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shot or hit? 
Posted: 29 December 2011 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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In my country, we say “firing a rifle” rather than “shooting a rifle”. Unless, for some reason, you are using a firearm on a rifle.

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Posted: 29 December 2011 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Would the act then, especially as a sport, be rifle firing or rifle shooting? The second seems more normal to me. Especially if not linked to a specific type of firearm, you go shooting, not firing, even if it is paper targets, not living creatures. Although it isn’t too strange to hear ‘they were firing on the range’ or similar.

Could we in fact say in general a fired weapon may hit someone, but a weapon shot will most likely shoot its victim or come near?

obviously the command is ‘Fire!’ not ‘Shoot!’, but ‘Shoot him!’ seems better than ‘Fire at him!’. perhaps urgency and clarity push those more than meaning?

[ Edited: 29 December 2011 06:30 AM by Noggin ]
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Posted: 29 December 2011 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Noggin, I think you are applying personal idiosyncrasies of usage to the language in general. I don’t see any great difference in meaning between firing and shooting, except that perhaps firing might be more likely to be used by a professional or someone highly trained in the use of firearms. Firing is more jargon than shooting is.

In my experience, firing off connotes haste, not necessarily indiscriminate shooting. Firing off may still be aimed, but perhaps less well. The same goes for figurative usage. When one fires off a memo, one pays little attention to the nuances of the language in it, but the memo is still addressed to someone in particular.

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Posted: 29 December 2011 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Certainly I was considering personal usage, with the hope I might improve though, or stimulate thought, not any presumption of correctness. The memo is a great example, perhaps also often indicating multiple hasty occurrences rather than just one?

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Posted: 29 December 2011 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Could we in fact say in general a fired weapon may hit someone, but a weapon shot will most likely shoot its victim or come near?

No, because the vast majority of people using those terms don’t make such a distinction. It’s clear from looking around on the web a bit that most people use those terms pretty much interchangeably and so it would be foolish to ascribe meanings that no one else is using.

We all have our own idiosyncratic flavors of meanings for words, but if those same implications aren’t widely shared, then they’re personal and nothing more, regardless of how logical or “correct” they may seem by any sort of reasoning. Language isn’t bound by the rules of logic or reason.

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Posted: 29 December 2011 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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it has struck me that perhaps the jargon meanings were based on technology at least to begin with - A muzzle loader would need to be fired, whereas a breech loader perhaps would be shot, only fired by extension. At least a frizzen and pan weapon, over a percussion cap one. Perhaps a contributor here has an example from a time when these were all contemporary, perhaps the American civil war (although certainly later in more remote wars or ones involving less well armed nations)?

[ Edited: 29 December 2011 03:00 PM by Noggin ]
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Posted: 30 December 2011 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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There’s a great deal of personal idiosyncrasy involved here. For instance Noggin speaks naturally of “shooting a rifle”—whereas I would never say “shooting a rifle” - shooting a bullet, shooting a child, yes. Shooting a rifle - no. I’d fire a rifle (if I absolutely had to). But as I say - I think it’s purely personal. There’s no question of “correct” or “incorrect” usage.

I shot a bullet in the air,
It fell to earth I know not where;
Nor, in fact, do I really care ---
It’s not my fault the child was there.

I love my gun, the gun I keep
Close by me when I go to sleep;
I love to feel it snuggling there --
It’s cuddlier than a teddy bear.

And when I fire it off for fun,
(my Constitution says I may)
And some kid happens in the way --
Tough luck! Take cover, everyone!

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Posted: 30 December 2011 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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This is my rifle.
This is my gun.
This is for shooting.
This is for fun.

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Posted: 30 December 2011 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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lionello - 30 December 2011 12:08 AM

shooting a bullet, shooting a child

I’d just like to separate myself from anyone thinking of that first, even at Christmas when we all have to resist the urge. :)

and what about a nail gun? (especially a pneumatic one) is it shot, fired or something else?

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Posted: 30 December 2011 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I’d just like to separate myself from anyone thinking of that first

The man in Reb Wlm’s original posting shot a child.

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Posted: 30 December 2011 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Nowt personal Lionello :)

I actually did some research - spoke to a few old army friends and although a very small statistical sample, came to the conclusion that among us and in our experience in general shoot rather than fire was more normal in the UK military for the act of making a weapon do its job. Jargon I suppose. What also came out was the differentiation/distinction that you can shoot someone with the definite meaning of hitting them, and not of missing which would be shoot at, but you can’t fire at someone with the same certainty of definition. views?

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Posted: 31 December 2011 04:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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What also came out was the differentiation/distinction that you can shoot someone with the definite meaning of hitting them, and not of missing which would be shoot at, but you can’t fire at someone with the same certainty of definition.

Something of apples and oranges here. To shoot and to fire are not the same thing as the phrasal verbs to shoot at and to fire at. The phrasal verbs always connotes intentionality.

One difference between the verbs is that to shoot can apply to the weapon as well as the object hit. One can shoot a gun and shoot a child. But to fire only applies to the weapon. (To fire at is, as I’ve said, something else entirely.)

I think ‘hit’ by a stray bullet, but either ‘hit’ or ‘shot’ by a sniper. ‘Hit’ seems to cover intentional and non intentional, but the ‘shot’ seems to imply the former.

I disagree. What to shoot implies (or rather places emphasis on) is the presence of a shooter, regardless of intentionality. Dick Cheney shot his hunting partner, although he did not intend to. One can be hit by a sniper, or a ricochet, or shrapnel, or even falling rubble. The difference is that hit, compared to shoot, deemphasizes the role of the causal agent, but it does not necessarily distinguish intentionality. Hit is also more general. Shoot refers to firearms, hit can be anything.

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Posted: 31 December 2011 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Difference between a short-sighted huntsman and a constipated owl:

The former shoots, but can’t hit.

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Posted: 31 December 2011 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I’ve always liked the metaphor ‘shooting from the hip’ applied to outspoken writers like Gore Vidal, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe, etc, for random potshots(?) which would be accurate for hit targets non-metaphorically unless you are the Sundance Kid leading to…
Did anyone ever really shoot from the hip or is it just cowboy mythology reinforced by Hollywood movies?

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Posted: 31 December 2011 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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... The difference is that hit, compared to shoot, deemphasizes the role of the causal agent ...

This is a good description of what I was thinking or feeling about the two words.

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