In the United States, a unit of liquid capacity used for hard spirits. In mixing drinks, a shot is measured by small glasses (“shot glasses”), which are also used for serving beverages such as whiskey. Shot glasses themselves are not graduated and are produced in various sizes.¹ Today the shot usually = 1½ U.S. fluid ounces (about 44 milliliters), perhaps best demonstrated by the government choosing that size in its dietary guidelines: “1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits count as one drink for purposes of explaining moderation”². A pony shot, or short shot, is 1 U.S. fluid ounce, which is the serving size required by law in the state of Utah. A double shot is usually smaller than 3 fluid ounces.

Although there are laws and regulations defining serving sizes, we know of no law that uses the term “shot”.

1. A collector's site,, illustrates the variety.

2. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005.

Chapter 9.


A unit of length used for anchor chain on ships, = 15 fathoms = 90 feet. Anchor chains for ships are made up of 15-fathom lengths of chain joined by detachable links. The joins are distinctively marked so that a ship's officer can estimate at a glance how much chain is out.

In the merchant marine, the detachable links are painted red. At 15 fathoms, the end of the first shot, the two links on either side of the detachable link are painted white, and 1 turn of wire is wound around the stud of the link on either side of the detachable link. At 30 fathoms, the 2 links on either side of the detachable link are painted white, and 2 turns of wire are put on the second stud on either side of detachable link, and so on for the remaining shots.

In the merchant marine, in the command to let go the anchor the amount to be played out is given in shots; in the Navy it is given in fathoms.¹

1. Merchant Marine Officer's Handbook, 6th ed.
Cornell Maritime Press, 1965.

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