I was unaware that point-blank may or may-not have a forensics definition of “Shot at Very Close Range”, and the linked wikipedia page cites a dead link so I can’t confirm that. Generally when a non-gunnie says the term that’s what they mean, and to some extent they are correct, but read this definition:
Point blank range is the distance a marksman can reasonably expect to fire a specific weapon hitting a specific target without further adjustment of the fixed sights.
Now on handguns (which is the gun used in the Kroger shooting) this is more-or-less true. The factory fixed sights on most handguns are set for a very close zero, of about 10-15 feet. That means you line up the sights at this range and the bullet trajectory won’t wander too far from that zero in that range or a bit beyond it. The furthest I’ve ever shot pistols with any expected results is about 25 yards, and with that you need very little hold-over, and generally no matter what my sights are set on, my skill with a pistol is not suited for those ranges.
Also as a defensive shooting I’d find it VERY hard to justify a lethal force scenario much beyond those ranges without getting into a bit of fantasy. Generally we’re talking contact to maybe 30 feet, which on most pistol sights “Point Blank”.
On a rifle things can get interesting. First with a modern rifle like an AR-15 you have a little something called “Sight Offset“. Rifles that have a stock that his more-or-less inline with the bore to control recoil and muzzle climb need to elevate their sights a few inches above the bore-line of the rifle. The AR-15 is known for having high iron sights as you can see in the link. On the linked rifle it means at very close range the rifle will print about 2 inches low because the sights are about an inch high above the rifle.
Since the bullet travels in an arc it actually RISES to the line of sight before dropping. The faster the bullet travels the flatter this arc will appear if fired on a level plane.
When zeroing my FAL for the first time I did a little research and found that if I set the zero on the gun at 100 yards using 150 grain NATO 7.62x51mm Ammo the rounds won’t stray much beyond +/- 2” from muzzle out to about 125 yards, at which point I’d need to either adjust my hold higher on the target, or crank the sight ladder up a notch, which is conveniently set in 100 meter graduations. Since I’m not doing any match target shooting with this gun, and it is generally a defensive arm, and possibly a deer rifle for Maine “Brush Hunting”, that is VERY reasonable.
This means that taking a shot with the rifle at a target inside of 125 yards I would indeed be shooting “point Blank”.
But what if I click the rear sight up one mark? Suddenly my zero will be moved to approximately 200 yards (I say approximately as I haven’t done any of the math, nor marked a page at these ranges to verify) And things start looking a LOT different.
A shot held dead-on at 100 yards will be about 2″ HIGH and suddenly “Point Blank” is at about 35 yards, and 200 yards.
Just an interesting term to think about, and also its always interesting to study bullet ballistics because most people assume when they level their sights it means the bore of their gun is also level, but in fact its canted slightly up so the bullet will rise and then fall to the point of aim.