Whether to go naked if you’re going to be shot: It depends

The question of whether one is better off being naked or clothed when being shot is not so simple as it may appear.

A 2013 study suggests that if one is going to be shot with a bullet, one might be better off naked. Another study, however, suggests that if one is going to be shot with shotgun pellets, one might be better off wearing clothing. The study is:

klatt_ec_1The effect of intermediate clothing targets on shotgun ballistics,” Kenneth Cail and Edward Klatt [pictured here], American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 2013 Dec;34(4):348-51. (Thanks to investigator Ivan Oransky for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah, Georgia, report:

“The ballistic properties of shotgun shells are complex because of multiple projectiles fired simultaneously that interact and spread out to affect their energy relayed to a human target. Intermediate targets such as clothing can affect penetration into tissues. We studied the effect of common clothing fabrics as intermediate targets on penetration of shotgun shell pellets, using ordnance gelatin to simulate soft tissue and thin cowhide to simulate skin. A standard 12-gauge shotgun with modified choke was used with no. 8 shot ammunition. We found that protection afforded by fabrics to reduce penetration of shotgun pellets into tissues was greater at increasing distance from the muzzle beyond 40 yd (36.6 m). The thicker denim and cotton fabrics provided slightly greater protection than polyester.”

BONUS (related): The 2009 Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle. REFERENCE: “Are Full or Empty Beer Bottles Sturdier and Does Their Fracture-Threshold Suffice to Break the Human Skull?” Stephan A. Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael J. Thali and Beat P. Kneubuehl, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, vol. 16, no. 3, April 2009, pp. 138-42.]

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