How to decrease startle response?

This is a discussion on How to decrease startle response? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm asking primarily because my soon to be wife is very interested in carrying and now that I bought an M&P shield we have a ...

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Thread: How to decrease startle response?

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    Member Array natimage's Avatar
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    How to decrease startle response?

    I'm asking primarily because my soon to be wife is very interested in carrying and now that I bought an M&P shield we have a nice firearm for her to carry. My concern is that she is very easily startled and I'm concerned that if the need arose she would freeze and not be able to act, or would act after it's too late. I also get startled of course but start processing things quicker afterwards than she does but I would like to work on my own too. So any ideas how to turn the startle into action, or decrease the startle response altogether?
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    Senior Member Array Sig35seven's Avatar
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    Sneak up on her, especially in the dark and go..."BOO" or "LOOK OUT!" or "GOTCHA".

    Do it frequently and maybe she will get used to it and calm down. Have her do the same to you. Try this with empty guns at first.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig35seven View Post
    Sneak up on her, especially in the dark and go..."BOO" or "LOOK OUT!" or "GOTCHA".

    Do it frequently and maybe she will get used to it and calm down. Have her do the same to you. Try this with empty guns at first.
    Might want to try this before the wedding. It will be more expensive to fix afterwards.

    Seriously though, I'm not sure that's something that is fixable. I could be wrong. But folks seem to be hardwired to act or freeze up. I'm the type to act immediately. But for some reason my wife caught me off guard the other day and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Scared me to death. So everyone is susceptible to it on some level. I'm just not so sure this is a self help fix.
    I prefer to live dangerously free than safely caged!

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    You cannot eliminate it and I don't know if you would want to. You can train to work with it and through it but I feel it is one of those things that helps keep us alive in a tight spot.
    Last edited by tacman605; May 8th, 2012 at 02:51 PM.
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    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    Member Array mfcmb's Avatar
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    Everyone startles when they are truly surprised. All you can do is: (1) try to be more generally aware so you're less often surprised, and (2) practice making startles a trigger for action (such as moving aside, etc.) so that you can recover quickly from being startled.
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    As has been discussed on here many times.....training, training and more training, until it becomes a reflex action instead of something she has to think about.
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    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    This maybe is not the solution but what my wife and I do is place a timer somewhere and set it for sometime that day. Then when it goes off it is a complete surprise. You need to draw and aim toward the timer. Does it help with a true shock like a BG jumping out behind a wall? Not really. But it does help train you to react to certain stimunli.
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    VIP Member Array First Sgt's Avatar
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    A GOOD two day defensive pistol/fighting pistol/tactical pistol course, from a REPUTABLE trainer, which gives her the confidence to run her weapon in a self defense situation, should be just the thing to get her over/through the startle response. And, while she's at it, YOU take the course too! JMO
    Sometimes in life you have to stand your ground. It's a hard lesson to learn and even most adults don't get it, but in the end only I can be responsible for my life. If faced with any type of adversity, only I can overcome it. Waiting for someone else to take responsibility is a long fruitless wait.

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    The startle response is nature's way of preparing us for fight or flight. Consider what happens when you're suddenly being passed the "Hot" potato. You turn to face the threat. You drop your center of gravity to spring into action or explode off the "X". In an instant your hands reach to catch or parry what's coming at you. The startle is a reaction, a reaction to an event beyond your ability to plan a defense. Your instinct momentarily trumps self control, because the event happens too fast or is too close.

    In CQB, sometimes the gun is not the solution. Some H2H training may be better suited to react to the startle. As in the "hot" potato example, once the hands are open for the "Catch", startle turns into surprise.

    Surprise is easier to deal with. You can order your OODA loop to turn reaction into action. After catching the "hot" potato you are in control. It would be tempting to hurl it back and "bean" the offending friend with it. If the startle at close range comes from an armed attacker, your survival depends on turning the startle into surprise quickly, so your mindset and training can kick in.

    We all startle under the right situations. It might be easier to try to avoid those situations. The key is SA.
    WHEC724, The Dark, suntzu and 1 others like this.
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    Member Array scott625's Avatar
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    Is she generally aware of her surroundings?

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    Member Array lyz_grace's Avatar
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    My husband is naturally "jumpier" than I am. He's the one that will almost come out of his seat at the scary part of the movie you know has been coming for the past minute and a half because of the still camera and scary music. When someone cuts in front of us his reaction is the hit the brakes with his hands glued to the wheel, whereas mine is usually laying on the horn and then yelling some choice words. I think some people are just more "fight" and some are more "flight." In different situations, I think either of these could either save your life or get you in a lot of trouble.

    Quote Originally Posted by suntzu View Post
    This maybe is not the solution but what my wife and I do is place a timer somewhere and set it for sometime that day. Then when it goes off it is a complete surprise. You need to draw and aim toward the timer. Does it help with a true shock like a BG jumping out behind a wall? Not really. But it does help train you to react to certain stimunli.
    That sounds like an awesome idea!!

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    Distinguished Member Array AKsrule's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by natimage View Post
    I'm asking primarily because my soon to be wife is very interested in carrying and now that I bought an M&P shield we have a nice firearm for her to carry. My concern is that she is very easily startled and I'm concerned that if the need arose she would freeze and not be able to act, or would act after it's too late. I also get startled of course but start processing things quicker afterwards than she does but I would like to work on my own too. So any ideas how to turn the startle into action, or decrease the startle response altogether?
    YAH , gonna be lots of jokes...

    It's really a good subject for discussion though.

    Every individual has different Emotional and Reflex levels..
    Sometimes there are physical reasons for tension /anxiety - sometimes it's all Mental.

    IMHO - professional instruction CAN help create confidence and also make proper responses to threats easier.

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    Member Array CeltKnight's Avatar
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    Remember, response time is decided by:
    1. Perception of the threat: (Is that a threat?/I think this is a threat.)
    2. Analysis/confirmation of the threat: (Yes, this is a threat! What sort of threat is it?"
    3. Formulation of response to the threat: (This is what I'll do [no, this! {wait! No, THIS!}]).
    4. Execution of the response to the threat: (Run/Fight)

    We're not just Fight or Flight, we're Fight, Flight, or Freeze. The Freeze happens when there is a "short circuit" between any of the above steps. The most effective way to help ensure that doesn't happen is indeed training. Formulate some pre-planned, practiced responses to general threats (running away is a plan and is often the best plan where it can be done). Something as simple as -- Threat=Run. If you can't run fight/draw-fire -- will help, over time, smooth things out and speed her up a bit. Maybe later add -- Weapon=Draw/fire/evade --- But complex movements like that require mastery of gross motor responses first.

    It won't happen over night. It may not happen fast enough for you, but be patient, be reassuring, be positive and she'll get there. Also, in a TRUE emergency, she might surprise you. :)

    .... Just my $.02

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    Member Array protek's Avatar
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    Perhaps she needs to work on her SA.

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    Ex Member Array barstoolguru's Avatar
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    she need to shave the hair on the back of her neck; if it doesn't stand up you can't get scared....lol

    like others said she needs to be more SA and not be so into what she is doing. this is something a lot of woman have problems with


    This maybe is not the solution but what my wife and I do is place a timer somewhere and set it for sometime that day. Then when it goes off it is a complete surprise. You need to draw and aim toward the timer. Does it help with a true shock like a BG jumping out behind a wall? Not really. But it does help train you to react to certain stimunli.
    we/I do this with my IPhone; it has a timmer on it that you can set with out looking at it so it is a total suprise when it goes off to you an every one else

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