Guns and Alcohol — An Experiment

We all know guns and alcohol do not mix. But if you’ve ever wondered exactly how drinking and being drunk might affect your shooting skills, now you have a sort-of answer. This video from Polenar Tactical isn’t going to answer precisely how alcohol works on you at your size, tolerance, and skill level but it does give you an idea of what alcohol does to a shooter.

For safety’s sake, airsoft guns were used for this experiment.

guns and alcohol experiment, guys from Polenar Tactical
The guys at Polenar Tactical explain the difference between a scientific study and a casual experiment like they’re doing. (Photo Credit: Polenar Tactical)

The Experiment

Some thought did go into just how to get this experiment done. In order to make it as accurate as possible the guys at Polenar Tactical used these testing measures:

  • Sober shooting as a control test
  • Shooting tests after each drink or drinks
  • Breathalyzer prior to shooting
  • Testing for hand and eye coordination and balance
  • Precision shooting (ten shots at ten meters)
  • Dynamic shooting (Shooting from four different positions on 8 targets)
guns and alcohol experiment, sober control - shooting ten rounds at ten yards.
Sober Ziga runs through the precision portion of the shooting test before the drinking gets underway for the day. (Photo Credit: Polenar Tactical)

How it Progressed

At first, the one beer plus one Jagermeister shot combination didn’t seem to have much of an effect, which was reflected by how low his number was on his first Breathalyzer blow. His shooting remained perfectly fine.

By the time his Breathalyzer reading began to climb, his balance and hand-eye coordination testing were going downhill but his shooting remained almost unchanged. Did his shooting ever suffer? To find out how the experiment ended you’ll have to watch the entire video.

It would be interesting to see how the shooting of an inexperienced shooter would fare in a similar situation.

The Science in Drinking

According to the University of Notre Dame:

The number of drinks consumed is a very poor measure of intoxication largely because of variation in physiology and individual alcohol tolerance.

Variation exists with respect to:

  • •Body weight
  • •Sex
  • •Body fat percentage, even between genders

Neither BAC [Blood Alcohol Content] nor the number of drinks consumed are necessarily accurate indicators of the level of impairment. Tolerance to alcohol also varies from one person to another and can be affected by such factors as genetics, adaptation to chronic alcohol use, and synergistic effects of drugs.

Guns and Alcohol — The Law 

Here’s the thing. In most places, it’s illegal to have a firearm in your possession while you’re drunk. The exact definition of “drunk” depends on the location. It is technically within the law in some states to have a gun on you while you’re drinking as long as you are on your own property. But, you need to remember that if a self-defense situation were to occur while you are drunk, the prosecution is going to use the fact that you were drinking against you. It’s something to definitely keep in mind.

As always, you need to know the laws regarding guns and alcohol in your area.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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