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There is a huge amount of speculation and misunderstanding about Cheney's accidental shooting of this lawyer, some of which (the speculation) I have engaged in myself. There are baseline facts that are pretty much beyond dispute which many are unaware of. Let's clear some of them up.

"Shot", in shotgun terms, refers to the individual round lead (usually) balls loaded into shotgun shells. These range in size from the largest generally available, 000 Buck, at .36 diameter to #12 "dust" shot, at .05 diameter.
Cheney was reportedly using #7 1/2 shot, a standard quail load, which are .090 diameter (nominal).

Shells loaded with large shot (buckshot) have few individual shot, logically enough, compared to smaller shot. 6 000 Buck weigh an ounce, or an individual 000 Buck weighs 1/6 ounce. It takes about 350 #7 1/2 shot to weigh an ounce, or 2,300 #12.

Cheney was using a 28 gauge shotgun, a relatively small-bore gun. Standard field loads for the 28 gauge contain 3/4 ounce of shot, or about 275 individual #7 1/2 shot.

Shotgun barrels have a constriction at the muzzle known as a "choke" that ranges from Full choke (the tightest) to Cylinder, essentially no choke. The effect of a choke is to control how quickly the shot charge spreads after it leaves the muzzle, and it's measured at a standard 30 yards from the gun. Cheney's gun has two barrels, most likely an Improved Cylinder and a Modified. By definition, an Improved Cylinder choke will place 50% of it's shot charge within a 30" circle at 30 yards, while a Modified will put 60% there.

Most field load shotgun shells, regardless of gauge, generate a muzzle velocity of about 1,200 fps (feet per second). The primary difference between gauges is the weight of the shot charge it launches. A field-load 12 gauge shell loaded with #7 1/2 shot will launch about 400 shot compared to the 28's 275, but the individual shot will be travelling about the same velocity and have the same energy. Small shot lose velocity (and energy) relatively quickly as they move downrange, and beyond about the 30-yard mark will have slowed sufficiently to be ineffective at killing a flying quail due to their inability to penetrate significantly.

If I have left out any pertinent facts feel free to add them, but we need to separate facts from speculation.

If, in fact, the victim was struck by about 200 shot from Cheney's gun he couldn't possibly have been 30 yards from the gun.

Originally posted to The Baculum King on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:30 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yep (none)
    I think particularly since he now has shot in his heart that the range was much closer. And he wasn't "peppered" with superficial shot either as is still reported by the NYT etc... This story gets weirder & weirder.

    Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought- John F. Kennedy

    by vcmvo2 on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:38:20 PM PST

    •  Pure Speculation on my Part (4.00)
      It seems fairly clear that if he was struck by around 200 shot he must have been roughly half as far from Cheney as they claim, or about 15 yards.

      15 yards is awfully close to the 50 feet spacing hunters usually try to maintain when moving in a line to flush birds. I think they were moving on line, and Cheney had his safety off and tripped or stumbled. If I'm right the gun would have been well below shoulder level and the shot would have been travelling upward when they hit the lawyer.

      •  9 meters was in some early reports (none)
        And the more people pick this over, 9 meters fits the facts better than 30 yards.

        We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

        by Fabian on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:33:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Speculating is what we're left with (none)
        As this story just gets stranger. Since they weren't honest about it to begin with & that time lag lends reasonable people to try to come up with a sensible narrative. They bring this on themselves by being so secretive. How on earth did they think they could control this story? See this is where I disagree with "Rove is a Genius" theme. This was strictly Amateur Hour.

        Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought- John F. Kennedy

        by vcmvo2 on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:57:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (none)
    Thank you.  Now send it to the morons on FOX who kept saying "BB's".

    -6.13, -4.46 * 2267 *

    by BDA in VA on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:41:00 PM PST

  •  thanks, quite handy (none)
    Any sources?
    •  Well, For the Numbers (none)
      this has good charts...

      Beyond the raw numbers I have almost 40 years of experience with almost everything that shoots and isn't classified as artillery, and a lifelong interest in things that go "bang". I tried to leave opinions out and just present the basic, unassailable facts, which are the same for everybody in the Reality-based Community.

      The official explanation is science fiction: at 30 yards Cheney's best barrel would put about 165 shot in a 30" circle with an aimed shot at a still target, it's simply not capable of putting anywhere close to 200 in the head, neck and upper chest of a man at that distance with a single shot.

  •  thank you. (none)
    I've read on several other comments/ diaries that the originally reported 30 feet, not 30 yards is the far more likely scenario, perhaps even closer range than that.

    Could you answer a question for me thought.  As a non hunter, I am unclear why there would be an attempt to hide the distance of the shot.

    Does this imply a far more egregious error on Cheney's part?  and I don't mean as far as the injuries.  Obviously shooting Whittington at closer range means more damage, but why would claiming that he was much further away be in the VPs best interest?

    I was wondering if it is a legal issue.  The accident report on Smoking Gun has a series of check boxes on it for distance shooter is from victim.  The first box is less than 10 yds, the second box (which is checked in this instance) is 11-50 yds, 51-100 and then additional boxes with higher numbers.

    I'm wondering if there is a law in Texas that requires any hunting accident in closer range than say 10yds automatically requires closer investigation.  I know this is pure speculation, but I just can't figure out why the VP is trying to hide the shot distance.  From what the experianced hunters on here and elsewhere have said, its pretty obvious that the shot is far closer than 30yds.  Anyone out there know?

    •  I Think it was the Best Bullshit They Could Do (4.00)

      Probably the least egregious possible way to shoot your hunting partner (which is impossible to do without at least one HUGE mistake) is their preferred scenario, and they know that most media people (and most Americans) don't know the difference.

      Personally, I would probably have tried to blame it on a dog during a fence crossing or something if I was going to lie about it, but I don't think they were using dogs (which means pen-raised quail released to be shot).

      •  I agree. (none)
        The further away it is, the more potentially forgivable or understandable a mistake is.

        If you accidentally shoot someone 100 feet away who might have been hiding under brush and "didn't announce" himself, a sympathetic observer might say, what a tragic accident, there for the grace of god go I.

        If on the otherhand, if you shoot someone from 9 meters or 25 to 30 feet in violation of the "safe fire zone" on a quail shooting line, it looks far less sympathetic, and much more like criminal negligence.

        Early reports were clearly being PR manipulated.  Things like  "Whittington was barely hurt, had broken formation, was way back, maybe in a gulley, didn't announce himself, was far away, noone was drinking for the whole day before in that part of the state etc.

        Good work Baculum King et. al.

  •  Is it common to hunt that close to dusk? (none)
    The shooting occurred at 5:50 PM. We'll have to take their word for it. Sunset was about 6:18 PM. The weather was partly cloudy and fairly windy and the sun would have been fairly low at that time. It would seem that visibility would not have been that great, especially for small game and old eyes. I won't even speculate if alcohol was involved. However, if it was, it certainly wouldn't help the situation. It would explain why they set the interview with sheriff's police 14 hours later though.
  •  there is a video up (none)
    done by a Corpus Christi reporter which purports to show 200 shot impacting an area the size of the chest neck head at 30 yards.

    An election does not make a democracy.

    by seesdifferent on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:37:30 PM PST

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