ShootingStarr: Britney Starr discusses the portrayal of guns in movies, and what not to do when it comes to the fundamentals of gun handling and safety.
A typical Saturday night at my house often consists of me yelling, “Finger OFF the trigger!” multiple times. No, I’m not yelling at anyone in my house; I’m yelling at my TV.
Scenes of poor gun-handling skills (especially from women) in the movies or on your favorite TV series seem to be ever rampant, and it hurts my safety-conscious heart. This is why we can’t have nice things, People. Granted, the portrayal of guns in movies has progressed quite a bit from “back in the day,” but there is still a huge disconnect between gun-handling fundamentals and what’s actually portrayed to the masses.
I’ve enlisted the help of my friend, Suzi Huntington, to decipher exactly why these crimes against gun-handling fundamentals won’t work in real life. Suzi worked as police officer at San Diego PD for 23 years, and she’s currently the editor of American COP Magazine, so she knows exactly how action scenes are supposed to be played out. Hmm. Maybe Hollywood should hire her as a consultant?
I cringe every time I see a leading lady “teacupping” her handgun. Teacupping is when the shooter’s dominant hand is too far down on the backstrap of the gun, and the support hand is just an open palm that is cradling the bottom of the dominant hand. Think, a teacup placed on a saucer.
“The problem with this grip is — it’s not a grip. As soon as a shot is fired, the dominant hand will rise off the palm of the other hand, and usually the shooter’s arm will rise too. You’ll also likely see a wrist break, and it’s not unusual to see the shooter tilt her head back during the recoil, because she’s reacting to her arm and wrist moving back toward her face. Ultimately, she must re-establish her grip after every shot.
“This is a very unstable way to shoot (and a great way to have the gun fly out of your hands) as opposed to a push/pull grip. With a proper grip, you keep your dominant hand high on the backstrap and wrap your support hand around the fingers of the other hand, with your index finger held up tight under the trigger guard. The sides of your hands and thumbs should align, almost like you’re holding a blade of grass between them (Remember when you were a kid, blowing on a blade of grass to make a whistle sound?). Thumbs should be straight or pinning one down with the other; that is a personal preference,” said Suzi.
Teacupping can cause other problems, such as bad stance. There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman teacupping a gun and looking like she might fall backwards if a small gust of wind happened to blow in her general direction.
According to Suzi, a shooter leans back while firing her gun, with her feet too close together, every shot will make her increasingly more off balance, until the recoil of the gun nearly pushes her over.
“This stance is unstable and will fatigue your back, neck and shoulder muscles, and you’ll be hard pressed to hit the broad side of a barn. Leaning back doesn’t allow your body to act as a shock absorber to absorb the gun’s recoil.
“Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and slightly offset, lean forward a little from standing tall and pack your shoulders (squeeze them slightly towards your neck). Move your arms up in front of you to bring your sights into view, and then, once you’ve acquired a good sight picture, squeeze the trigger. Your shoulders will absorb the recoil and you won’t be driven backwards off balance. The key to keeping everything packed and in line is using your core muscles,” said Suzi.
Sights? What sights?
Shooting from the hip can be a great novelty trick, especially if you’re using a shotgun, but you won’t get the desired result if you’re using a handgun. Guns have sights for a reason – so you can hit your intended target. Often, I will see the leading lady close her eyes or look away when firing a handgun, but somehow, she hits her target every time – something that wouldn’t happen in the real world.
“How many times must we watch actors and actresses searching for someone or something and they’re holding their guns in the ‘High Sabrina’ position (think Charlie’s Angels), up by one of their shoulders and behind them as they then peek around a corner? What’s the point of having the gun out if you’re not going to point it in the direction you’re supposedly looking? If you’re not actively aiming at the threat, then you can keep the gun at a low ready, but once you see the threat, simply raise the gun up to where you’re looking through the sights at the target. You can’t hit anything (even up close) if you don’t have your sights in front of your eyes.
“Think of your sights this way: Every bullet that comes out of your gun has a tiny attorney attached to it — the one that’s going to sue you when your shot hits something you didn’t intend for it to hit — because you didn’t take the time to use your sights,” said Suzi.
Finger on the trigger
Keep your finger OFF the trigger until your sights are on the target. This basic gun-safety rule is one that I see broken by movie characters and TV show actors and actresses time and time again. This is the one that really makes me cringe, and yell at my TV.
“Wandering around with your finger on the trigger is not only dangerous, it’s plain stupid. If you should trip or fall, you’re going to pull the trigger, and who knows where that shot will go. Same thing goes for if you’re startled,” said Suzi.
Movies and TV shows (even “reality” shows) are obviously intended to be entertainment, not real life. So, do as Suzi says, and not as your favorite leading lady does (unless she has proper gun-handling skills). In any case, it is always important to seek professional training to learn the fundamentals of gun handling and safety, and leave the entertaining to the movie stars.