My one and (hopefully) only experience getting shot (self-inflicted research)
In Blood and Whiskey, the second book in The Cowboy and Vampire Collection, there’s plenty of action. Since cowboys are involved, some of that action involves guns (along with romance and cowboy-on-vampire lust, of course).
But back to the guns. When we write about gunfights, I draw from my past. A former Montana cowboy, I did my share of shooting: targets, fence posts, pop cans, gophers (sorry gophers); I burned through a lot of ammo in those days. And while that’s probably not unique in cowboy country, I can draw from a less common experience for our writing: I’ve been on the receiving end of a six shooter.
A funny thing happened on the way to the prom
I was a junior in high school, Mom and Dad were gone for the weekend and I had a date for the prom. I’d rented a lovely sky blue tuxedo (it was the last one in the store that fit me, size doofus) and I had reservations at the nicest (only) steak house in nearby Butte, Montana.
Before all the festivities began, I took a walk in my 2,000-acre backyard and of course, strapped on a pistol first — a Ruger Blackhawk .44 mag. This was Montana, after all.
I was running down a canyon looking for coyotes to shoot at (not that I could have hit one) when I heard a terrible roar and felt an ugly tug on my leg. I looked down to see a gleaming flash of bone winking out of a gash along my knee, and my calf was scorched and blackened with powder burns. The bone wasn’t visible for long because blood began gushing down my leg, plus my vision got blurry.
The holster I was wearing broke and the gun tumbled out, landed hammer down on a rock and — it was an older model without a hammer guard — ignited the primer and sent a .44 caliber slug slicing alongside my leg. Another quarter of an inch and the bullet would have punched through my knee and I would have bled to death alone in the mountains. And missed the prom.
After the initial shock of just how close I’d come to a terminal mistake, I wrapped a bandana around my leg and hobbled home (after first unloading the stupid gun). I bandaged the wound, disposed of all the evidence and went to the prom.
I don’t remember much about the dance — pretty sure they played Stairway to Heaven — but I remember those sky blue pants had a bloodstain all down one leg by the end of the night. I dropped them off the next morning at the menswear store and never said a word.
Seriously: Do NOT try this at home, or anywhere
I am a big fan of authentic writing, but I cannot recommend taking research to this extreme. Guns are serious business and we treat them like that in our books. Tucker and his friends, like most folks in the west, see guns as tools and don’t invest them with any glorified movie fantasies. Of course, most folks aren’t dealing with bloodthirsty vampires. The undead are almost as scary as a sky blue tuxedo!