In my WIP; my supporting character shoots a man in the leg to protect my MC. The SC is no killer, but he wants the man he shot to take him seriously. So after shooting this man in the leg, he raises the rifle and aims for the man's crotch. The SC has no intention of shooting the man there. It's just to frighten the man into thinking the SC will shoot him there.
Being a woman, I'm wondering if I would think of something like this more than a man would. Would a man in this situation aim for the crotch? Or is this more like something a woman would do? I'll add that I'm thinking the rifle would be a 22, though I could make it a higher caliber if necessary.
So what do you guys think? Would having a man aim at another man's crotch be realistic or feasible? Would a 22 be enough fire power to do the job?
My opinion, and it is just one man's opinion, is that this would depend on the type of man this SC is. My personal impression is that aiming for the crotch projects a certain ruthlessness and underhandedness. I'm sure you've heard the saying 'below the belt' used to describe a dishonorable act. So, maybe your MC wants to project ruthlessness, or maybe he really is ruthless (though your description doesn't sound like he is to me).
One might question the use of a rifle at close range, though. I'll leave that to the firearms experts.
Bearing in mind that I am a man, but also with military background my thinking may not be normal.
Whether I would aim there would really depend on what exactly I'm trying to communicate, and how "in the game" I am. Shooting someone in the leg says "I'm very in-control right now." I imagine maybe the badguy getting shot by the SC from the shadows type situation. Or it says "I'm bluffing."
So, I guess it depends mostly on was this a target of opportunity or on purpose? Does the bad guy have reason to believe I accidentally shot him in the leg and would kill him or is it that he thinks I don't have the will to kill him? If I have the will, then he'll believe the threat of maiming. But if it was an accident, and he doesn't believe the will exists, will he believe that you'll really blow his nads off?
If he'll believe that I really will do it, that the leg was part of the sadism and that for my own sadistic reasons I chose not to kill when I had the chance, then the crotch seems logical to me. If he thinks I simply won't do it, then really any threat becomes ineffective.
Hmmm...but we're not in the bad guys head, we're in the SC's head. If the SC is not a killer, then I think he probably hasn't thought through the psychology of it. So he's trying to communicate something that he isn't really willing to do. So the threat cannot be genuine, he's acting.
So I'd say if he has the drop, yes. From an acting standpoint of someone not actually willing to do it, then I would aim for the crotch as the next escalation. If in the heat, no.
As far as caliber of weapon, a .22 doesn't particularly looking deadly, but it would depend on different things. Who is the SC that they have a gun? Did they pick it up? Are the a hunter? Is this their house/arena? Was it for self-defense? The reason they have the weapon will determine what kind of weapon it should be.
I don't think the question makes any sense. Men don't come out of the man-factory programmed with answers any more than a woman would. There are men who wouldn't hurt a fly; there are men who pull the wings off flies for amusement.
You have to ask whether the SC would do this based on his background and personality.
Personally, I think you should listen to your reticence on this one. I don't mean don't have the SC do it, but consider what that reticence means. You are not the kind of person who goes around threatening people with guns, therefore you are not certain what would be the natural thing to do. I don't think a pro would. A real thug is interested in getting the person he's threatening to do what he wants -- which is usually to put himself in an even more vulnerable position. Therefore a pro would be less likely to go overboard with horrific, because in an ironic way he's trying to be reassuring: Do what I tell you to do and everything will be alright. A pro like a bounty hunter or something like that would probably have the same considerations. What he wants is compliance, so he needs to choose the optimal threat level.
Now a sadistic psychopath who is into the pain and fear of his victims would be a different story. I don't think he'd confine himself to one spot.
I think you need to think this scene through carefully. The impulse to threaten a crotch-shot would be one an amateur would have. Then think through the consequences; how would the person being aimed at react? How does the SC respond to that.
I think it totally depends on the individual more than the gender. Just my opinion though. If I were reading it in a story, I'd accept it just fine so long as it was consistent with the character doing it.
Of course my other thought is that if the one guy has been shot in the leg, he is probably in an altered mental state and possibly bleeding profusely and in serious pain. He might not be able to understand the gravity of the SC's threat.
Well, I remember a film with Steven Seagal where his character as the main protagonist aims a rifle at the main antagonist's crotch and pulls the trigger. Didn't seem an unmanly thing to do at the time. Of course the point was Seagal misses the man's junk and then comments: "I missed. I never miss. They must be smaller than I thought."
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Charlie is a woman caught in the woods by 3 men. They have her tied up. She was on the run, and Sam is supposed to meet her on a back road and take her to safety. Sam steps out in the open and demands Charlie's captors set her free with the rifle aimed at the one closest to Charlie. This man doesn't think Sam has the gall to shoot him, and Sam shoots him in the leg. All three men are shocked. Sam aims the gun at the injured man's crotch demanding Charlie's release. They untied Charlie, and she and Sam back away with Sam covering her captors until it's safe enough for them to turn and run.
I should add that this takes place in present day Midwest America. Sam is a college professor who likes to go squirrel hunting and do target shooting. He's never been faced with shooting anyone before this.
Seems to me he should just aim the gun at the guy's chest and let the threat keep him from having to carry it out. If he acts nervous about it, it won't matter where it's pointing but the same goes if he does it with confidence. Unless, as mentioned above, he wants to come off as sadistic; then the crotch shot works.
However, if he's comfortable and good enough using a gun to shoot a guy in the leg, he knows that you shouldn't aim it at someone unless you're ready to use it. I understand not wanting to use it, but if it's him or them, would he really hesitate to protect himself, or her? If he has the advantage and loses it because he won't shoot, he'd better have a darn good reason or he'll come off as weak. Whereas if he aims at the chest and they get away, as planned, and he admits later that he was scared he was really going to have to shoot, it's a stronger showing, while still addressing his hesitation to kill.
Wow. Your SC sounds interesting. Here is why I say that: if he already shot someone in the leg, he is in control and should have the other person ready to listen. If not and your bad guy is still thinking he can win this fight, the bad guy is obviously in need of much humiliation and the crotch target works. If the bag guys is whimpering like a stuck pig, and now your SC aims at the crotch, it says alot about your SC. Obviously, mere control over another isn't good enough. He is trying to punish him for something...
So why is he aiming the gun at the same guy rather than one of the uninjured ones?
[This message has been edited by Teraen (edited September 25, 2011).]
I don't see your rustic college professor as being particularly sadistic or even necessarily out for revenge - these would be the primary reasons I can think of in which he would aim or shoot there. Also if there were a chance for the other two to have a weapon, he would probably aim at one of them and not the one on the ground.
Still don't think the crotch shot is sensible, but that can be Sam's inexperience and insecurity showing. He's shot one guy so he's proved his point. He doesn't have to raise the stakes any more because she shown he's willing to shoot them. So if Sam is sensible he wouldn't start going Grand Guignol on them because he wouldn't want to provoke a response.
On the other hand, if Sam is afraid, stupid, or just plain cowardly, he might well choose to, er, gild the lily.
If you're a fan of old western movies, ask yourself: would a character played by Gary Cooper or John Wayne take the crotch shot? Obviously not. It'd be the bad guy who does it, because at heart he's a coward and that means he doesn't know when to stop.
Thanks everyone for your input, and from the replies I think I'll drop the crotch shot.
Also, none of Charlie's captors are armed. Charlie did something that involves her with the law. They are looking for her and these three country guys go looking for her thinking there might be a reward to bring her in. Sam knows she's done nothing wrong and is trying to help hide her when Charlie runs for it then finds out she needs Sam's help to hide from the authorities.
Yes, the crotch shot is too much over the top. Thanks again.
Good point, Corky. I hadn't thought of that. One reason they wouldn't chase after Sam and Charlie is because they are unarmed and Sam still has the rifle. Another is that they are, for the most part, honest men just trying to make a fast buck and didn't expect to be confronted with an armed man.
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