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“Shoot Him In The Kidneys”… Are you F–king Kidding Me, Willis?


Apparently there is some mall-ninja bad-ass-wannabe out there in cyberland, tapping away at  his keyboard in his Mommy’s basement, making claims that snipers should deliberately target the kidneys of their targets. I’ve run across references to this claim here and there, but this morning I was blown away by the following email:

Dr. Williams:

I am a nursing student  and one of my assignments is to explain why a sniper would want to shoot the kidneys (keeping the focus on the short term). My research has revealed that hemorrhage and pain are the major reasons to target the kidneys directly, with cavitation of the abdominal cavity as a secondary effect. If you have any input on the matter it would be greatly appreciated.


Yep. That’s a real email. Somebody actually sent that to me. I won’t print the writer’s name, in case he isn’t just some internet whack-job, but is actually a real nursing student who is honestly seeking knowledge. But I will print my reply to this young seeker of knowledge:


I have no idea who would advise making the kidneys a target for snipers. It makes no physiological or tactical sense whatsoever, and as such I suspect it’s a fiction made up by poseurs who have little or no tactical training and almost certainly no actual killing experience, either animal or human. 

Military snipers train to incapacitate their targets with a single shot. Incapacitation on the battlefield is highly congruent with rapid death of the target. Centerfire rifle bullets are designed to produce incapacitating injury as quickly as possible. Incapacitation by GSW entails putting the bullet into the primary or secondary target anatomy. The primary target is the CNS, and the secondary target is the cardiovascular system that supports the CNS. The kidneys are part of neither. The kidneys are small, deep in the body, and in anatomic locations that medically-untrained snipers would have significant difficulty visualizing in the 3D human body. As such, deliberately targeting the kidneys is so far from practicable I actually laughed out loud in disbelief when I first read your email. 

Let me be perfectly clear: shooting an enemy combatant anywhere other than the CNS/CV bundle target zones would be, first, a failure to fulfill the tactical mission (incapacitate your target asap), and second, wanton cruelty. This is at best comic-book mall-ninja material, and should be rejected out of hand. 

I strongly urge you to tell whoever gave you this “assignment” that it is nonsense and should be rejected as complete and utter bovine excrement.

Sincerely, etc. 

Now, I do not believe that J.A. is actually a nursing student, nor that s/he was given this assignment by an instructor. I expect that in most non-violent gun-free-zone universities in the USA today, giving such an assignment would get an instructor shit-canned by the Dean of Faculty in record time.

But since there are untrained wannabes running around the internet advocating “the kidney shot” as a legitimate tool for the tactical toolbox, let me underscore my letter, above, once again:  THIS IS UTTER BULLSHIT.

J.A., tell your pals to buy a copy of my book and read it. If you have any questions when you’ve done that, I strongly urge you to go down to your nearest U.S.M.C. recruiting office and enlist. Complete a 4-year tour of duty, and when you get back home if you have any further questions feel free to come to one of my classes and ask me face to face. Until then, stop propagating bullshit.   

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