How It Feels To Be Shot

Anybody who has ever seen an action movie has wondered how it feels to be shot. In some cases the person drops like a rock. In others they shake it off and say “just a flesh wound”. Of course these are just movies. There are plenty of real people we can ask about this experience. Some are haunted by it for the rest of their lives. In this article I will review several examples of different people shot in different situations and in different areas of the body.

The face during a robbery

Yes, we are going to start off with one of the most scary and gruesome places to be shot. In this case the woman was coming home with her son and husband. She was also pregnant at the time. While entering the house a man came around the corner and demanded her money. Her husband was already inside, and when he heard the commotion he slammed the door against the assailant. As he stumbled backwards he fired at the husband and missed him striking the woman in the face.

She was struck in the nose and the exit wound was just behind her ear. She recalled that she did not even realize that she had been shot until she felt the searing pain from the exit wound. Then she felt the blood running into her mouth and down her back. At that point she feared for her life. She remained conscious until it was time for surgery at the hospital. The woman made a full recovery and says you can barely tell she was shot. Her baby was fine and she has completely gotten over the incident.

The back and the arm during combat

I have always imagined that being shot in combat would be twice as scary because of all the commotion around you. This man was stationed in Afghanistan and was exchanging fire with some nationals. He had just watched his brother in arms get shot and killed when he himself was hit. He was frozen on the ground and conscious for seven minutes feeling extreme pain. He felt like his insides had been ripped from his body, and he was sure he was going to die. Between the blood, the screaming, and the fear that the national would finish him off he had little hope. It turns out that man did attempt to finish him off, but another US solider took him out first.

His initial reaction was to try to scream. He thought over and over that he did not want to die. The man’s thoughts progressed to prayer and a hope that there is an afterlife. As he started fading in and out of consciousness he accepted death and the pain faded. He even wished for death as he thought about his family and friends. His squad leader slapped him in the face to keep him awake. He was carried out of the area and loaded onto a Blackhawk helicopter. The man woke up a week later in the hospital thinking he had been captured by the enemy.

The shoulder during combat

This was a very different account from our last soldier. This man was also in Afghanistan, but had just been hit by an IED. The shoulder shot came afterwards. He recalled feeling no pain and more so being focused on if he had lost his leg in the blast. The man realized he still had his leg, but both it and his wrist were not working properly. He had just seen eight other soldiers killed, so getting out alive was his main focus. He crawled to safety and got picked up by a medevac. There was no pain until he made it to the base.

Once back at the hospital he experienced some of the worst pain of his life. He was on heavy pain medication for a while, but had to get off of them to leave the hospital. Once he stopped the meds, the pain was almost unbearable.

The face, arm, and butt on three separate occasions

The reasons or situations for these shootings was not described, but it makes you wonder. The first shooting was in the back of the arm when he was a teenager. He said it was the worst burning sensation he had experienced. However, the shock of the situation was a bigger blow and he lost all coordination and became weak.

The second shooting was a shotgun blast to the butt with bird shot and rock salt. The particles were so small that they could not be removed, and he had to wait for them to work themselves out. Ouch. He described the blast as a firm push from behind.

The last one was a .45 caliber to the face. He described no pain but said it felt like a punch to the face. It did some permanent damage to his lower lip and left him with a speech impediment. Overall he said being stabbed hurt worse than any of the three gunshot wounds.

The ear over a domestic dispute

In this situation a woman was with her boyfriend and some other friends playing poker. Her boyfriend got jealous and started slapping her around. One of the other guys grabbed her and ran for the door. The boyfriend got a gun and came outside. After some arguing he fired at her and hit her in the ear.

There was not much pain but a great deal of blood. Her ear had to be reconstructed after the incident. She also has some hearing loss to this day.

The back of the head during a robbery

This man was in his home when several men with guns entered. They walked him around the house asking for his valuables. They then asked him if he had any rope. He found a hammer and swung at one of the men missing completely. The assailants dropped him to his knees execution style and fired one .40 caliber round through the back of his head. The bullet entered below his left ear and exited at the base of his neck.

Everything was in slow motion and the shot was painless. There was a big bang and then everything was quiet. He did not feel himself hit the floor face first, but did feel the vibrations from the burglars slamming the door as they left. His initial thoughts were that everything appeared diagonal from how it normally appeared. He saw blood on his white carpet and thought that there was going to be some cleaning to do.

The man got to his feet and made it to his phone to call for help. This is when the pain set it. It was a burning sensation. He said it felt like a wide cut from which his personality and memories were flowing. He began to get cold and felt wet all over. Our victim felt that what he was and what he would be were flowing from the wound. The man told the operator that he had been shot in the head in a desperate tone as he choked on his own blood. To this day he still has to listen to the recording of that call to remember what he said.

The chest accidentally by a teen

This man was also young when he was shot. The kids were messing around with a gun when it went off in his direction. He took the shot directly to his breastplate and stumbled backwards. If the bullet had hit half an inch in any direction he would have been killed instantly. His initial feeling was numbness, but he instantly thought he would die. The pain did not start until he looked down to confirm he had been shot.

As he lied on the ground the pain came in waves. He watched blood pump out of the hole in his chest, but still remained calm. He saw the other boys in a panic and thought that staying calm was the best move to make. Everything was in slow motion as he waited for help to arrive.

The hand wanting to know how it felt

This was an odd story, but I can see a teenager being curious. This boy had built a black powder rifle and had target practiced a few times. Then he had the thought that it would be good to know what it felt like to be shot. He built another gun, but with much smaller bullets. Without hesitation he shot himself in the middle of the palm of his left hand.

Within a few seconds he felt extreme pain but could not scream or his parents would find out what he had done. The bullet did not exit the other side, and there was not much blood. His hand went numb and he started to get sleepy.

The thought entered his mind that he might lose his hand, but he had not hit anything vital. The wound was infected, but he just toughed it out and took some penicillin. Guns were illegal in his country at the time, so he left the bullet in his hand. It took him a year to get full function of his hand again, and he still has the bullet embedded to this day.

The calf during a terrorist attack

The man in this story remembers being in a panic with adrenaline pumping through his veins. He was running full speed when he felt a small sting in his lower leg. The pain was not horrible, and it did not keep him from running. He knew that terrorists were shooting, so he assumed that he had been shot.

After he made it to safety he sat down to check his leg and there was an entrance and exit wound on his calf. Right then a severe cramp developed all around the wound that was unbearable. Once he made it to the hospital, he had to be on morphine for 10 days to deal with the pain.

The stomach during combat

This marine was shot during the battle for Marjah in Afghanistan. He was trying to hop a gap when he was hit just below his body armor. He instantly thought he was going to die as the round hit him “like a sledgehammer”. He tried to resume fighting but realized that his body was no longer functioning. He had no control over his limbs.

The pain was unbearable as he writhed in the dirt and squeezed anything he could find to distract himself from the pain. He screamed in agony and his fellow soldiers called for help. The man felt the warm blood pouring all over his body, but when he rolled over to look at the wound he lost consciousness. The rest of his section fought off the Taliban and got the marine to safety.

The foot accidentally by his father

In this story the man was just a seven year old boy living in Colorado. His father had been out target practicing with his .22 caliber long rifle. As he came inside the gun went off and shot the boy in the foot. It was a through shot and embedded in the concrete below their linoleum. Before he knew it he was airborne and then slamming to the ground. He rolled around screaming from the pain.

The boy’s family calmed him down and wrapped a towel around his foot as they left for the hospital. At this point there was only a dull pain, and he had stopped crying. Once at the hospital he had to have surgery to repair the bone. The boy missed fireworks for the 4th of July and was in a cast for eight weeks. He made a full recovery and has just a scar to remember the incident.

As you can see the experiences that people have after being shot are very different. Some are in ridiculous pain, and some do not feel much. Some are calm, and some are panicked. Being shot is never a good thing, but these stories remind us that you can certainly survive a shooting. In fact in many cases our victims made a full recovery and have all but forgotten the experience. The one thing we can learn from these accounts is that trying to stay calm is always the best move. If you remain calm and have some luck on your side, you will make it out just fine.

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About Ryan Dotson

Ryan Dotson
My name is Ryan Dotson and I am a survivalist, prepper, writer, and photographer. I grew up in the Ozark Mountains and in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. My interest in survival started when I was in Boy Scouts and continued as my father, uncle, and grandfather taught me to hunt and fish. In the last few years I have started taking on survival challenges and have started writing about my experiences. I currently live in Mid-Missouri with my wife Lauren and three year old son Andrew.

2 comments

  1. Avatar

    What does the guy under “The face, arm, and butt on three separate occasions” do or what does he consistently and voluntarily get himself into?

  2. Avatar
    Cotter W. Sayre

    Interesting stories! One thing, in the story “The foot accidentally by his father”; a .22LR would never become “embedded in the concrete”, but it would definitely become imbedded BETWEEN the linoleum and the concrete (as a child, he would not have known the difference.)

    Also, why would he become “airborne”? That simply defies all the laws of physics, and is just not possible whether hit with a .22LR or a .44 Magnum (except in the movies!).

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