Is the Ability to Handle Weapons Effectively an Indicator of Possibly Superior


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SharpsDressedMan
January 8, 2012, 01:06 AM
"Stress" control? It just occurred to me that the psychological strengths that make it possible to over come fear and reaction to firearms and dominate shooting skills might also be good indicators of individuals who will be MORE likely to do well in other stressful situations, like personal or battlefield combat. I do know that enhanced firearms familiarization and shooting skills promote confidence, and reduces things that others might be inclined to WORRY about during a high stress, self defense situation. I have seen cops who were NOT very good shooters go into an apparent panic and heightened sense of stress and/or fear when they entered in to a situation where they had to draw their guns and be ready to fight. They seemed to just not be ready, or confident, and to me, that made them a little more dangerous to fellow officers, the public, and themselves. A good argument for training, and a higher level of fireams proficiency. What say you all?

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GI_Jared
January 8, 2012, 01:15 AM
I can tell you from personal experience that shooting skills on the range have nothing to do with how you will react when your being shot at. You are trying to compare shooting at the range to a combat situation, which is like comparing bumper cars at the fair to the Indy 500.

I do agree with you that firearms training is something that is always needed and more range time is always a good thing.

9mmepiphany
January 8, 2012, 03:38 AM
I'd back any argument that would motivate folks to gain any training, but my experience hasn't supported your hypothesis.

What allows for to better handle high stress situations is metal planning (fantasy role playing) and lack of preconceived expectations (remaining fluid). Stress in the situations your propose come from being surprised by the unexpected (fear of the unknown). A great example is in the beginning of Tom Clancy's book Sum of All Fears

Zombiphobia
January 8, 2012, 04:01 AM
shooting paper, pie pans, cans, plastic pop-up targets etc is not the same as shooting at another person. There is much more adrenaline and usually fear involved. Both of those things do some strange things to the mind and ability to shoot accurately and sometimes at all.

Best thing is to clear your mind of the fact that it's a person you're firing upon and do not look into their eyes. Only visualize them as a target.

People who have a 'natural talent' for killing people have a different mind-set than 'normal' people and are often times a certain bit of crazy with the ability to turn off certain emotions like empathy and thinking that get in the way or maybe don't feel it at all.

Plenty of trained snipers can't even do it. The ones who can and do think of it one of two ways- as a 'hunt' for sport(semi-crazy), and those who can turn off a certain amount of emotion and feel little to nothing for what they're doing other than eliminating a target/threat.

Then there's close encounters with a 3rd mind-set which is "me or him" and this one is more complicated as there's little to no time to think about it. Can't really explain that one easily and a lot of different thoughts and emotions may cross your mind before, during, and after the experience. I think the best description is to combine everything you've ever felt and it'll sweep thru you in waves.

But the short answer is no, having the highest shooting skill does not necessarily yeild the best combatant in life or death situations, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

The problem is that much combative and defensive training with firearms does not focus enough on the psychological factors involved and that also depends alot on the individual.

Actually a good read for this topic is called 'On Killing'. There's some BS in it, I think, but for the most part it's very educational about this topic and the psychology behind the act of killing another person.

Dr.Mall Ninja
January 8, 2012, 04:50 AM
I saw an inteview with SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and he talks about seeing his targets as savages and says that he doesnt feel anything.

Its kinda creepy the idea of shooting somebody and feeling nothing but the mindset is needed when you have to pull the trigger on somebody.

http://www.thehotjoints.com/2012/01/06/bill-oreilly-interviews-most-lethal-navy-seal-sniper-chris-kyle/

chieftain
January 8, 2012, 05:23 AM
One is never completely ready for combat. It is actually only learned on the job. With that said:

Training with ones weapons, technical proficiency is always a positive. In that working your weapons should become automatic and without conscious thought.

Tactics and reactions can be trained, for. Such as "immediate action" and personal tactics. These can be learned by training, but knowing when to deploy, and to what effect come with application, or on the job training.

As to "fantasy play" there are probably some or even many situations that it may work. The emotion and fear involved can not be simulated. Some folks, an estimated 10% can handle it out of the box, but most need the conditioning of experience.

I agree the reading of LtCol Grossman's book, "On Killing" is recommended for all troops and folks who may be in the line of fire. (I agree with an earlier poster, that I do not agree with everything Grossman has to say, but in balance a good read) Also Col. John Boyd, the father of the the OODA concept, never wrote a book but there are several papers, and others have written in depth on his very functional theory's. Which apply to much of life besides combat.

There is a reason that through out recorded history to this day, that troops with combat experience have always been prized above all others for that experience, always. Nothing else can supplant it.

Be careful for what you wish for. You just might get it.

Good luck.

Fred

TexasBill
January 8, 2012, 09:09 AM
You can train and train, but nothing can completely prepare you for the reality of an actual situation.

Where training can help is in giving you the confidence you at least know how to use your weapon but among the many other decisions and actions that may have to be taken in a split-second that's not the major factor.

As for depersonalizing your adversary, it's one of the ways of dealing with the need to take a human life.

lemaymiami
January 8, 2012, 09:35 AM
Most that I've known were very reluctant to actually use their weapon.... that first time (this in a police setting, not a military setting - at least that was my experience). After that first time (particularly after that first kill) most of your inhibitions have been removed, period.

In my case I can say that it did take a year or two to fully deal with the one incident I was involved in all those years ago. In a police encounter any officer that has to use their weapon will certainly need counselling afterward - how much, and how in-depth will depend on the circumstances involved.

In my experience you'll never be able to guess how anyone will react in combat or that life or death encounter in ordinary life. The quiet librarian type guy can be a tiger, the big strong self confident individual may freeze up or turn and run. Just no way to predict how you'll respond when you first "see the elephant".... I'd like to live out the rest of my life without going down that road again.

SharpsDressedMan
January 8, 2012, 11:04 AM
Firearms skill is not the end all, for sure. But a high level of proficiency removes one BIG thing to WORRY about during an altercation. That is what I was referring to; the distraction that comes with unsureity. One less thing to occupy one's mind with in a crisis is a welcome thing. I agree, mental planning, thinking out what you WOUDLD do in a situation before it happens was always a part of my routine when on patrol, etc. I have been in draw down, take-weapons-away situations, but fortunately, never had to pull my trigger. Good stuff and commentary. Keep it coming!

BellyUpFish
January 8, 2012, 11:13 AM
How you act in a rather calm and mundane environment is no indicator of how you'll act in a very stressful environment.

I've never been in a war zone, but I've been in some "mistakes now will kill us shortly" situations and I've known people who seemed like they would be "the guy" to take with you during a stressful event shut down completely and I've known guys who you'd pick last to have on your dodgeball team to be excellent performers under stress..

xfyrfiter
January 8, 2012, 11:20 AM
You never know how you'll react till there is incoming. Being fired upon changes your whole perspective. Believe me the adrenaline makes the whole thing different.

berettaprofessor
January 8, 2012, 12:14 PM
saw an inteview with SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and he talks about seeing his targets as savages and says that he doesnt feel anything.



I saw the same interview and while I highly respect Mr. Kyle's abilities and service (and applaud his accuracy), I must admit I was wincing at some of the terms he used and thoughts he expressed. Just a little tough for those who are anti-military to hear. I'm sure that many who have served agree with Mr. Kyle, but I was afraid that the interview will be used by the "anti's" as an example of how Mr. Kyle was just a crazed killing machine brainwashed by the military.

John Ross
January 8, 2012, 12:43 PM
OP, as I think I understand your question, I believe you are exactly right. When you can correctly manipulate mechanical devices instantly and correctly without ANY conscious thought, you have gotten to a MUCH likelier place to ensure your own survival.

No, I haven't shot any people in self-defense.

Yes, I HAVE been in very dangerous situations with African game.

Yes, I have been in dangerous situations with aerobatic aircraft in unexpected and unusual events--that is, dangerous if I didn't take the RIGHT corrective action immediately.

Yes, I have been been in similar situations on a road race track.

John "Forty Second" Boyd's OODA loop applies here. The faster you can Observe, Orient, Decide, Act, the better off you will be. Complete, instinctive familiarity with the mechanical device in question is a very large part of speed in the OODA loop.

You are spot-on.

Rail Driver
January 8, 2012, 12:47 PM
Training gives a person confidence. Confidence will let them handle stress more effectively.

I personally know at least two competition level shooters that would "fold up and hide under a table" in a self defense situation rather than use the skills they possess to get them out of it.

TCB in TN
January 8, 2012, 01:00 PM
I have never been in combat, but I have been trained to box and some martial arts, and I have coached a lot of different sports. I have no doubt that training, developing muscle memory, and reaching a level where you are proficient in any thing helps greatly when things get real. It will not guarantee that you will not freeze, but I can promise that if you don't train then you will not just magically perform well under pressure.

buck460XVR
January 8, 2012, 01:21 PM
Being able to handle weapons effectively has much to do with training and natural ability and hand/eye coordination. Adding stress is another factor and the ability to handle it effectively also depends on training and one's natural ability to cope with it. Are some folks born with a natural ability to handle stress? Of course they are, just as some folks have learned to deal with stress better than others. But I doubt if this is a primary reason some folks are better at handling firearms than others. Everybody is good at something, but I've yet to find anyone that is truly good at everything.

Red Cent
January 8, 2012, 01:49 PM
"I'd back any argument that would motivate folks to gain any training, but my experience hasn't supported your hypothesis."

"When you can correctly manipulate mechanical devices instantly and correctly without ANY conscious thought, you have gotten to a MUCH likelier place to ensure your own survival."

This.

A confrontation with a bg is not like riding an LST to the beach. You have no time to process logical thoughts. Its fight or flight, but that won't go through your mind. Your psyche maybe, but you will never know it.The mind turns off the main switch and switches on the survival mode.

"Auditory Exclusion involves a loss of hearing that occurs as part of the fight-or-flight stress response during confrontation with danger. It is a sort of filtering out of unimportant external noise so that focus is maintained on the business at hand -- survival."
http://panicdisorder.about.com/od/glossaryah/g/AuditoryExcl.htm

"The most common experience during tachypsychia is the feeling that time has either increased or slowed down, brought on by the increased brain activity cause by epinephrine, or the severe decrease in brain activity caused by the "catecholamine washout" occurring after the event.

"It is common for an individual experiencing tachypsychia(emphasis mine) to have serious misinterpretations of their surroundings during the events, through a combination of their altered perception of time, as well as transient partial color blindness and tunnel vision."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachypsychia

A REAL SOGB situation will produce the foregoing effects. You will not think of how good or bad you are with a handgun. You will go on auto-pilot. If you have not ingrained any movements into your subconscious, my guess you will run freeze, or faint.

Those of you who can, at the beep, get in the bubble during a stage knows a little of the feeling. You don't hear anything, peripheaal objects disappear, and you do what you practice.

Period.

WNTFW
January 8, 2012, 02:08 PM
I have seen a guy that was all about being trained and ready for anything get the shakes at a bowling pin match. The guy next to him shooting in the same manner was not shaking. Shaky guy's weapons manipulations didn't kick in too well either.
Of course it is easier to watch and critique than to do.
Same thing with trained fighter in a street fight. I have seen some lock up. I have also witnessed a few that had no problem with being attacked and prevailing.
Bottom line for me is I would favor someone who is trained over untrained. Someone who is proven over unproven would be even better. Even then last time was last time and next time is next time.
One guy might be good at fighting fires and no good in the water. Another handles heights but not confined spaces.
Some guys fold when they get behind. Some fight back to being ahead.

Serenity
January 8, 2012, 02:11 PM
Do you think that the ability to work effectively in a dangerous environment--that is totally unrelated to combat--would transfer, to some extent? I experience that zone of heightened awareness and slight tunnel perception frequently at work. Is functioning in that condition something that can be "exercised" even if it isn't in the same circumstances? So, I need to develop personal defense skills and continue weapons training, but I have the "operating in the presence of physical threat" skill.

Red Cent
January 8, 2012, 02:24 PM
I would think that any time the situation produces the height of stimualtion equal to an imminent gunfight would bring on the altered senses.

One_Jackal
January 8, 2012, 03:18 PM
I would say that hunting can give you an idea of how you will act in the event you have to defend yourself with a gun. Most of the time you only have aI few seconds, if that to take the animal. Even with a dog pointing quail the rush of wings startles experienced hunters. It takes a bit of practice to compose yourself and single out a quail for a shot. I am not saying that hunting is as nerve wracking as combat. It's just a situation that forces you to act quickly.

Dinger
January 8, 2012, 04:29 PM
I read the subject to be, "Is the Ability to Handle Weapons Effectively an Indicator of Possibly Superior". Superior ________ what? How about Intellect. Getting away from this stress thing I must say that I don't think I've ever met an idiot champion. Most folks I've run into in the competition world have been pretty sharp. Some years back I was involved in teaching pistol and rifle to Navy Midshipman during their first summer arrival indoctrination. I was told that this was one of the phases that was closely monitored for "early wash-outs". If they couldn't qualify Expert with a rack 1911 during this period it was unlikely they'd make it to graduation. Just a thought..............

Rail Driver
January 8, 2012, 04:41 PM
I read the subject to be, "Is the Ability to Handle Weapons Effectively an Indicator of Possibly Superior". Superior ________ what? How about Intellect. Getting away from this stress thing I must say that I don't think I've ever met an idiot champion. Most folks I've run into in the competition world have been pretty sharp. Some years back I was involved in teaching pistol and rifle to Navy Midshipman during their first summer arrival indoctrination. I was told that this was one of the phases that was closely monitored for "early wash-outs". If they couldn't qualify Expert with a rack 1911 during this period it was unlikely they'd make it to graduation. Just a thought..............

The OP finished the title in his post:

"Stress" control?

I agree that most champions of pretty much anything involving skill tend to be fairly intelligent. They're also quite good at stress control in a competition setting. How you react in a competition doesn't necessarily translate to how you'll react in a life or death situation.

That said, I did US. Army basic training about 13 years ago, and if I remember correctly, not qualifying expert certainly wasn't a reason for recruits to wash-out. I don't know how they do things in the Navy, but it seems to me that a lack of expert qualification with a pistol is much less important than skill in other areas. Are you sure that wasn't just one of YOUR criteria? Can you show me a Field Manual that outlines that particular criteria?

chieftain
January 8, 2012, 05:33 PM
I know nothing that will synthesize the taste of fear. I believe that all stressors and training help prepare one to handle the supreme stress of a firefight, but nothing can emulate it. NOTHING.

With that said, some firefights were and are more trying than others. Every firefight is different no matter how similar they seem to be.

My own history is extensive military firefights (Vietnam), several major battles and a siege. There were times when I felt better about things than others, but none of the emotions were planned or at obvious times. Most of my weakest moments were when nothing of consequence was going on at all. During actual fights I was usually much to busy, "taking care of business" to worry about how I felt.

It always seemed to me that when the fight was "ON" I was busy managing or directing our end of the fight or a portion there of. On occasion just trying to stay alive. Rarely had a man freeze up when he had something to do. It is that moment when you do not know what you should do that a man is at risk. Training can surely help one to not get stuck in that moment. But the transition from normal or near normal existence to full fledged combat or a "fight for life" is a MONSTER of a transition. Even wild animals fail to transition at times, and then Darwin takes over.

If you want this, I would like to recommend my alma mater the Marine Corps, or the US Army. They will do their best to give you all the "real" combat experience you can desire. Police work can get you there, but frankly the vast majority of LEO's thankfully will never fire their weapon in anger. As a civilian, if you ever get to that place, your life at that moment has truly gone to ****. I hope you survive both the fight and the aftermath, and not just you, but your family too. Because as a civilian, often your family can be badly damaged without taking an actual hit.

The best fire fight is the one that never happens.

Good luck, and God Bless.

Fred

SharpsDressedMan
January 8, 2012, 06:44 PM
"superior stress control." I couldn't get the whole question in the title, so it was continued into the first paragraph.

d2wing
January 8, 2012, 10:07 PM
Combat vet here to. I pretty much agree training and knowing what to do is very important. Do they indicate how well you do in combat?
I don't think so because some guys reacted in ways I did not expect. Tested by fire is an old saying that's true. I respect fellow vets in a way I cannot explain. It is a serious thing.

SharpsDressedMan
January 8, 2012, 10:16 PM
The question is whether there is a corellation between a high level of fireams management and a measure of stress control, not if it REPLACES combat experience, or is an end all to training, etc. Just if you all think it is a good indicator of a person LIKELY to do better under stress.

hso
January 8, 2012, 10:35 PM
Nope

Shadow 7D
January 9, 2012, 02:05 AM
Second the NOPE
I was a Combat medic (as in I was on the line, not changing bed pans)

I knew of two good medics, when it came time to perform under fire (actually by then the firing had stopped) the failed, completely flustered.
In train they were great, they knew their stuff, the were wonderful on sickcall (clinic) but under stress they fell flat.

That said, I think training can help, you go through a full up "Aw, ****" brown drawers sequence, where the person going in KNOWS NOTHING of what is to happen. Then you analize it, you walk it through step by step, then run through it.

And then you throw them into something completely different and see which way they jump, eventually you CAN train the jump out of them.

OK, and here is the BUT
Alot of the hesitation and uncertainy comes from having to cycle from 'everything is all right' to 'I'm under attack'

Take a Kung Fu movie analogy, Kung Fu master gets attack taking a walk and smelling the flowers he reacts, he doesn't have to spin up in a OODA loop, he has trained himself to the point where he has the Heuristics and reactions to short cut conscious decisions.

when he's attacked his mind recognizes "under attack" and reacts accordingly

where a student may know ALL the same moves as the master
but when attacked his though process is much longer
first having to come to realize it IS an attack (and get past denial- BIG POINT)
Then he has to remember what to do.

I think most people fall into the second category
and most people will fall into DENIAL and fail to react to the threat in a timely manner
no matter what their range skill, they may be a perfect shot, may have a blazing quick draw. If they don't train themselves and ready their mind to fight back, they won't or they will have a major delay deciding to start to fight back.

Read true crime, Sam I think you linked the BTK confession, every victim fought back, almost every victim either gave in or failed to react to the initial attack. The true struggle didn't happen until they realized they were going to die. Those that fought back immediately where the victims that managed to escape or survive.

baylorattorney
January 9, 2012, 02:37 AM
I've seen men fall back and rely on training to get them through a stressful scenario such as a shooting, and ive seen men of equal training freeze under fire. I still say there is no substitute for training/preparation, but it doesn't seem to be the dispositive factor of stress management.

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