Is it possible to "Shoot your eye out"?

Never allowed near guns, I was always told, " You’ll shoot your eye out!!" Is it really possible? After all, the bullet would go IN the eye, not pop it out, right?


I think “shoot out” here is being used in the sense of “to make nonfunctioning.” As in, “shoot out the lights.”

I have always thought that ‘putting an eye out’ was meant more to indicate that the eye would cease to function rather than describing its (relatively intact) relocation.

Having said that, I am sure there are numerous accounts of situations where both uses of the phrase would apply…I am doubtful that many, if any, of those situations involved a firearm.

:wink: (Smilie with an eye put out)

I have seen photos (on a medical prosthesis site) of a man who sustained an accidental gunshot to the face. (He was all healed up, so the pic was not gross, just a little disturbing at first.) He was missing both his eyes, his nose, and part of his forehead. So basically picture a “blank” face with a mouth (he had a mustache), a hole above that like a big nostril, and just skin above, slightly indented. The skin part (where his eyes and nose used to be) had little magnets sticking out that held the eyes-and-nose prosthesis.

Amazing that someone could survive that, but apparently yes, it can be done. (Kids, PLEASE don’t try this at home!)

It is certainly possible to injure your eye with a low powered BB gun but I can’t imagine it happening with a firearm (real gun). If you take a low-powered, kids BB gun and shoot it at a hard (probably metal or concrete) object at close range then the BB will bounce back and possibly hit you in the eye if you are really unlucky. I fired tens of thousands of BB’s at all kinds of weird things when I was a kid and only has a few bounce back and hit me and none came close to my eye.

So, even though it is probably possible, I have never heard of it happening in real life.

BTW, the reason that I say it won’t happen with a firearm is that only a complete idiot would fire a firearm into a hard, solid object at close range. If you go around doing that, your eyes should be the least of your concerns.

Not a gun story, but I’m sure those who shoot rubberbands at people have also heard this warning. Lo and behold, one of my friends managed to damage her retina while attempting this feat (she can see fine now, but had to have surgery). So, i would suppose this can happen with guns as well.

For whatever it’s worth, here are a couple of true-life horror stories:

1.) A coworker came to the office one Monday looking terribly depressed. The neighbor kid had pounded on his front door one afternoon that weekend and, when my friend answered, he at first thought that the boy was having a bad drug experience: he was unable to speak, his eyes were rolling up into his head (like the phrase “put your eye out” this is, of course, meant figuratively), and blood was gushing from his nose. It turned out that a pellet from a BB gun had ricocheted (spelling?) up a nostril and penetrated his brain.

No kidding, those things really are as dangerous as all hell in the hands of a kid–or in the hands of a lot of adults, for that matter.

2.) The Disney Corporation was once sued by the parents of a kid who “put his eye out” after watching The Mickey Mouse Club. A sound effects man had showed the Mousketeers how one could simulate the sound of a car running on a flat tire by rattling a ball bearing around inside a balloon. The kid had decided to try it at home, and overlooked the part about wearing protective goggles as a precaution in case the balloon burst.

If memory serves, they didn’t collect.

One of Jean Shepard’s best stories is about a kid who longs to have a BB gun for Christmas, but is continually told he will put his eye out. (George Carlin once observed that putting one’s eye out, breaking one’s neck and catching pneumonia were things he was continually warned about as a child). Eventually he is allowed the gun anyway, and he very nearly blinds himself the first time he tries it; he stands too close to the target, which he has set against a concrete step.

This incident is worked into the plot of A Christmas Story, a movie released in 1983. Peter Billingsley played the little boy, Darren McGavin was the father who allowed him the gun against his better judgment, and Shepard acted as narrator, portraying the Billingsley character many years later.

I dimly recall that sometime around 1959 or 60, when I was a very small child, a neighbor kid nearly did the same favor for me with his BB gun. He came from a family that could fairly be called…unusual; they all went barefoot during most parts of the year, and they all had webbed toes. Several of them went on to become St. Louis policemen.


you beat me to the “christmas story”…here I was reading the posts and thought…tell them to rent “A Chrismas Story” a very cute story and a christmas tridition in the willow fire house hold and low and behold the very last post beat me to it…

well great minds think alike:D

A kid from my childhood neighborhood had his eye "put out"by another while playing war with bb guns.

Do kids still play War?Probably not,but to boomers the war pics and cowboys were about the same.

And lest you think these were just dumb kids; my neighborhood was a rough one from cap pistols to bb guns to the real Mcoy.We played hopscotch wth real scotch,broad jumped with real broads. :slight_smile:

A friend of mine served in Vietnam in the 2nd Marines and had some interesting experiences in the bush, “interviewing” captured VC. One interview technique involved strapping the guy to a chair and politely asking pertinent questions. Apparently many of these guys were less than forthcoming with the desired intelligence…

One technique that was allegedly used with the recalcitrant types was to stand behind them with a Colt Model 1911A with muzzle held at a glancing angle to the lateral eye socket. When the trigger was pulled the eyeball often was literally “shot out.” Interestingly enough the interviewee usually lived, at least for a while… After the second eye was shot out in this manner, the guy was obviously blind. As my friend put it, that’s when they “really laid into him…”

So yes, you can literally “shoot an eye out” if that’s what you want to do.

My mother knew a boy who put out his eyes by playing with matches, or was it running with scissors?

And she also personally knew several children who caught their Death Of Cold through not wearing shoes and socks.

This is true. My mother would not lie to me.


I fired thousands of BBs as a kid, like Shagnasty, and had a few ricochet back on me. Once, one did ricochet off of my glasses. It didn’t leave a mark on my lens, so I don’t know how close it was to my eye. But it did spook me, make me more careful about what I shot at, and for once grateful that I wore the damn things.