Shooting Under Stress
I am new to firearms. But given recent times, I felt it was necessary to arm myself and get trained. I bought an M&P9c for concealed carry, took the appropriate course, and applied for my carry permit here in Colorado. I should have it in early February.
In the mean time I have been spending as much time as I can afford at the range - usually twice per week with 100 rounds per trip. All target shooting so far. Have read and watched a lot online for proper technique and my accuracy has been steadily improving.
I have also read here and elsewhere about how under the stress of a life threatening situation that accuracy deteriorates rapidly. But even though I understood it from an intellectual standpoint, I just couldn't imagine how anyone could miss a large target at close range in any situation (i.e. I could see missing a bullseye but not center mass of a body).
Well I had an eye opener last night. I took my first formal pistol course given locally by some ex special ops guys. I am pretty nervous about doing anything in front of people, so when it came time to do drills in front of the class I was very stressed out. Probably nowhere near the stress of a real life or death situation, but stressful nevertheless. I was shocked to find that I missed the entire target 2 out of 12 times at a range of about 5 yards! At that distance with my normal target practice I would have had everything in the bullseye.
Needless to say, I need a lot more training. But this really shocked me.
I plan to continue my biweekly training with new drills learned in last nights class, and also take some tactical shooting classes. Boy do I need it. I hope that by the time February comes around that I am confident enough to carry. I'm a lot farther away from that goal than I thought.
So for what it's worth, I just thought I would share my experience.
You are a lucky soul. You won the self defense lottery! Take your experience and add a few more handicaps and you have the experience of a self defense shooting.
Figure you will also get serious tunnel vision along with auditory exclusion and loss of a ton of fine motor skills.
This is why practice is absolutely critical, muscle memory will provide you with a greater chance of survival but it's still not like target shooting at the range.
soon as you feel up to it and you find a suitable place, incorporate movement into your drills...check out IDPA, great skill polisher
Thanks for your candor, Doc. I think many people who have punched a few holes in paper on a nice, quiet, dry, warm range have a very inflated opinion of their "combat" shooting skills - all it took was a little "performance anxiety" to show you what real world stressors can do to you if you haven't trained yourself to function through them...
Good Post! Thank you for sharing.
I hope that those who have not experienced the stress and adrenaline dump of a life threatening situation will realize just what it can do to your shooting skills, or to your whole body for that matter. There are many here that believe "shot placement" and "head shots" are something that can be relied upon. To those that have had to perform under or have been trained for these conditions, that may be true, but for those who have not had to perform under that kind of stress, and then realize that the BG isn't going to stand still for you... some may be in for rude awakening.
Another tool to use is force on force with air soft guns. Nothing like going against another thinking moving human. The first couple of times you come out with AHAA moments and a bunch air soft hickeys
Thanks for sharing that. Its something every CCW holder should go thru.
Welcome to the boards, Doc.
It sounds like you've got your head on straight. I'm in a similar situation and have found lots of good tips on this board. One thing you might consider adding to you training regimen is doing some dry firing every night. I try and do 200 dry fires every weeknight with a trip to the range on Saturday. It's helped a lot and really ingrains the muscle memory. Also, some nightly practice drawing and holstering your weapon (unloaded) would be a great idea.
Anyway, I'm sure you'll get lots more tips from others who are way more experienced/qualified than I, so enjoy you're time here and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge the members can provide.
Good! This is a great point to reinforce: Target shooting at the range is valuable, but it doesn't substitute for IPSC or IDPA or other advanced training. You do need to get practice shooting under adrenaline conditions, just as you do for any kind of self-defense training.
The more practice you get working under high-stress conditions, the more comfortable and effective you'll be in a real-life, actual encounter. Many of us here have seen people who, exposed to an adrenaline surge for the first time in a skills situation, fall to pieces and fail miserably.
Sure, plenty of people don't even shoot at the range but do successfully defend themselves with firearms. After all, what we're talking about here is drawing, pointing, and pulling a trigger. It ain't rocket science. Still, you do find that under pressure it is indeed possible to miss at 5 yards. Training can help to mitigate that.
IDPA meets will also put you under the gun by having you engage multiple targets in a timed event
From my personal experience in one self-defense situation against an attacking dog as well as a drill scenario that I did 2 days ago, in which I simulate shooting a terrorist coming at me with a simulated explosive vest, I have noticed that I have used the Isosceles shooting stance in both despite also practicing with the Weaver. Although I am a much better shot with the Weaver, it was natural for me to revert to the Isosceles because it utilizes the human startle reflex and it also does not matter which foot is in front when employing it.
Originally Posted by NC Bullseye
Yep, I can attest to the adrenaline rush and soil your pants mode. Flying along minding my own business in a UH-1M assault helicopter, while on extended vacation in the tropics in 1971, I was being shot at by what looked like huge bright green foot balls. Being a new vacationer at the time, I later learned it was .50 cal. machine gun fire. Luckily, in my hands, Uncle Sam had placed a nice new M-60 machine gun. My uncle had previously sent me to AIT tactical school to learn how to shoot and care for it. I sat left side on the Huey. All said and done, I went through a whole ammo can of ammo, 4 in the left skid, every brass casing hitting the tail rotor, and the rest sprayed in a five mile radius of where the go home foreign vacationer fire was coming from. The rest of the day, the other 3 vacationers on board had to enjoy the relaxation of my sphincter muscle :redface:
So yea, I can understand being nervious and all...
Good post, and welcome, soundsl ike your going about things in a sensible way......there is more to concealed carry than sticking a gun in your waistband and leaving home.
Thank you for your post and, most of all, for your service. My father took the same vacation as you in 65-66. Was also a gunner on Huey's and (like you I'm sure) could make that m60 sing! Boy the stories he told sure were something to hear! Thank you again.
Originally Posted by Dennis1209
Everyone handles stress differently. There is a thread on here of a Grand Master of some shooting discipline who is also the owner/teacher of a defensive gun school who got into a shootout with 4 robbers and didn't hit any of them.