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Old December 17, 2009, 04:10 PM   #24
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Join Date: August 25, 2008
Location: 1B ID
Posts: 10,196
About 10 years ago, there was a documentary titled something like, "How the Movies Get it Wrong". Surprisingly, much of the coverage was on firearms and explosives.

Part of the documentary covered the 'Knocked off your feet' myth. They did a few tests with bean bags, which had the same calculated energy levels as certain projectiles in question. The narrator discussed the mathematics and energy transfer involved, as some unfortunate volunteers got blasted with the bean bags. Some dropped to the floor; some didn't. It provided a nice segue into the next subject.

They talked to a Psychology PhD, that had performed a 5 year study of 'culture vs gun shot wounds'. The PhD had reviewed tens of thousands of hours of war films, street riots (with guns), and firefights; in which some of the subjects received gun shot wounds.

His first set of findings was fairly straight forward, mostly physiological, and easily understandable:
1. A hit (or hydrostatic shock) to the central nervous system usually causes a major disruption of bodily function. The subject almost always drops to the ground; and often loses consciousness, at least for a moment.
2. A hit to a major artery or the heart is immediately sensed by the body. (Even a hit to the femoral artery causes an instantaneous drop in blood pressure.) The body's reflexes often cause the subject to drop to the ground.

His second set of findings were the most interesting:
The key factor here, was whether or not the subject knew they had been shot.
In cultures that had a large Hollywood presence; even minor gunshot wounds resulted in the person hitting the ground.
Yet, in cultures that had zero, to minimal Hollywood presence; even major gunshot wounds did not cause them the drop.

The final bit of discussion with the PhD was about Americans, in particular. He had found that, even with broken bones, if the subject didn't know of their wound, they showed no signs of being affected. However, in many cases, the wound would become apparent in some way, and they would instantly hit the ground. The documentary showed a few examples of this. The wounded police officer or soldier was continuing with their duties, but would drop to the ground as soon as they were aware of the wound. It was like a light switch.

It all boils down to what the 'victim' believes they should do, when shot.
Emotional, physiological, and mechanical (broken bones) factors come into play.

---That being said....
Transfer of energy to a shooter vs the shootee is very different.
Many of the issues have already been pointed out, but I feel the most important ones are:
1. The weight of the firearm.
. A 6.5lb rifle is not going to accelerate as quickly as the projectile, and encounters resistance (your shoulder) almost immediately.
2. The surface area being impacted.
. Dispersing the recoil energy over a larger surface can 'rock' your body fairly easily, with certain cartridges and rifles. However, the opposing force is exerted by the projectile on a much smaller surface area. You get penetration, rather than a pushing force.
3. Firearm bores are often offset, above the stock or grip.
. Offset bores direct some of the recoil energy into a non-linear motion. By directing the motion upwards, rather than back, the shooter doesn't feel the full recoil force.
"Such is the strange way that man works -- first he virtually destroys a species and then does everything in his power to restore it."
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