Tactical Shooting: The Way of the Gun

One’s backfire, three is gunplay.

– Joe Sarno in The Way of the Gun (2000)

 

Christopher McQuarrie’s The Way of the Gun (2000) is an imperfect cult movie. Its main characters “Mr Longabaugh” (Benicio del Toro) and “Mr Parker” (Ryan Philippe) are of course named after the famous Hole in the Wall Gang members “Butch Cassidy” (née Robert Parker) and “The Sundance Kid” (née Harry Longabaugh), and there are several references to George Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), including the location where the showdown was shot. Unlike that brilliant Western, the story about two drifters who decide to finally pull a major score by kidnapping a surrogate pregnant woman suffers from plot holes, is irregularly paced, and has a good deal of forced dialogue. However, I have no issue with the dubious moralities displayed; the main characters are criminals and no more reprehensible than other fiction criminals ‒ or indeed, many nominally good guys. On the plus side, the film boasts first-class acting performances by the likes of Benicio del Toro, James Caan, and Geoffrey Lewis, an ace score, and, unsurprisingly given its title, some very cool shootouts.

sd_ts_way-of-the-gun

In fact, The Way of the Gun was a primary inspiration for GURPS Tactical Shooting, since it not only shows overall good gun handling and a number of important perks and techniques, it also clearly displays the differences between several shooting styles as defined in that book. The shootout I want to examine here in GURPS terms is a brief section of a longer engagement shortly before the final gunfight with the “bagmen.”

Watch just the scene here (the action starts at 0:03). Stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS.

Round per Round

Prelude: “Mr Longabaugh” and “Mr Parker” are on the first floor of a Mexican brothel and try to flush out mercenary Jeffers and the Brothel Operator in order to get back at their erstwhile kidnapping victim. Both are shooters (GURPS Action 1: Heroes, p. 14); “Mr Longabaugh” is armed with a Colt Government MK IV Series 70 semiautomatic pistol in .45 ACP (GURPS High-Tech, p. 98) in an undercover holster (High-Tech, p. 154) with four spare 7-round magazines in a quad belt pouch and at least another four magazines in his pants pockets and an IMI Galil ARM Model 332 semiautomatic rifle in 7.62×51mm NATO (High-Tech, p. 117) with a three-point sling (Tactical Shooting, p. 72) and one spare 25-round magazine in his coat pocket. “Mr Parker” is armed with a Colt Government MK IV Series 70 semiautomatic pistol in .45 ACP with four spare 7-round magazines in a quad belt pouch and a Remington Model 870 Police Magnum pump-action shotgun in 12-gauge 3” (High-Tech, pp. 105-106) with a three-point sling and a shell bag (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 33) holding at least 25 spare #00 buckshot shells. Somewhat surprisingly, he seems to have abandoned the Colt Combat Commander MK IV Series 70 semiautomatic pistol in .45 ACP which he carried earlier as a backup. [The pistol props are actually in 9×19mm Parabellum because of their better performance with blanks, but they are meant to be in .45 ACP, implied by the number of shots fired and the fact that the shooters are clearly inspired by Jeff Cooper’s Modern Technique of the Pistol, and actually spelled out by the director’s commentary on the film.] Both wear a Point Blank Enhanced Coverage IIIA Concealable Vest (High-Tech, p. 67). “Mr Longabaugh” and “Mr Parker” are standing in a corridor aiming their long arms at its end. Both are in Triggered mode (Tactical Shooting, p. 34). It is daylight but the shades are drawn, for -1 to Vision (Tactical Shooting, p. 18). Suddenly someone calls for help from one of the rooms. Both are temporarily distracted. “Mr Parker” steps forward to open the door to a room to their right. [Note how he reaches for the door with his left hand, while his shooting hand stays on the grip of his shotgun and the stock is still tucked into his shoulder.] “Mr Longabaugh” looks to his right.

1st Second: At the end of the hallway, Jeffers takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and makes a Pop-Up Attack (p. B390) by leaning around the left corner and firing one one-handed (Tactical Shooting, p. 11) sighted (Tactical Shooting, p. 13) shot with his off-hand with his H&K USP semiautomatic pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum (High-Tech, p. 102) at “Mr Longabaugh”: -2 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -1 (darkness) -4 (Off-Hand) = -8 to Guns (Pistol). Jeffers almost certainly has the Off-Hand Weapon Training (Pistol) perk (Tactical Shooting, p. 39) [He earlier demonstrated that he can effectively fire his Mossberg Model 590 Mariner pump-action shotgun from his left shoulder despite being right-handed.] That would remove the -4 penalty for the off-hand and reduce the overall penalty to -4. He fails and ducks back behind his corner. The Brothel Operator takes an Attack manoeuvre and makes a Pop-Up Attack by leaning around the right corner and firing one one-handed unsighted (Tactical Shooting, p. 13) shot with his FN-Browning HP semiautomatic pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum (High-Tech, p. 99) at “Mr Parker”: -2 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -1 (darkness) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He fails and ducks back behind his corner. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) manoeuvre (pp. B365, 409-410) and Fast-Fires six two-handed (Tactical Shooting, p. 12) unsighted shots with his rifle while taking a Step backwards: -2 (range) -1 (darkness) +1 (RoF) -6 (Fast-Firing) = -8 to Guns (Rifle); his skill is capped at 6 + 6 = 12. The smooth rapid fire suggests that he has the Fast-Firing (Rifle) technique (Tactical Shooting, p. 44), which could bring the Fast-Firing penalty down to -2 and the overall penalty to -4. [The editing makes it appear that Jeffers and the Brothel Operator duck back after “Mr Longabaugh” has started firing, which makes no sense either realistically or by the rules.] “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Defence (Increased Defence) manoeuvre and dives in a Dodge and Drop (p. B377) into the room on their left.

2nd Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Suppression) manoeuvre and Fast-Fires four two-handed sighted shots with his rifle at the Brothel Operator while taking a Step inside the room for cover: -2 (range) -1 (darkness) -4 (Fast-Firing) = -7 to Guns (Rifle) or -3 with the Fast-Firing (Rifle) technique; his skill is capped at 6 + 4 = 10. [RoF 4 does not permit Suppression Fire (p. B409), but there is good reason for allowing it anyway.] “Mr Parker” takes a Change Posture manoeuvre and gets up from a prone position to a kneeling position.

3rd Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall (p. B408): -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) = -11 to Guns (Rifle). [The rounds go cleanly through the wall, which appears to have about DR 20. Note how the bullet holes stitch a straight line into the wall, which does not even wander when it hits the corner of the room. This is completely unrealistic. A rifle firing a heavy cartridge like the 7.62×51mm NATO cannot be controlled like this if fired that fast, and even if it could be the line would deviate once it hit the corner …] He fails. “Mr Parker” takes a Change Posture manoeuvre and gets up from a kneeling position to a standing position.

4th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre to come around the room. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) = -11 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre after noticing Jeffers, who now appears in a doorway at the end of their room, and firing three two-handed sighted shots with his shotgun at Jeffers; -2 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -1 (darkness) +5 (3×9 pellets) = +3 to Guns (Shotgun). He fails.

4th Second: Jeffers takes an All-Out Defence (Increased Defence) manoeuvre and crouches while moving out of the doorway. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) = -11 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots with his shotgun at the door; -2 (range) -1 (darkness) +5 (3×9 pellets) = +2 to Guns (Shotgun). [RoF 3 is not enough to permit Suppression Fire.]

5th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre and crouches while moving around the room. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) = -11 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. “Mr Parker” takes a Ready manoeuvre and starts reloading his shotgun. He makes his Fast-Draw (Ammo) roll. [We do not see this, but he has expended six of his seven (6+1) shots and resumes firing in the 8th Second.]

6th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre and crouches while moving around the room. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) = -11 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. [He is empty.] “Mr Parker” takes a Ready manoeuvre and keeps reloading his shotgun.

7th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre and crouches while moving around the room. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Ready manoeuvre and starts reloading his rifle by ejecting the empty magazine. “Mr Parker” takes a Ready manoeuvre and keeps reloading his shotgun. [Loading one shell into a shotgun with internal magazine takes 2 seconds (High-Tech, p. 87). A successful Fast-Draw (Ammo) roll reduces this by 1 second (High-Tech, p. 87) for every three rounds. Thus, “Mr Parker” would have been able to reload two shells in three turns. With one shell still in his gun, this would bring his capacity to 2+1.]

8th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes an Attack manoeuvre for a Pop-Attack and fires one unsighted left-handed shot with this pistol at  “Mr Longabaugh”: -2 (range) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -1 (darkness) -4 (off-hand) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). He succeeds and “Mr Longabaugh” has no active defence, being unaware. The shot hits him from the back in the torso hit location (p. B399). “Mr Longabaugh” takes 2d+2 pi (average 9 points) of damage, which fails to go through his DR 12/5* body armour. However, he probably takes 1 point of blunt trauma (p. B379) and is shocked on his next turn (p. B419). “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre, dropping down prone on a conveniently placed bed as a free action. “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre, swivelling around and firing one two-handed sighted shot at the Brothel Operator; -2 (range) +1 (All-Out Attack) -1 (darkness) +2 (1×9 pellets) = +0 to Guns (Shotgun). He succeeds but the Brothel Operator makes his Dodge roll.

9th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Ready manoeuvre and keeps reloading his rifle, reaching for a fresh magazine in his left coat pocket. [Although he is shocked, the -1 to DX and IQ has no impact on his reload.] “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) manoeuvre firing two two-handed sighted shots at the door; -2 (range) -1 (darkness) +4 (2×9 pellets) = +1 to Guns (Shotgun). [RoF 2 is not enough to permit Suppression Fire.]

10th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Ready manoeuvre and keeps reloading his rifle, inserting the fresh magazine and racking the bolt. “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) manoeuvre firing two two-handed sighted shots at the door; -2 (range) -1 (darkness) +4 (2×9 pellets) = +1 to Guns (Shotgun). [This is impossible, since he is now definitely out of ammo even if he reloaded unseen before!]

11th Second: Jeffers takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and makes a Pop-Up Attack by firing three two-handed sighted shots with his pistol at “Mr Parker”: -2 (range) -2 (legs) +1 (All-Out Attack) -1 (darkness) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) = -6 to Guns (Pistol). [As a professional bodyguard, Jeffers undoubtedly deliberately targeted the legs, having noted their body armour.] He succeeds and scores one hit. “Mr Parker” cannot defend because he is unaware. He is hit in the leg hit location (p. B399) for 2d+2 pi (average 9 points) damage. The damage roll must have been low (minimum 4 points), since this is not a major wound that cripples the leg. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Change Posture manoeuvre and gets up from the prone position to a kneeling position. “Mr Parker” takes a Ready manoeuvre to transition (Tactical Shooting, p. 14) to his pistol, drawing it with his right hand from the holster and gripping it with both hands, immediately assuming a Weaver shooting stance (Tactical Shooting, pp. 11-12). This would ordinarily require another Ready manoeuvre, but “Mr Parker” has the Grip Mastery (Pistol) perk (Tactical Shooting, p. 39), which allows him to do this as a free action. “Mr Parker” carries his single-action pistol (High-Tech, p. 82) “cocked-and-locked” (Tactical Shooting, p. 8), and flipping off the safety is a free action for a familiar user (High-Tech, p. 80).

12th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and Fast-Fires five two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (RoF) -5 (Fast-Firing) = -15 to Guns (Rifle). Again, his smooth performance suggests the Fast-Firing technique. He fails. “Mr Parker” takes a Move and Attack manoeuvre and swivels around, firing three two-handed (Tactical Shooting, pp. 11-12) unsighted shots from his pistol at Jeffers while falling down: -2 (range) -2 (Move and Attack) -1 (darkness) = -5 to Guns (Pistol). He fails.

13th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and Fast-Fires five two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (RoF) -5 (Fast-Firing) = -15 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) manoeuvre and fires three two-handed sighted shots from his pistol at the door while lying on the ground: -2 (range) -1 (darkness) = -3 to Guns (Pistol). [RoF 3 is not enough to permit Suppression Fire.]

14th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and Fast-Fires five two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (RoF) -5 (Fast-Firing) = -15 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. “Mr Parker” takes an All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) manoeuvre and fires one two-handed sighted shot from his pistol at the door: -2 (range) -1 (darkness) = -3 to Guns (Pistol). [RoF 1 is not enough to permit Suppression Fire.]

15th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and Fast-Fires five two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers while getting up from his crouch: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (RoF) -5 (Fast-Firing) = -15 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. “Mr Parker” takes a  Do Nothing manoeuvre.

16th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and Fast-Fires five two-handed sighted shots with his rifle through the wall at Jeffers: -2 (range) -10 (blind) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (RoF) -5 (Fast-Firing) = -15 to Guns (Rifle). He fails. [He is empty.] “Mr Parker” takes a  Change Posture manoeuvre and gets up from lying on his back to the kneeling position.

17th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Ready manoeuvre and starts reloading his rifle, removing the empty magazine, and taking a Step to the side off the bed. “Mr Parker” takes a  Change Posture manoeuvre and gets up from the kneeling position to the standing position.

18th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Move manoeuvre. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Ready manoeuvre and tries to grab a fresh magazine, but notices that he is out of magazines, moving another Step to the side. [Note how “Mr Longabaugh” pats down his coat pockets for a spare magazine. Surely he must have known that he brought only two magazines in all? Yes, but it is actually not unrealistic for him to have forgotten that in the heat of battle. Why did he bring only two magazines in the first place? This can be explained by the relative scarcity of both the imported rifle and magazines in the USA. He also primarily used it as a marksman rifle with a scope, for which purpose two 25-round magazines would be plenty. The real reason, of course, lies in the narrative. The rifle is an overmatch weapon, and he needs to be taken down a notch.] “Mr Parker” takes a Ready manoeuvre and starts reloading his slide-locked pistol by ejecting his empty magazine.

19th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Wait manoeuvre, aiming his pistol at the door of the operating room. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Ready manoeuvre and unclips the sling of his rifle with his left hand as a free action while drawing his pistol with his right. “Mr Parker” takes a Ready manoeuvre and keeps reloading his pistol, reaching for a fresh magazine.

20th Second: Jeffers takes a Move manoeuvre. The Brothel Operator takes a Wait manoeuvre, aiming his pistol at the door of the operating room. “Mr Longabaugh” takes a Ready manoeuvre, taking off the safety of his “cocked-and-locked” pistol and changing to a two-handed a Weaver stance. “Mr Parker” takes a Ready manoeuvre and keeps reloading his pistol, inserting the magazine and hitting the slide release to let the slide snap forward, chambering a round. They are ready to go on.

 

In the film, the scene is 40 seconds long, as it cuts between showing the different characters.

Conclusion

Body armour can save you (Tactical Shooting, p. 8).

If your opponent wears body armour, you have to aim for hit locations that are not covered by it (Tactical Shooting, p. 12).

Fast semiautomatic fire can be as effective as full-automatic bursts, without the legal hassle (Tactical Shooting, p. 14).

A 7.62×51mm NATO round will go through most any interior wall (Tactical Shooting, pp. 29-30).

Do not shoot when there is nobody to shoot at. Both “Mr Longabaugh” and “Mr Parker” repeatedly ignore this, futilely expending much of their ammunition. They may think that they are suppressing the opposition, but less would have done so in most cases. In the write-up I argue that this is really Suppression Fire (pp. B409-410), despite that ordinarily requiring rapid fire at RoF 5+.

Do not shoot when you really cannot see at what you are shooting ‒ Jeff Cooper’s Safety Rule #4 (“Identify your target and what is behind it”). For all he knows, the blind fire of “Mr Longabaugh” could have easily hit their kidnap victim or in fact any other innocent bystander. As a hardened criminal, the latter might not have mattered much to him, but the former would have made their entire endeavour moot.

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: GURPS Day Summary Dec 30 – Jan 5, 2017 – Gaming Ballistic
  2. Tobias · January 8

    How can you link to that video and expect us to not see the whole shootout? 😀

    Like

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