediately, which would alarm them of a shooter. As I said, I don't know whether that's important for your scene.


Don't forget the sonic boom of the bullet. Observers close to the target will hear the impact, the sonic boom and the rifle report in that order.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

From 2,000 feet, the bullet would take about 1 second to arrive and the sound about 2 seconds.

Good point! I stand corrected.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

The time from 2,000 feet would be a touch under 2 seconds. A head shot from 2,000 feet would be very difficult unless the target is sitting still or lying down, and virtually impossible if they're moving about.

If the person is suspected of wearing body armour the best bet would be to go with .50 cal rifle using a Mk 211 round which has an explosive charge as well as being armour piercing. That way a hit in the upper chest will have the explosive round ripping their head off if the body armour stops the round from tearing their chest to shreds.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

If the person is suspected of wearing body armour the best bet would be to go with .50 cal rifle using a Mk 211 round which has an explosive charge as well as being armour piercing.

Now that's what I'd call 'gun porn'.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

Now that's what I'd call 'gun porn'.


Nah, it's a surefire blow 'em away bullet.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Nah, it's a surefire blow 'em away bullet.

An XM777 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer, shooting M795 HE rounds, would be 'a surefire blow 'em away bullet'.

That's almost as much fun as thinking about how to please my editor with a scene involving a tussy-mussy.

Replies:   Harold Wilson
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

You haven't considered the speed of the bullet.


You're right. My bullet would have had to travel the speed of light.

What I'm after is people seeing a guy's head snap back and then blood shooting out the back of the skull. AND THEN they'd hear the BANG. For impact (pun not intended).

I thought I'd demonstrate the protagonist's skills by knowing about how far away the sniper was.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@Switch Blayde

I don't know what that means.


I don't know why you posted the speed of light in your OP, but the speed of light is around 670,616,629 mph, which converts to about 983,571,055 feet per second.

Awnlee's 9.836e+8 feet per second uses exponential notation. e+8 means multiply by 10 to the eight power gives you - 9.836e X 100,000,000 = 983,600,000 feet per second

REP

@Switch Blayde

My bullet would have had to travel the speed of light.


Bullets don't travel at the speed of light. Comparatively speaking the bullet is barely moving.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

Bullets don't travel at the speed of light.


I know. I didn't take the speed of the bullet into account.

I was thinking of a baseball outfielder seeing the ball hit the bat before hearing it (light travels faster than sound). I was after that.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Switch, only you want to know what you're trying to say in the scene, but here's some statistics that may help you:

When someone fires a rifle the flash will be seen before anything else unless there is one hell of a flash suppressor that means there is no flash - an unlikely situation for anything except a rail gun.

The speed of sound is 1,087 feet per second

Most high velocity rifles fire rounds at speeds faster than that so the bullet arrives before the sound of the gunshot does. Bullets do lose velocity over distance, but you really have to get way out there for it to be worth trying to measure it.

The Barrett M98B fires a.338 Lapua Magnum round at a muzzle velocity of 3,100 feet per second which is not quite 3 times the speed of sound

The Barrett M80 fires a .50 cal at 2,799 feet per second with an effective range of closed to 2,000 yards or 6,000 feet.

There's also a Barrett M80 in .416 caliber that has a velocity of 3,150 feet per second and an effective range similar to the M80 .50 cal.

There's also a sniper rifle round called a .408 Chey Tac that gets up to 3,500 feet per second.

So, as you can see there are plenty of rounds where the bullet will arrive well before the sound of the gunshot, but after the flash of the shot if anyone is looking that way.

Snipers rarely go for head shots because they're so damned hard to make, too many things can result in a miss.

Another thing to keep in mind is the impact energy of the round. The heavy the round the more energy it hits with. A .50 cal hits with around 3 times the energy of the .338 Lapua, so a .50 is going to knock the target down regardless of what else it does.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
REP

@Switch Blayde

I want the delay from when the bullet enters the head and when the shot is heard.


Your factors would be the speed of sound and the speed of the bullet, just compute the travel time of the two and the difference. Remember, if the bullet speed is subsonic, the sound will get there before the bullet.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I want the delay from when the bullet enters the head and when the shot is heard.


For that result you can shoot them with almost anything, because even a .22 long rifle is supersonic at between 1,200 to 1,750 feet per second.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

Thanks, that's very helpful. I don't want to see the flash. I want the first indication of a shot being fired to be the impact. I wanted a head shot because I just didn't want the man to drop. I wanted more.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Switch Blayde

@REP

Remember, if the bullet speed is subsonic, the sound will get there before the bullet.


That's the opposite of what I want. I didn't think of that.

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I just didn't want the man to drop. I wanted more.


hit anyone in the upper body with any of the high velocity sniper rifle rounds and they'll fly in the direction of the round like someone just hit them with a sledge hammer, which is a good analogy of what such an impact is like. there is no way anyone hit in the upper chest by a .338 or .50 will just drop, they'll be slammed backwards.

As to the rifle flash, anyone looking directly at it should see it, but if the shooter is positioned right they'll be almost impossible to see except by the target. That's why assassins tend to shoot down at their targets, it puts the rifle well above the target's eyesight level so they can't see the flash. A rifle fired with the barrel stuck out a window like you see in the western movies can be seen from anywhere but behind the window, pull back to fire from two feet inside the room and only those directly in front of the rifle can see the flash if looking at that height.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

I remember in a movie ("Joe Kidd" I think) the guy looked down at his bleeding chest and then heard the gunshot. I got it backwards. Good thing I brought it up here.

Thanks, everyone.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
JohnBobMead

This.

This is what the Author Forum is all about!

A true pleasure watching all of you work together this way, taking the initial request, refining it to determine what was really being sought, and then drawing upon your various areas of expertise to provide the information needed.

As a professional Librarian, I salute all of you for a job well done!

Switch Blayde

@Switch Blayde

I remember in a movie ("Joe Kidd" I think) the guy looked down at his bleeding chest and then heard the gunshot. I got it backwards.


Actually, I didn't get it backwards. It's not the speed of light vs the speed of sound, though. It's the fact the bullet travels faster than the speed of sound. So you'd see the guy's head explode AND THEN hear the gunshot.

That's what I was after.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

So you'd see the guy's head explode AND THEN hear the gunshot.


At the risk of repeating myself, where is your protagonist? If he/she/it is near the victim, that assertion is true. If he/she/it is near the sniper, it's not true.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

y research shows the speed of sound to be about 1,000 feet/second.
And the speed of light about 5,000 feet/second.


The speed of sound is 1125.33 feet per second at sea level. (Note, this will change with air pressure. or density in a non gas medium. I don't recall if it's faster or slower at higher densities.)

The fastest rifle rounds, are in the range of 3600 feet per second to 4200 feet per second.

There are plenty of subsonic rifle rounds, nearly all pistol rounds are subsonic, and a rifled slug from a shot gun would probably come in the slowest of all.

The speed of light is 186,282 Miles/second.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


And is it reasonable for the sniper to shoot someone in the head from 2,000 feet away?


Head shot at 2000 feet? I depends on what gear the sniper is using.

A modern military grade sniper rifle and scope? I'd say yes.

A typical hunting rifle using iron sights, no.

Civilian grade rifle scopes vary considerably in quality, magnification and price.

The longest confirmed sniper kill on record currently stands at 3540 meters, around 2.2 miles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest_recorded_sniper_kills

REP

@Switch Blayde

Not to argue the point, but a slower moving bullet has slightly more time to expand as it passes through the head - not much but a little. In theory, the additional expansion would carry a bit more blood and brain matter with it when it exits the skull.

A subsonic bullet has several problems. The sound of the shot will precede the bullet and might cause the target to flinch resulting in a miss. A crosswind has more time to affect the bullet's path. Gravity has more time to affect the bullet so you have to aim higher and if there is something above a flat trajectory, the subsonic bullet might hit it.

If I were a sniper, I would select a round that had the highest muzzle velocity. The trajectory would be flatter and there would be less time for a crosswind to effect the bullet's path. Then I would select a rifle for the round.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

At the risk of repeating myself, where is your protagonist? If he/she/it is near the victim, that assertion is true. If he/she/it is near the sniper, it's not true.


Near the victim. I'm trying to come up with a plot for a new novel and this scene popped into my head as an opening scene. Let's say the victim is on a platform giving a speech and the protagonist (Lincoln Steele) is in the audience listening.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

A rifle fired with the barrel stuck out a window like you see in the western movies can be seen from anywhere but behind the window, pull back to fire from two feet inside the room and only those directly in front of the rifle can see the flash if looking at that height.


True, but in a broad daylight fire fight at relatively short ranges such as what you would see happen in a town in a western movie, the muzzle flash doesn't matter as much and sticking the muzzle out the window gives you a much broader field of fire vs firing with the muzzle two feet inside the window.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

True, but in a broad daylight fire fight at relatively short ranges such as what you would see happen in a town in a western movie, the muzzle flash doesn't matter as much and sticking the muzzle out the window gives you a much broader field of fire vs firing with the muzzle two feet inside the window.


true, but what i speaking of was the reasoning behind where an assassin would set up. Mind you, I've not seen a western movie where the have gun flashes from the guns, just smoke.

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Thanks.

If the bullet travels at 4000 ft/sec and sound travels at 1000 ft/sec, then for every three quarters of a second of lag between head exploding and gunshot sounding, the sniper is 1000 ft away. At 2000 ft away, the lag would be 1.5 seconds. IMO that's a very short time to be able to measure accurately using unenhanced senses.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I've not seen a western movie where the have gun flashes from the guns, just smoke.


Black powder produces much more smoke and less muzzle flash than modern smokeless gunpowder. In daylight with a black powder cartridge rifle, you shouldn't be able to see a muzzle flash unless the shooter is using custom over charged rounds, in which case, you will see a spurt of red flame as the powder is still burning as it leaves the muzzle.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I can't believe I'm contributing to a gun porn question ;

Technically, in my book at least, it's only gun porn when the story focuses on the guns themselves. As long as the questions remain on the central plot elements, you're in the clear (porn-wise, at least).

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

A head shot seems possible but I can't imagine why anyone would not aim for the body from that range.

Alas, head shots are much for dramatic, as any TV show ever recorded clearly demonstrates.

Still, literature can generally get away with the overly dramatic (and unrealistic) by focusing on the more humain (ex. the effects on those surrounding the person killed). In a first draft, you go for the movie effects, during the revision you go for the more realistic effects, when you have time to refocus on the effects of on the people involved.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I thought I'd demonstrate the protagonist's skills by knowing about how far away the sniper was.

That kind of insight only comes from reflection (i.e. when they have time to consider what happened). However, at the time of the shooting, you shouldn't be concerned with the protagonist 'figuring things out', he (or she) should only be reacting.

Have him respond to the sounds of the impact and the visual effects on the body, then hearing the sonic boom, then the gunshot. He can do the mater later. That way, you're not 'telling' the reader what happened, but letting the events dictate the story and have the characters responding to the actions (rather than your plot points).

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

IMO that's a very short time to be able to measure accurately using unenhanced senses.


Lincoln Steele is extraordinary. LOL Like Rambo but more so.

I don't think he'll say, "The sniper's 2,000 feet away." If he says something, it will be more like, "He's a long way off."

But as I said, it's the impact I'm going for. I have no idea what the scene will be — if I'll even write it — but I was going for the unexpected head going back and blood coming out the back. Then the BANG.

Also, because Steele has reflexes like no one else on the planet, I want him to react before anyone — before the BANG.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

A head shot seems possible but I can't imagine why anyone would not aim for the body from that range.


A lot depends on range, and the specific rifle round.

Yes, the torso in general is easier to hit than the head.

However, given modern medical treatment, even a lung shot won't necessarily be fatal if first aid is applied and the victim can be gotten to a hospital fast enough.

So with a relatively small round or a non-expanding round designed for penetration on hard targets, to be certain of a kill, you have to hit the heart (or at least close enough for it to be impacted by the shock wave) or the head. Of the two the head is the larger target.

Another issue is body armor. Helmets tend to be less well armored than body armor, and modern military helmets don't protect the whole head anyway. If the target is wearing body armor and you don't have a round with high penetration, again the head can be a better target.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl  REP
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Have him respond to the sounds of the impact and the visual effects on the body, then hearing the sonic boom, then the gunshot. He can do the mater later.


Yeah, that's what I just said in a reply to awnlee.

StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

However, given modern medical treatment, even a lung shot won't necessarily be fatal if first aid is applied and the victim can be gotten to a hospital fast enough.

So with a relatively small round or a non-expanding round designed for penetration on hard targets, to be certain of a kill, you have to hit the heart (or at least close enough for it to be impacted by the shock wave) or the head. Of the two the head is the larger target.


That's why you hit someone with a Barbie gun round (5.56 mm) you typically are going to wound them. You're looking at muzzle energy of 1,300 ft/lbs, about 1,700 Joules. So you shoot them at 500 feet in the chest with one, it's going to make a hole, but since a sucking chest wound is just mother nature's way of telling you to slow down, it's survivable. (And I can put all 30 rounds from my AR within a 3" circle firing semi-automatic at 200 yards - 600 feet, so that's something easily done, albeit not under rapid fire conditions. One round every 4 seconds or so, for aiming.)

Having said that ... the whole point of this thread is using a sniper round. So as Ernest pointed out, let's assume the sniper is using an M-80 firing .50 cal.

The Barrett M80 fires a .50 cal at 2,799 feet per second with an effective range of closed to 2,000 yards or 6,000 feet.


You're firing a standard Federal American Eagle 660 grain round through a Barrett M99. Muzzle energy of that round is 13,000 ft lbs, 17,000 Joules. So you hit someone with one of those at 2,000 feet in the chest. You don't have to hit him in the heart - the energy transfer from his lungs exploding will blow his heart up. Or just shove his spine out his back.

A head shot would probably make his skull explode, but center of mass is still going to send pieces flying. That's why you can use a .50 cal round, shoot the engine block of a running vehicle, and disable it. Which also sort of makes body armor a moot point as well - it'll go right THROUGH the body armor.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@StarFleet Carl

You're firing a standard Federal American Eagle 660 grain round through a Barrett M99.


The US military sniper programs mostly use the Barret M82 (either A1 or A3) and the three longest kills by the US were made with that weapon, using either .50 BMG or Raufoss NM140 MP .50 (this is an exploding anti-material round)

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play


A head shot seems possible but I can't imagine why anyone would not aim for the body from that range.


Who said he was aiming for the head. Maybe he was aiming for the chest and the bullet sailed higher than he intended.

I remember a western movie where a guy shot a man off a horse from a great distance. The boy next to him said, "Wow! That was a great shot." He replied, "I was aiming for the horse."

ETA: I think it was the original "The Magnificent Seven" movie. The young Mexican character said in awe, "That was the best shot I ever saw." The James Colburn character said, "It was awful. I was aiming for the horse."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Who said he was aiming for the head. Maybe he was aiming for the chest and the bullet sailed higher than he intended.

Good point. I thought about this, and it was only after I'd gone to bed that the ideas gelled. While a gunshot to the head is Movie dramatic, a miss is more Literary dramatic, as it stretches the action out, allowing more reactions shots.

Imagine this: while speaking (you'll need to include part of the speech) the speaker starts waving his arms, turning to encourage the crowd to participate, when he's suddenly thrown back. Everyone just freezes in place, dumbstruck, and then the gunshot reaches them, causing everyone to duck and glance around, trying to figure out where the danger is.

At this point, your character can start reasuring people: "The shot came from the northwest, and he's not firing randomly, this is a trained sniper." That clearly identifies him as an expect, and the 'go to person' for the rest of the crisis.

But the best part of a miss, is the shooter will then need to fire again, at which point the panic sets in, and people start running everywhere, making it difficult to respond. At that point your MC starts issuing orders, telling people the best places to hide and where not to run. As they begin to listen, he finally can run to help.

Since the speaker would have been knocked down, he'd presumably be a harder target, possibly shielded by various objects, so the shooter would then have to fire shot after shot. And with each shot, more people panic and bolt, furthering the confusion.

That also makes rendering ... problematic when they're an active shooter firing at you. Any nearby bodyguards or police, when encountering the MC can shorting your background. "Your a vet?" "Yeah, Afghanistan, two tours." "Well, we'll glad to have your expertise. Now what should we do?"

They then struggle to drag him to safety before he's killed, ramping up the tension. If one of the rescuers ends up getting hurt, or killed, it reinforces the tension, as well as raising the stakes in the investigation, as it goes from a simple assassination attempt to a 'Mass Shooting', meaning EVERYONE in the city will want to track down the shooter, and his 'rescue' gives him credibility with the authorities.

Best of all, if the intended target IS killed, it doesn't take anything away from the story. The MC can perform emergency treatment, trying to save him while still under fire (since the EMTs aren't likely to brave open gunfire). As he's performing aid, he can shout instructions to any nearby cops, since they're unlikely prepared for active sniper events, which sets up the search for the shooter, which takes place while the MC is still being debriefed (and obviously they don't find him, despite he's presence being compromised by his taking repeated shots).

By stretching the scene out like that, you can bring in a range of new characters (people who helped, people who volunteered, people who hid and then pretended to be brave afterwards, and those who provided idiotic advice who helped no one), establish the MC's bona fides with short-answer background information, and give him semi-automatic credibility. Throw in a pithy death-bed confession by the victim, which the MC is tasked with delivering to his family, and you've got emotional drama dripping all over your pages! That's much more effective than a simple 'one shot and done' gore scene. Imagine him being interviewed back at police headquarters, still wiping the blood off his hands as they're bringing him coffee and thanking him for saving their fellow servicemen.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Imagine this: while speaking (you'll need to include part of the speech) the speaker starts waving his arms, turning to encourage the crowd to participate, when he's suddenly thrown back. Everyone just freezes in place, dumbstruck, and then the gunshot reaches them, causing everyone to duck and glance around, trying to figure out where the danger is.

At this point, your character can start reasuring people: "The shot came from the northwest, and he's not firing randomly, this is a trained sniper.


Trained sniper does not exclude mass shooter randomly selecting targets.

The MC can perform emergency treatment, trying to save him while still under fire (since the EMTs aren't likely to brave open gunfire).


A military trained sniper turned assassin/hit man with a singular target is most likely going to pack up and leave after confirming a good hit. He will not stick around and risk police cutting off his escape route.

A military trained sniper turned mass shooter, isn't going to take pot shots at the MC attempting to give aid to victim 1. In this scenario, either the MC is dead or the sniper will target other bystanders, pilling up more bodies while the MC tries to help the first victim.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
The Outsider

@Crumbly Writer

since the EMTs aren't likely to brave open gunfire


Unfortunately, Vegas provided evidence to the contrary.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Also, because Steele has reflexes like no one else on the planet, I want him to react before anyone — before the BANG.


With over a second to react, reflexes are probably not an issue - sportspersons and gamers will have no problems. But your character has the advantage of having seen the scenario before, so when Hillary Clinton's head explodes, he'll know what's happening and have the appropriate muscle memory.

Presumably Hillary Clinton's speech is being recorded, so Steele could use the timings from the recording to calculate the sniper's distance. But there's always the TV crime drama cliche/trope - Steele knows where the sniper was nesting because that's where he himself would have chosen to take the shot from.

AJ

Replies:   robberhands  REP
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

But your character has the advantage of having seen the scenario before, so when Hillary Clinton's head explodes, he'll know what's happening...

Which movie is that scene from? I liked '13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi', as a more literal way of shooting at Hillary.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

A military trained sniper turned mass shooter, isn't going to take pot shots at the MC attempting to give aid to victim 1. In this scenario, either the MC is dead or the sniper will target other bystanders, pilling up more bodies while the MC tries to help the first victim.

The point was that it's best to use literature for it's strengths, rather than trying to make fiction into a poor man's TV. But trying to cater to the TV/movie market, you're giving away literature's greatest strengths, the power to portray emotions.

I couldn't give a damn about why this particular shooter might be trying to kill people, or how Switch might decide to handle the plot, what I'm presenting is another way of addressing the issue, by stretching the scene out rather than simply going for a single dramatic moment.

And by stretch out, I don't mean a shooting that lasts for a half an hour, but rather one that can fill a chapter. A shooter trying to hit a partially concealed target wouldn't take more than a few seconds to a few additional minutes, but those few moments can present a rich tapestry of emotional content for a story, building the characters and establishing future relationships. But second guessing an undefined shooter's motives is a bit premature at this stage, since we have no CLUE who the shooter is going to eventually be.

Crumbly Writer

@The Outsider

Unfortunately, Vegas provided evidence to the contrary.

Again, I'm not talking indefinitely. I'm instead talking on a moment to moment basis, as the EMTs first try to establish the risk, which is the amount of time that Switch's MC would have to act. This wouldn't be ten minutes, but likely only a few terror filed minutes where you can convey a wide-ranging array of emotional content.

The point isn't that EMTs can't be brave, but that in a chaotic environment, the EMTs are rarely the first on the scene.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Which movie is that scene from?


I'm not sure SB has sold the movie rights yet, let alone had a movie made of his story ;)

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

The US military sniper programs mostly use the Barret M82 (either A1 or A3) and the three longest kills by the US were made with that weapon, using either .50 BMG or Raufoss NM140 MP .50 (this is an exploding anti-material round)


Who said anything about being military?

I could go buy a new M99, chambered in .50 BMG, right now for about $4,000. MilSpec 690 grain ammo can be purchased for $3 per round, Hornady A-Max 750 grain match ammo costs about $7 per round.

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

I'm not sure SB has sold the movie rights yet, let alone had a movie made of his story ;)

I can't imagine SB would stoop so low as to kill dear Hillary in the opening scene of his next novel just for the cheap effect it obviously offers.

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

while the MC is still being debriefed

Why are they taking his underpants off?

REP

@Dominions Son

it will be more like, "He's a long way off."

I want him to react before anyone — before the BANG.


If you are sitting in an audience and the speaker's head explodes, the first thing is surprise and then the adrenaline kicks in and your sense of time goes to hell. Most people won't know the time between the head exploding and the bang. Your MC Steele might. He's a long way off. is a better comment than a specific distance.

How do you see him reacting. The direction the bullet, blood and brains went would define an approximate location for the sniper. Ducking for cover seems a logical response. Pursuing the sniper, less so.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Wow! In my mind, all I had was a sniper killing some character with a delayed gunshot while the MC was present. I don't know who was shot. Why. Etc. As I said, I'm trying to formulate a plot and simply wanted a high impact beginning. Somehow I'd tie the killing into the yet undefined plot. Or I won't even use it.

High impact beginnings are cool. I love the beginning of the 2nd Jack Reacher movie (more than the movie itself). Bodies are sprawled in the parking lot. Reacher is sitting calmly in the restaurant with some bruises. It says he defeated them all without saying it. The police arrive. He analyzes every move showing another trait of his. Then, after he allows them to handcuff him, he tells the sheriff the phone will ring in n-number of minutes and then he'd be in the handcuffs. They snicker. The phone rings. Really cool beginning that was sort of the end of something and doesn't have to do with the plot.

But I agree with what you said.

REP

@awnlee jawking

so when Hillary Clinton's head explodes


Unlikely, but let's hope the remains of the bullet takes out Trump also.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

As a reader, I would find your scene unrealistic.

and he's not firing randomly, this is a trained sniper


There has only been 1 shot. There is no way to tell if the shooter is firing randomly or that he was a trained sniper.

At that point your MC starts issuing orders, telling people the best places to hide and where not to run. As they begin to listen, he finally can run to help.


The average person will panic. When people panic, they don't listen. Your scene has the MC being everywhere and doing everything. Not probably in the scenario.

Well, we'll glad to have your expertise. Now what should we do?"


Police and bodyguards aren't going to accept a strangers word and they won't do what he tells them.

As he's performing aid, he can shout instructions to any nearby cops, since they're unlikely prepared for active sniper events, which sets up the search for the shooter, which takes place while the MC is still being debriefed


Nobody is going to be listening. Nobody is going to debrief the MC until it is safe to do so.

That's much more effective than a simple 'one shot and done' gore scene.


A professional sniper is going to take his shot and possibly a backup shot and then he will be gone; if he missed, there is always another time. He won't wait around to be caught. Then there are those who are just out to kill everyone in sight. They get caught or killed.

still wiping the blood off his hands as they're bringing him coffee and thanking him for saving their fellow servicemen


It would take 30-60 minute before the MC reaches the police station. The blood on his hands would be long gone or dry. The police may bring him coffee, but they aren't going to thank him. They will be more likely upset with him for a variety of reasons, and they will be trying to take control of the situation.

Harold Wilson

@robberhands

my editor with a scene involving a tussy-mussy.


Ooh! Word of the day!

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Harold Wilson

Ooh! Word of the day!

Exactly, but I messed up. The word of the day was tussie-mussie, not tussy mussy, tuzzie-muzzie, or tuzzy muzzy. There are quite a number of different spellings but all mean the same.

Dominions Son

@The Outsider

Unfortunately, Vegas provided evidence to the contrary.


1: Why is that unfortunate?

2: Vegas wasn't a trained sniper, it was an idiot taking rapid fire pot shots into a crowd.

Replies:   The Outsider
The Outsider

@Dominions Son

Unfortunate in that they had to run into the line of fire in the first place, but they did and their training kicked in. EMS in the Hot Zone is being debated more (usually with body armor and armed back up) and the thought is to have them there to prevent deaths which could occur while waiting for the scene to be safe.

You're right that a single, maybe two, shot wouldn't have EMS right there since they'd likely be staged somewhere not close. They'd never get near the person shot quickly. A sniper might also take a second shot at responders of any sort, possibly trying to delay care to the first patient, but the shooter would likely have bugged out after the first to clear the area.

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