ORWA (the Ottawa Romance Writers' Association) had a fantastic workshop. One of our authors' husband is a gun enthusiast and he agreed to come in and show us some of his collection, explain how guns work and help us to avoid some common misconceptions. He also allowed us an opportunity to handle the weapons (safely!) to get some ideas about weight and feel.
It was a really useful workshop for me. I haven't had much experience around guns but given my love of action-adventure movies and stories, they tend to creep into my writing. Mythbusters has debunked a lot of the movie myths for me but it didn't let me get a feel for how it actually felt to sight down a sniper rifle or try to whip a Glock from a pretend holster.
Here are a few of our guest lecturer's pet peeves:
1) Pumping a shotgun without hearing or seeing a round eject. If you pump and nothing comes out, the gun wasn't loaded which really diminishes a hero's coolness factor.
2) Running with a finger on the trigger. Guaranteed to make the gun go off if you trip or lose your balance.
3) Stuffing pistols down the back of your pants. Lots of seams in pants. Unless the gun has a lot of safety features, you'll shoot yourself in the butt. And if it does, you can't just whip it out and fire.
4) Novices with Annie Oakley accuracy. He takes people to the gun range and has them try to hit a bristolboard sized target from seven feet away. Most people can't do it.
Some of my own misconceptions corrected: Having now held a rifle, I understand why you can't fire it one handed and have any hope of hitting anything. His explanations also made it clear how many factors are involved in movie-level accuracy.
My current novel isn't particularly suited to gunplay but I think I'll be visiting our local gun range in the future for research purposes.