Tactical Shooting: The Sopranos

Two pricks with 9-mms. My self-esteem is non-existent right now.

– “Tony” Soprano in The Sopranos #1.13 (1999)

 

The Sopranos (1999-2007) is one of my favourite telly series. James Gandolfini as Anthony “Tony” Soprano led a cast of awesome actors playing interesting and believable characters in an organised crime set-up that guarantees drama, action, and dark humour. Combined with many innovative storytelling elements and a perfect score, this show could hardly have been any better.

SD_TS_Sopranos

There is relatively little shooting throughout, but most of those scenes are carefully choreographed and usually reasonably realistic. The shootout I want to discuss here in GURPS terms is a central scene in the first season, the attempted hit on “Tony” Soprano in The Sopranos #1.12.

Watch just the scene here (the action starts at 1:30). Stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS.

Round per Round

Prelude: Mafia boss “Tony” Soprano has just bought orange juice and a Daily Racing Form paper at a newsstand on Church Street in Montclair, New Jersey. His 1999 Chevrolet Suburban SUV (p. B464) is parked nearby. Two hired “hit men,” William “Petite” Clayborn and Rasheen Ray, are waiting in a 1999 Ford Taurus sedan (p. B464) across the street. Clayborn exits the car and approaches Soprano, drawing a Glock 19 pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum (GURPS High-Tech, pp. 100-101) with his left hand from the small of his back. Soprano makes his Per roll (p. B358), noting the approaching Clayborn in the highly polished paint of his Suburban and turns around.

1st Second: At his turn, Clayborn takes a Move and Attack manoeuvre, moving 3 metres and firing one one-handed (GURPS Tactical Shooting, p. 11) unsighted (Tactical Shooting, p. 13) shot; -4 (range) -2 (Bulk) = -6 to Guns (Pistol). He fails his attack roll and the shot misses Soprano, hitting his OJ bottle instead. At his turn, Soprano takes a Ready manoeuvre, opening the driver’s door of his Suburban.

2nd Second: At his turn, Clayborn takes a Move and Attack manoeuvre, moving 3 metres and firing one one-handed unsighted shot; -3 (range) -2 (Bulk) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He fails his attack roll and the shot misses Soprano, hitting the driver’s window, which shatters. At his turn, Soprano takes a Move manoeuvre, jumping into the driver’s seat.

3rd Second: At his turn, Ray takes a Ready manoeuvre and opens the driver’s door of the Taurus. At his turn, Clayborn takes a Move manoeuvre, moving 5 metres to cross the four-lane street. At his turn, Soprano takes a Ready manoeuvre, closing the door with his left hand and turning the ignition with his right, starting the Suburban.

4th Second: Ray takes a Move manoeuvre and gets out of the Taurus. Clayborn takes a Move manoeuvre, moving 1 metre and trying to go for a Close-Contact Shot (Tactical Shooting, p. 25). Soprano makes an All-Out-Attack (Determined) to grapple Clayborn’s left hand with the pistol (p. B370) with his right hand; +4 (All-Out Attack) -2 (halved hand hit location) = +2 to DX. His attack roll succeeds and Clayborn’s defence roll fails. Soprano’s attack was probably a critical success and the GM rules that Soprano has not only grappled Clayborn’s hand but has [luckily but probably unintentionally] put the Glock’s slide out of battery, which means it cannot fire (Tactical Shooting, p. 25).

5th Second: Ray takes a Move manoeuvre and runs 6 metres across the street. Clayborn takes an Attack manoeuvre to Break Free (p. B371) of Soprano’s two-handed hold. This is a Quick Contest of Clayborn’s ST against Soprano’s ST+5; Soprano wins. Soprano takes an Attack manoeuvre, grappling Clayborn by the neck with his left hand and pulling him through the window into the car; -3 (halved neck hit location) -4 (off hand) = -7 to DX. Soprano makes his attack roll and Clayborn fails his defence roll.

6th Second: Ray takes a Move manoeuvre and runs 6 metres around the other side of the Suburban. Clayborn takes an Attack manoeuvre to Break Free of Soprano’s two-handed hold. This is a Quick Contest of Clayborn’s ST against Soprano’s ST+5; Soprano wins. Soprano takes an Attack manoeuvre and tries to grab the pistol (p. B370) with his left hand while still grappling Clayborn’s left hand with his right and Clayborn’s neck with his left arm; -4 (weapon) -4 (off-hand) = -8 to DX. His attack roll fails. Soprano’s attack was probably a critical failure, and the GM rules that by pulling the Glock’s slide back, Soprano put it back into battery, which means it can fire again!

7th Second: Ray takes a Move manoeuvre and arrives outside the passenger window of the Suburban. Clayborn takes an Attack manoeuvre to Break Free of Soprano’s two-handed hold. This is a Quick Contest of Clayborn’s ST against Soprano’s ST+5; Soprano wins. Soprano takes an Attack manoeuvre to turn the pistol on Clayborn. This is a Quick Contest of Soprano’s ST+5 against Clayborn’s ST+5; they tie.

8th Second: Ray takes an Attack manoeuvre and fires one one-armed unsighted shot with his SIG-Sauer P228 pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum (High-Tech, p. 102) at Soprano through the passenger side window, proclaiming “Dead now motherfucker!”: +0 (range) to Guns (Pistol). Ray fails his attack roll and has to check for Hitting the Wrong Target (p. B389)! He rolls a 9 or lower and hits Clayborn in the temple. Clayborn takes four times 2d+1 pi damage (average 24 points after penetration) due to the skull hit (p. B399). He is at -1×HP or less (p. B419) and fails his HT roll by more than 2. Clayborn is immediately dead and drops to the ground. Soprano takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

9th Second: Ray takes a Move manoeuvre, saying “Oh shit!” and closing in for the kill shot. Soprano takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and grabs the pistol with his right hand; +4 (All-Out Attack) -4 (weapon) = +0 to DX. His attack roll succeeds and Ray’s defence roll fails. Soprano has grabbed the pistol and blocks the slide, which on a SIG-Sauer P228 prevents it from firing (Tactical Shooting, p. 25).

10th Second: Ray takes an Attack manoeuvre to Break Free of Soprano’s hold. This is a Quick Contest of Ray’s ST against Soprano’s ST; they tie. Soprano takes a Move manoeuvre, hitting the gas.

11th Second: Ray takes an Attack manoeuvre to Break Free of Soprano’s hold. This is a Quick Contest of Ray’s ST against Soprano’s ST; they tie. Soprano takes a Move manoeuvre, accelerating.

12th Second: Ray takes an Attack manoeuvre to Break Free of Soprano’s hold. This is a Quick Contest of Ray’s ST against Soprano’s ST; Soprano wins and seizes the pistol from Ray, who falls and gets run over by the Suburban’s rear right wheel (p. B432). The Suburban has HP 70, half of which is used to calculate the thr damage: Ray takes 4d-1 cr damage (average 13 points) and is at 0 HP or less (p. B419). He fails his HT roll by 5 or more to avoid knockdown and stun and falls unconscious. Soprano takes a Move manoeuvre, accelerating further and laughing like a maniac.

13th Second: Soprano takes a Move manoeuvre but fails to watch the road and crashes into a parking car.

 

In the show, the scene is 51 seconds long, as it cuts between showing the different characters. Parts of it are also in slow-motion.

Results

Both “hit men” are obviously not assassins (GURPS Action 1: Heroes, p. 7) but complete amateurs, lousy shots with poor planning and no idea of tactics. Their lack of skill not only manifests in their gun handling ‒ one-handed unsighted shots are generally less effective (Tactical Shooting, pp. 11, 13) ‒ and resultant misses, but also in their lack of confidence in said skill, which makes them close in on their target to ensure a hit. This is mainly a psychological reaction, since a couple of metres do not substantially improve their hit chances ‒ either in real life or in the game (p. B550).

Note how the first shot hits the OJ bottle, which would have been a low shot even if it had been on target. This is a known issue when drawing and shoving a handgun that is held in one hand forward; the ergonomics of the hand and lower arm automatically dip the muzzle downwards, resulting in low shots. A skilled shooter would of course compensate for that before even shooting.

Soprano first puts the slide of the Glock out of battery, rendering it incapable of firing, but then pulls back the slide which probably made it operational again. He might have done that to try and turn the pistol on Clayborn, but most likely he simply tried to grab the pistol and inadvertently snapped back the slide.

 

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5 comments

  1. lettorebizzoso · June 2, 2016

    “Here lie two goons – they thought pistols should be used as if they were knives”

    Like

  2. jsammallahti · June 2, 2016

    Another great pick! Couple of points: Clayborn’s first couple of shots should probably be All-Out Attacks or Move & Attacks, and Tony should suffer a posture penalty to attacks while in the car seat.

    Like

    • shootingdiceblog · June 2, 2016

      Thanks!
      No on the manoeuvres. All-Out Attack (Determined) is for sighted shots (Tactical Shooting, p. 13). Move and Attack doesn’t work because he’d be too fast, Soprano would not be able to get into the car in time.
      As to posture, yeah, perhaps. I didn’t think of that, I’ll check it.

      Like

      • jsammallahti · June 3, 2016

        But an Attack only permits a Step, he’s going too fast. Plus, at 1:35 it looks like he’s using the sights, just inexpertly and while walking.

        Like

      • shootingdiceblog · June 5, 2016

        Yeah, you’re right on the manoeuvre. Move and Attack it is. That is not sighted shooting, though, he is clearly looking at Soprano, not his sights.

        Liked by 1 person

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