True or false? The closer you are to your target, the more effective your hit with a Taser will be. Strangely enough, it’s not true. I’ve been writing about Tasers in my police procedural novels for a few years, and only last night in the Eugene Citizen’s Police Academy did I learn how they really work. The sharp probes are fired out on very thin wires, which I knew, but they’re designed to fly at an angle.

The two probes get farther and farther apart as they travel. This is purposeful. The farther the probes are apart when they land in someone’s body, the more muscle mass is affected by the electrical disturbance. So having a probe land in the middle of your back, and one in your leg, will cause much more pain and paralysis than having two probes hit you in the chest a few inches apart.

Only the area between the probes will cramp. In addition, unless you’re a body builder, you won’t have much muscle in your chest area. The police are trained to aim for the back, which has large muscles. They also don’t want to hit your face (eyes!) or your heart. Some studies show that a Taser can affect heart rhythm, and the Eugene police would rather not take a chance on killing someone.

Another important thing I learned is that the voltage of a particular Taser cartridge is not that important, because the mechanism loses voltage as it travels. So a 50,000 volt cartridge may only have 1,250 volts when it hits a body. Also it’s the amperage of the battery that makes the difference, with more being better, as you might expect. I also learned that Tasers and stun guns are different in that stun guns need to be used in close contact.

It’s valuable information to have, and I wish I’d known this before I wrote my last book. I didn’t make any mistakes, but the details could have been better.

Readers: Have you noticed Taser errors the way authors make gun errors?
Writers: Do you use Tasers in your stories?

  1. While magical tasers can work any way you want them. I guess that’s why I write fantasy. The research on “real” stuff is way too hard.

    However, thanks for the info.

  2. Thanks for the info! This is very good to know. We had a taser in FATE’S MIRROR, only used once, and we had our character use it correctly. Whew! (The more you know…)

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