The greatest irony of this story comes from the author’s death. Alexander Pushkin died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound two days after being involved in a duel. His death was considered a tragic loss to Russian literature. Much of this story "The Shot" is based on Pushkin’s personal experiences when he served in the military which was required of all nobility.
The narrator of the story is also a young officer who is based in a country town where the officers drill in the morning and waste their evenings drinking and playing cards. One character whose named is given by the narrator as Silvio, an older man who retired early from the military. Silvio is highly skilled as a pistol shot who keeps up his skill by shooting holes in the walls of his room. Most of the men admire Silvio.
One of the newcomers to the regiment who is unaware of Silvio’s skills insults him. Silvio does not demand satisfaction; consequently, he loses the respect particularly of the narrator. After six more years later, Silvio receives a letter and he explains to the narrator why he did not fight a duel before.
Silvio was involved in another duel. The man he was to fight did not seem to care if he lived or died. The other man took the first shot and missed Silvio by hitting his hat. Silvio decides he will take his revenge at another time in another way.
Many years pass and the narrator left the military to take care of his family by running the estate. The place he lives is dull. A large estate sits nearby. Finally the owners come home to stay. The narrator visits them.
Ironically, the narrator visits them and discovers this is the man that Silvio was going to duel in his story. The man explains that Silvio came and the duel again was not completed. It was later learned that Silvio had died in a battle fighting for the Russian army.
Then he [Silvio] turned to go, but pausing in the doorway, and looking at the picture that my shot had passed through, he fired at it almost without taking aim, and disappeared. My wife had fainted away; he went out upon the steps, called his coachman, and drove off before I could recover myself."
In this way, I learned the end of the story, whose beginning had once made such a deep impression upon me. The hero of it I never saw again. It is said that Silvio commanded a detachment of soldiers and died in a battle.