Week of March 14 , 2021

Bullet Points


The term “sniper” to describe professional sharpshooters originates in colonial India. British soldiers stationed there found it very challenging to hunt the snipe, a well-camouflaged wading bird which flies in unpredictable patterns. Hence the term “sniper” came to indicate shooters skilled in the marksmanship and camouflaging needed for a successful snipe hunt.


Shotguns typically spray pellets rather than firing a single bullet, so taking a “shotgun approach” alludes to a broad-based “see what hits” strategy instead of a focused one.


No reputable casino will let you play “Russian roulette,” a term that denotes taking a chance with a deadly risk. This terrifying “game” involves putting a single bullet into the cylinder of a revolver, which is then spun (like a roulette wheel) to lose track of the bullet before pointing the gun at one’s own head or another’s. If the cylinder holds six bullets, there is a 1/6 chance of firing the bullet when the trigger is pulled.


Acting prematurely has been called “jumping the gun” since the 18th Century in reference to racers taking off before the starting gun was fired.


Were you actually armed when you last hopped in the passenger seat to “ride shotgun”? This term came from the protective passenger, indeed armed with a shotgun, who sat next to the driver in horse-driven wagons of the old American west to ward of would-be attacks. Notably, however, this term for the practice came about shortly after the stagecoach era, helped by Hollywood.


A person energized for any challenge, especially a confrontation, is sometimes described as “loaded for bear.” This refers to the powerful weapons and ammunition you’d need for such a large, possibly deadly animal.


Someone speaking or working in a cavalier or impulsive way is said to be “shooting from the hip.” This is because firing a holstered gun near your hip may help you fire faster than aiming with the sights, but at the expense of accuracy.