Being in the Fight
Gun owners who take serious considerations about their safety and home defense often attempt to train in a dynamic way. To prepare and ready themselves for any violent event that may happen in their lives. This includes undertaking a variety of different tactics, techniques, and training to become as ready as possible for a life threatening event.
Often this training can cover some of the more difficult physical aspects of combat and shooting, and what and how to use the body to the best of it’s ability. While the physical aspects can be conquered in the relative safety of a training environment, the mental aspects are another thing altogether. Trying to replicate the actual body’s reaction when faced with a life or death situation is very difficult to do without putting someone at risk. However with the advent of the war on terrorism we have a new generation of veterans and a modern scientific method has allowed researchers to build a base of knowledge on the body’s response to a gunfight.
The body will go through a process as the mind transitions to it’s method of coping with a fight. The body will revert to the bare basics of survival and dedicate the mind towards fighting. You will experience a loss of your fine motor skills, which are critical when it comes to handling a weapon. Your fingers specifically will lose a lot of function.
Your hands will feel heavier as they fill with blood, which will make them heavier and hard to use. This is to make your hands better for a fist fight, and can act against you in a gunfight. Simply put evolution designed our hands to fist fight, from their design and proportions, as well as their response to a fight. Humans have been fighting with their bare hands for millenniums, and with guns for only a few centuries.
Muscle memory and practice, practice, practice is what it takes to overcome the loss of fine motor skills. The necessary memorization of how your weapon works, from the safety, to trigger pull, to magazine releases, slide locks, and so on and so forth. Training can be rapidly practicing using your handgun in a live fire event, or even going over the weapon’s operation at home while watching TV.
Your eyes are one of the most valuable tools you have in a gunfight, and that should go without saying. However your mind is going to be focusing on what it perceives to be the most dangerous threat in front of it. Your vision will narrow and focus only on the threat. In fact it is not uncommon for someone in danger to focus more on their opponents weapons than the opponent themselves. The focus on solely one threat in a phenomenon called tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision is deadly situation in which you can find yourself ignoring the world around you. The world around you can still be a dangerous place. For example if you find yourself in self defense situation you may have fired and struck an attacker and not realize the attacker has a friend, sibling, or significant other to your right, left, or behind you who isn’t happy. Another factor is you may not see the fact the police have arrived and you still have your gun in your hand. This goes hand in hand with auditory exclusion which we’ll cover next.
To remediate this tunnel vision one needs to build a scan into their ability. You can practice even on a basic square range of basically scanning left and right. This can help build the scan into your everyday shooting ability, and insure you simply do it from habit.
Auditory exclusion is a very real event that can happen once your adrenaline is pumping and your life is on the line. I have a lot of personal experience with this during my time in Afghanistan. In fact my first firefight I experienced a healthy dose of auditory exclusion and my own example shows the wide variety of different effects in can have.
Personally I could not hear my weapon, a M249, fire, I could feel the recoil, see the muzzle blast, but I couldn't hear it. I could however hear my squad leader issuing orders, telling me to shift fire, or move. This was unique to me, and my father, an experienced hunter, claims he has never heard a shot he fired while hunting.
How do you beat auditory exclusion? Well, first off you really can’t force your ears to work. You see it just doesn’t work that way. So you need to make a conscious attempt to listen to the world around you, or use your eyes to make up for your lack of hearing.
As your body and mind dedicate themselves to survival your mind will not dedicate itself to remembering things in the perfect order. In fact your entire perception of time and space can be challenged. There are plenty of cases of revolvers shooters pulling the trigger on an empty weapon, simply because they could not keep track of the rounds they fired.
The dangerous portion of this perception screw up is it all happens after the fact, in that time you are talking to the police. You see you make a terrible witness to your own self defense shooting. So in the aftermath of a self defense shoot you should just be quiet. Do not answer questions regarding the shoot, in fact the less you say the better. The main statement you should make is simply, “i want to call my lawyer.” Never talk yourself into a jail cell.
These are some of the basic explanations of what the body can go through in a self-defense, fight for your life scenario. You may go through all of them, or none of them at all. It’s a bodies reaction, but it’s never predictable. Be ready, be stable, and keep training.