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Gunshot wound to the shoulder?
Purple & Red ;; OzyMedian ~ Watchmen
deutschtard wrote in little_details
Terms searched: Shoulder gunshot, gunshot wound, wounded from behind, long-range rifles

So, I've got a story where two men go into an old abandoned train yard in Detroit(which I've got a Dtroit-ian helping me on, accuracy-wise) that's known for gang activity. One of the men is a more hand-to-hand fighter, who ends up off doing his own thing beating the shit out of people and disarming them. The other is guns and ammo's poster child and trying to shoot and kick everything out of hisway, killing all in his path. As they're fighting, someone from the roof of a second story building behind them shoots mister guns and ammo from behind. I want the wound to be incapacitating for about a couple of weeks, nothing TOO serious, but one that would mean the other man would have to take care of him for a bit, as he wouldn't be able to use his arm too well.

Here are my questions, any help would be appreciated:

What sort of gun should the shooter be using to hit a man in the back(the left shoulder)?

Of course, depending on the rifle, how bad would he get hurt to show the signs and have the symptoms I'm talking about. I don't want there to be any serious permanent damage, just one that's going to decommission him.

If you have any questions, I'll answer what I can and give the details :) Thanks in advance!!

Don't know much of gunshots, but I'll supply some knowledge from vet school.

Something that heals will never be the same. Example: skin heals (scars) to about 70-80% as strong as it was before (there are different sorts of strengths, and what's lacking is elasticity, thus it breaks sooner if strained... like a rubber band will stretch but a string snap if you pull it).

The shoulder is a very advanced bit of biological machinery, and if you want it fully restored you'd better put the gunshot well off to the side, into muscle and nothing else.

If you put the shot in the joint itself you'll have a much longer recovery, likely splintered bone which will need to be operated and screwed back together, then operated again to remove the screws, and so forth - I don't know the human-medicine procedures, veterinarians put animals down if they're too badly injured. But to recover from such an injury would take a long, long time. Forget about weeks. Count months, up to a year before it's reliable. For years after a bone's been broken you can still see the scar from the break on an x-ray, or feel the knob of it through the skin. So imagine what would happen if you splinter it. And not only splinter a bone, but a joint? To make that not heal stiff would take a lot of medical attention, and a very long and arduous rehab. (And the bullet might lodge in the joint upon impact - another reason to operate.)

If it hits a nerve you have further problems. Nerves, contrary to popular belief, have some small ability to knit back together, but don't much count on it. Remember there are motor nerves - which send orders to muscles further down the arm - and sensory nerves - which allow his fingers to tell his head what he's touching. Either or both could be injured, and knitting back together isn't a quick or an easy process.

Put the shot decently out in in muscle, though, and he might with a month or three recover mobility, if not as much as before, not for a long while, and not without working for it (rehab). And he might retain some slight ability for motion even when the wound's fresh.

Rehab practically means rebuilding muscle and making it work, so it can't heal stiff, which it will if he doesn't flex it. But it's likely to hurt.

And of course. The cleaner the wound, the better the ability to heal. I can't tell you much about rifles, but I'd say to use a bullet with... what's it called in english... "a full metal jacket"? Means the bullet doesn't shatter/mushroom-deform upon impact and make the wound bigger and meaner. Means you're more likely to get an in-wound and an out-wound, and not an in-wound and a blown away shoulder.

And in any case, he'll need a doctor's attentions. The only way he might escape that is if the bullet just scrapes his shoulder, then he might - if he's lucky and good at keeping the injury clean and it doesn't get infected, and infection is always likely - get away without one. But the damage, of course, would be far less.

Except, with a really powerful rifle, a bullet going past his shoulder that close might well toss him off his feet and tear his shoulder out of its socket - (which a powerful rifle is likely to do hitting muscle, too, come to think of it). And then we're back where we started, with a hospital visit and a long recovery - actually, something gone out of its socket will for the rest of his life remain likely to fall out of socket again. And his arm will be practically unusable for a long while. I can't say exactly how long, but my half-educated guess would be: incapacitated for a month at the least, and weakened for about a year.

To conclude, if you want him back on his feet within weeks, keep him out of gun fights. Have someone punch him on the nose, or he can hit his head and have a concussion. It's not like in books or movies. Recovering takes a long time, and to recover fully is practically impossible. The body has a tendency to scar instead of restore. Modern medicine has come a long way in helping us heal "well", but the scars of our injuries remain with us for life. And scars aren't very interested in "restoring function". Sometimes, the body's method of scarring over an injury makes me think of a seamstress patching silk with a steel thread.

Hm. Shoulder out-of-joint correction. This can be very severe, or less severe. If it's less severe it'll heal much quicker than above stated. But it'll remain more likely to pop out of joint again than it was before.

In school we're reading about infections now, and I tend to see the dark side. Of course, worst-case scenario doesn't always strike. There's always luck.

Luck doesn't make things heal faster, though; a gunshot would still be a gunshot. People have died of gunshots to the shoulder, so it isn't as harmless as it sounds.

-nods- right right, of course. I didn't want it to penetrate too deep, just some of the muscle, but I did want it to be more than him getting grazed.

and it definitely won't go deep enough to hit the joint. I'm thinking now it should be a smaller gun, perhaps not even a rifle, because sniper-like rifles do too much damage from far away.

That is VERY helpful, thank you so much! I really appreciate it :)

everything I know about gunshot wounds I learned in Iraq


2009-04-29 03:48 pm (UTC)

The first question is who is your badguy? because that will determine the kind of gun and thus the injury.

Check out
for a similar discussion

Re: everything I know about gunshot wounds I learned in Iraq


2009-04-29 05:28 pm (UTC)

Just a random gang member, not mafia or anything, someone a little higher up on the ladder, but no one extremely rich. The two guys have been "cleaning the streets" for a couple weeks, and while they started off getting small groups of people, but word's gotten around about them, and they're going into gang territory, so there's more gang members, and better-prepared gang members.

thanks for the link! I appreciate it. One of my friends is in Iraq right now, he's got a desk job, thankfully, because someone dropped a gun on his wrist and he's gotta let it heal.

Re: everything I know about gunshot wounds I learned in Iraq


2009-04-30 10:05 pm (UTC)

Sorry about the delayed response.

If he's a just another gangbanger he's probably going to be carrying something cheap/stolen. Being in Michigan that means some kind of carbine or "Deer Gun" possibly an SKS.

That said there are alot of possible complications that can arise from a shoulder wound, Lots of ligaments/nerve bundles to mess-up along with a major artery. A shattered shoulder blade would also be incapacitating. (for months not weeks) If you're looking for a more "superficial" wound I would recomend moving it to an arm or leg.

Re: everything I know about gunshot wounds I learned in Iraq


2009-05-04 03:35 am (UTC)

-gets back from the grand canyn-

Sorry, m'self.

I'm thinking perhaps shoulder isn't the best idea, now that you've told me this stuff. I'll probably move it to his arm, not his shoulder, because I don't want it to be so bad, I do want it to do more than leave him with a scratch, but I don't want it to leave a TON of permanent damage.

Re: everything I know about gunshot wounds I learned in Iraq


2009-05-04 03:26 pm (UTC)

I'd suggest a .30 Crabine to the upper arm or other fleshy area (buttox maybe?). It has the required reach for the "OMG Sniper" effect while still being relatively "Low-powered" for a center-fire rifle.

Of course if you want to play for comedy you could have have "Mr. Guns & Ammo" get shot by some hoodlum with a .22 rim-fire

Mr. Guns & Ammo: "He Shot me with a .22, a freakin .22"

With the Rim-fire you could keep the wound in the shoulder as the shot would probably lack the energy to penetrate bone.

The required first-aid has already been discussed.

Re: everything I know about gunshot wounds I learned in Iraq


2009-05-04 07:59 pm (UTC)

oooh, yes, I quite like that. I bet he'd be pretty pissed off if the guy shot him with a .22, and hilarity would definitely ensue. He would not be happy at ALL.

awesome, thanks so much, I really really appreciate it!!


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