Here is an interesting article: Enter the ‘Stopping Power’ Debate: 5x ‘one shot’ did not ‘stop’. It links to an FBI report: "EPIC - Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) Project FOIA Request". I collect these things from a writer's perspective because I want my fiction to be accurate. But what you learn in knowing these kinds of things, translates quite directly to your personal life.
I've always kept in my mind when writing fiction or in life for that matter, that when you expect someone to die they don't, just won't. And when you don't want them to die, they generally do. Even if it's not true, it's an effective way to think. And it always makes for a more interesting story.
If ever you shoot someone in trying to kill them, in realty you may very well find that they just won't die. You have to be very focused to make that happen and have even a little luck sometimes. Now if you spray someone with machine gun fire, you'll probably kill them. But that's not quite what we're talking about here.
On the other hand, if you get, let's say, in a bar fight, one blow and the sucker could drop dead either from the strike, the fall, or any number of things. He could have had a brain aneurysm and was going to die in a day or so anyway, but now you could be up on charges for murder.
Stop me if I've told you this one before.
I once was visiting a new bar in Kent, Washington with my (now ex) wife and one of her her girlfriends. We lived in a nice little community east of Kent called, Covington. But this one night we were checking out a bar that had darts in Kent, which had always been known for it's troubled communities. As with most places, it has good areas and bad. This wasn't a bad area.
Let me just say, I don't see myself as a "tough guy". Though people have moved out of my way walking down the street before, maybe because being 6'2" and 200 pounds gives you some perspective in walking through a crowd. Whatever it is, I'd call myself a coward simply repressed by notions of Ethical behavior and just Good Manners.
Anyway, after about half an hour at this bar I got up to go to the rest room. Then when I closed to rest room door I noticed two drunk jailbirds had walked over to our table and were talking to my wife and her friend. Not wanting to be rude, or jealous, I walked up and stood there for a minute, listening to the girls cut these guys up verbally pretty and wondered why they were taking it. It didn't take long to realize the ladies didn't want these guys bugging them. But the two of them were having so much fun chewing these guys up with cuts and slams to their egos, I wasn't quite sure what to do. Rule number one is acquire enough information to react appropriately. Too many jerks react first then get the info, but by then it's too late if they're wrong and possibly they could wind up being the bad guy.
On the one hand, if I jumped in and started telling these guys to get lost, I might provoke them, and also provoke the girls. "Hey, we were having fun tearing those two idiots apart and they asked for it." Okay, then. So on the other hand, if I just stood there, well, so I just stood there. I wanted to see where this was headed anyway. Till I got tired standing around and wanted to sit down.
So, I tried to sit down. But I couldn't sit down because one of the guy's was in the way. I moved my chair and oh God, I bumped him. He bristled and looked hard at me. I looked back at him, then at my chair, then back at him and said, like I was a little confused, "This, is my chair, I just want to sit down." He stared at me, then realization hit his eyes and he suddenly was almost nice and said, "Sorry". I sat down and they continued.
Pretty quickly though it turned into harassment and it was obvious this wasn't going to end well. I worked at the University of Washington back then and I regularly played racquetball and worked out at the same UW gym that the Husky football team used. They had great weight sets there. But I can handle my own pretty well. Not that I want to, I just wanted a beer and to play darts. With two very attractive ladies. One who was mine to get all romantic over, and these two guys were basically "damaging my calm".
So I started to get more involved. Now all five of us were saying things, one at a time, it wasn't like it had degenerated yet into a full out melee. Through the course of our interaction it became clear that they were blue collar jailbird types when one guy said, "I know all the guards at King County Jail really well", from having been incarcerated there multiple times, which he then made clear. It became apparent they were pushing for a fight because I had two very attractive women with me (my wife and her friend) and they had none. And understandably so.
Through our "talk" I tried to diffuse the situation. I've always been very good at that Though I wasn't too worried, nor was my wife. Who, even with her knee in a cast from a horse training accident, she would have joined in being the cowgirl she was at twenty-two. But she knew I'd started martial arts in grade school and was carrying a handgun that night (which I've never used, only shown a few times in my lifetime and never had to pull out.
I've always been a believer that if you pull it you have to be ready to use it, in fact, only pull if it you will use it. Intent is telegraphed to the assailant and maybe then, you won't have to shoot. It's honestly been useful in just knowing that there was a backup available just in case I needed it and, if I thought I was being abused to the point of dying, I had an equalizer.
But I also always believed that I should never pull it out unless it was to equalize the situation, or take control if need be. I've found many times in my lifetime that it is better for me to be in control than other's around me. That being said, a few times I've just kept my mouth shut because I thought someone else was actually handling the situation as well or better than I would. It's not about ego, it's about achieving the mission, peace, in the end.
Getting back to the bar, at one point one guy looks at me and says, "What do you have against a friendly bar fight?" Really. "Friendly"-- bar fight. So I asked him.
"Do you realize how easy it is to kill someone? One misplaced punch, one slip on the floor, accidentally hitting your head on something hard, the bar, the floor, a chair, and it's very easy to just accidentally kill someone in a "friendly" bar fight. So I simply choose to not be involved in bar fights if at all possible. I came out here tonight to have some fun, relax. Ending the night with someone possibly severely damaged is not my idea of a good time."
Obviously, I didn't tell him the other half of that way of thinking. That being that it can also be very hard to kill someone. That flashed through my mind at the time, but I had more imminent matters at hand. I also didn't give him my usual spiel as I wasn't trying to humiliate him or make things worse. That was, if someone can push me into a fight, I'm going to try to kill them as quickly as possible. If that's what they are into, let's do it. It's really hard to make me angry and if someone can achieve that, maybe the deserve whatever comes next.
Believe it or not, I've had that statement end a few bar and street fights before they got started. Look, I'm not into fighting for fun so I figure if you're dumb enough to push me into it, we're going to make the papers.
So anyway, oddly enough he actually thought about what I told them, for a moment. Then he nodded and said, "Yeah, you're right, I see your point." Which both surprised and confused me.
Then the two of them just-- walked away.
Amazing. I had actually convinced them that a "friendly" bar fight as they had put it, could be a very dangerous thing and rather than having a good punch out, you could end up in jail for life for murder, or at least charged with manslaughter. I really had thought this fight was going to happen no matter what. It had just had that feeling at first.
Either way, it wasn't my idea of how to end a pleasant evening. But I had somehow diffused the situation. I'll admit, I'm pretty sure about half of this kind of thing is in the delivery and timing. I mean, if ten people were in my place and all said the same exact words, I'm pretty sure a fight would have happened anyway for some.
On a side note, two months later we returned. Hey, as it was a really nice bar and had lots of good electronic dart boards, a game which I'm pretty good at. This time my wife and I were there with different girlfriend of hers (also quite attractive) and of course the same two drunks were there and lucky us, they recognized us almost as soon as we sat down.
Once we noticed them, we almost turned around and left. But we thought, "Naw, it couldn't happen twice in a row. What are the odds we'd run into them, and what then are the odds they'd be drunk and in the same frame of mind, again." Well, as it turned out (and perhaps yes, we should have known), the odds were pretty good.
Needless to say sadly, that was the last night we went there. But first we had to deal with it all over again. More interesting end this time though. Once they finally got tired of harassing us (yes, I can't believe I talked my way out of a fight with the same guys twice), they wandered over to the bar to pick a fight with some poor cute girl at the bar. Not happy about it I was about to wander over there when suddenly, a rather staunch lesbian stepped in who had just entered with her own girlfriend. She was bigger than the girl, barely smaller than the guys.
She got right in their faces and barked out, "Pick on someone your own size. You want a fight, go for it! Here I am." The poor girl in question was shrinking and the female bartender was just stunned like a dear in headlights. At that point though I was ready to help her out if needed since I had already been unwillingly enlisted in this stupid "fight club". Though I suspected she really might not need my help and might even resent it. I've been in that situation before. Where a woman was going to fight some guys and I stopped it and to this day, twenty five years later, she still resents my stepping in at her house party.
But the guys just backed down and walked off. So yes, I have to assume now that they might have been harmless. But you don't know that at first (or second?). And a bar fight can very easily go very wrong though many people just don't realize it. It's not that hard to break a jaw, or worse.
Had I taken him out back and set out to kill him, yes it's quite possible I could have beaten and shot him and yet he may have survived. After all, Destiny doesn't always grace us with our desires and it's part and parcel of what makes life so... interesting. Don't you think? I'm no Rambo. I mind my own business and I try not to hurt anyone, but if pushed I'll walk that path to where ever it takes me.
People just don't always die as expected. Consider the film, Blood Simple. Or Blue Velvet as interesting examples of characters who didn't die as expected and added so much to the color of those films or in the former example, structured the entire storyline. Those kinds of deaths really happen. Life isn't what you see on TV. One blow doesn't usually knock someone out. One shot does not usually kill someone. Sometimes in a "friendly bar fight" someone does die, and not usually people can have lifelong issues stemming from that fight.
In Blue Velvet a bad cop is shot in the head and killed, yet continued to just stand there alive but brain dead. Sure, brain dead is good enough but the point is still valid. What you expect isn't always what happens. It's much, much easier simply not to try to kill someone, but if you do want to kill them, you have to try very hard and be very accurate in your attempt. When you're in war, there is a lot of spraying bullets and blowing things up. But one on one, it's an entirely different matter.
The concept of one shot one kill is mostly for snipers and professionals who also have this problem but are more skilled at raising the odds in their favor. Still, when a typical individual tries to kill, or perhaps even means not to, it's just not unusual for the object of their intentions to escape them. Life is real and it's good to know the real from the fiction.
And like I said, it always makes for a more interesting story.