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Gunshots (2 Viewers)

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Mark Twain't

Staff member
Global Moderator
What to use to represent the sound of a pistol being fired? For the silencer, I'm currently using 'phutt' but I'm struggling with non silenced shots. 'blam' seems ridiculous as does 'bang'.

So fire away (not literally) and tell me what it sounds like.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Factors to consider:

How big of a caliber?
How close is the listener to the shot?
Inside or outside?
City or lonely rural?
Hearing protection or no?
I know you said pistol but rifle, handgun or shotgun?

I think this is a sound that gets romanticized as a lot less impactful than it really is. Also, silencers can only do so much, unless you want to use Hollywood sounds, there is more to consider.

Without hearing protection your hearing is overwhelmed with the sound of a shot if you are doing the shooting or near someone who is. It's not just a sound it's a percussion that slams your eardrums, making them ring. 22 pistols are small caliber and will hurt your ears less than a larger caliber but more than a 22 rifle.

My husband and I agreed that the smaller calibers are more likely to be heard as a sharp crack while anything from about 9mm and up will result in the ringing in the ears and even some disorientation. More of a boom.

If you can find an instructor or a friend who's knowledgeable there is no substitute for going to a range and experiencing the real deal. Is that a possibility?
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
I think you're better off to go with longer-winded prose:

He heard the staccato pops of a gun fired rapidly.
He was startled by a dull thud in the sand at his feet, then understood it as the following sound of a rifle's crack reached him, before echoing around the valley. (I get amused at TV and film where a character hears the gun fire and ducks. Bullets travel at roughly twice the speed of sound).
 

Joker

Senior Member
I think you're better off to go with longer-winded prose:

He heard the staccato pops of a gun fired rapidly.
He was startled by a dull thud in the sand at his feet, then understood it as the following sound of a rifle's crack reached him, before echoing around the valley. (I get amused at TV and film where a character hears the gun fire and ducks. Bullets travel at roughly twice the speed of sound).

Well you wanna avoid any subsequent shots. Although an overturned table won't do.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Do you actually need a sound? If I shot a gun without a silencer, I wouldn't say it went 'bang', I'd say he shot a gun.
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Global Moderator
Factors to consider:

How big of a caliber?
How close is the listener to the shot?
Inside or outside?
City or lonely rural?
Hearing protection or no?
I know you said pistol but rifle, handgun or shotgun?

I think this is a sound that gets romanticized as a lot less impactful than it really is. Also, silencers can only do so much, unless you want to use Hollywood sounds, there is more to consider.

Without hearing protection your hearing is overwhelmed with the sound of a shot if you are doing the shooting or near someone who is. It's not just a sound it's a percussion that slams your eardrums, making them ring. 22 pistols are small caliber and will hurt your ears less than a larger caliber but more than a 22 rifle.

My husband and I agreed that the smaller calibers are more likely to be heard as a sharp crack while anything from about 9mm and up will result in the ringing in the ears and even some disorientation.
TBH, i'm not overly bothered if it's technically correct. I know that silencers don't make an overwhelming difference for example. I'm really just looking for something that doesn't sound like it came out of a comic book.


If you can find an instructor or a friend who's knowledgeable there is no substitute for going to a range and experiencing the real deal. Is that a possibility?
No chance for 2 reasons. Firstly, hand guns are rarer than hens teeth in the UK (legally held at least) and secondly, I don't really want to me within a mile of one.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
TBH, i'm not overly bothered if it's technically correct. I know that silencers don't make an overwhelming difference for example. I'm really just looking for something that doesn't sound like it came out of a comic book.



No chance for 2 reasons. Firstly, hand guns are rarer than hens teeth in the UK (legally held at least) and secondly, I don't really want to me within a mile of one.
That's a shame. Okay, then consider the factors so that, if not technically correct, it's not funny when it's not meant to be. vranger has some good advice that touches on this, write the description as a sort of equation of what goes into the sound, maybe, rather than just a simple sound.

Update: If you haven't read some of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books they might be worth a look as to how this can be described well.
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Global Moderator
I think you're better off to go with longer-winded prose:

He heard the staccato pops of a gun fired rapidly.
He was startled by a dull thud in the sand at his feet, then understood it as the following sound of a rifle's crack reached him, before echoing around the valley. (I get amused at TV and film where a character hears the gun fire and ducks. Bullets travel at roughly twice the speed of sound).
In certain circumstances, yes. I want it to be sudden and unexpected. The person whose POV I'm writing from is the recipient of the bullet.
Do you actually need a sound? If I shot a gun without a silencer, I wouldn't say it went 'bang', I'd say he shot a gun.
As above. 'he shot a gun' seems rather bland to me.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
In certain circumstances, yes. I want it to be sudden and unexpected. The person whose POV I'm writing from is the recipient of the bullet.

As above. 'he shot a gun' seems rather bland to me.
It's the action that makes it interesting though, not the sound it makes. You can have a vivid shootout without mentioning what the gun sounds like once. Bullets from a machine gun don't 'bang, bang, bang, bang' into a crowd of innocent pedestrians, it mows them down.
 

Joker

Senior Member
It's the action that makes it interesting though, not the sound it makes. You can have a vivid shootout without mentioning what the gun sounds like once. Bullets from a machine gun don't 'bang, bang, bang, bang' into a crowd of innocent pedestrians, it mows them down.

The Soviets called the MG42 Hitler's buzzsaw.
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Global Moderator
It's the action that makes it interesting though, not the sound it makes. You can have a vivid shootout without mentioning what the gun sounds like once. Bullets from a machine gun don't 'bang, bang, bang, bang' into a crowd of innocent pedestrians, it mows them down.
Yes, I understand that but I want the MC to hear the shot and 'she heard a gunshot' is too slow if you see what I mean.


Im probably not explaining this very well.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Yes, I understand that but I want the MC to hear the shot and 'she heard a gunshot' is too slow if you see what I mean.


Im probably not explaining this very well.
I agree that "bang" is too cliche and too comic book. Here is where I think you need to hit the thesaurus, my friend. And be careful when typing "friend". More than once in my online life I've dropped the "r" and called someone a fiend. It's as bad an antonym typo as "now" and "not", which I see a lot and do occasionally. I caught it this time. :)
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Bang!
Holly screams in pain as the bullet shatters her ankle
Is that really the whole context? :) Remove the bang and write:

Holly screams in pain as a bullet shatters her ankle.

What does the bang add? If it was a silencer then it's likely she wouldn't hear it anyway.
 
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