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Beyond Obama and Biden's New Gun Laws: How Fear Affects Your Brain in a Shootout | TIME.com

Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts

By Amanda Ripley Jan. 16, 2013

In the roiling national set-to over whether guns would make schools safer, most of the debate has been a caricature of itself. One side wants to install guns in every school, and the other wants to banish them. “I wish to God [the principal] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up,” Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas said on Fox News after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, “so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”

But the research on actual gunfights, the kind that happen not in a politician’s head but in fluorescent-lit stairwells and strip-mall restaurants around America, reveals something surprising. Winning a gunfight without shooting innocent people typically requires realistic, expensive training and a special kind of person, a fact that has been strangely absent in all the back-and-forth about assault-weapon bans and the Second Amendment.


In the New York City police department, for example, officers involved in gunfights typically hit their intended targets only 18% of the time, according to a Rand study. When they fired 16 times at an armed man outside the Empire State Building last summer, they hit nine bystanders and left 10 bullet holes in the suspect—a better-than-average hit ratio. In most cases, officers involved in shootings experience a kaleidoscope of sensory distortions including tunnel vision and a loss of hearing. Afterward, they are sometimes surprised to learn that they have fired their weapons at all.

“Real gun battles are not Call of Duty,” says Ryan Millbern, who responded to an active-shooter incident and an armed bank robbery among other calls during his decade as a police officer in Colorado. Millbern, a member of the National Rifle Association, believes there is value in trained citizens’ carrying weapons for defensive purposes. He understands what the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre meant when he said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But he knows from experience that in a life-or-death encounter, a gun is only as good as its user’s training.


Under sudden attack, the brain does not work the way we think it will. Millbern has seen grown men freeze under threat, like statues dropped onto the set of a horror movie. He has struggled to perform simple functions at shooting scenes, like unlocking a switch on a submachine gun while directing people to safety. “I have heard arguments that an armed teacher could and would respond to an active shooter in the same way a cop would. That they would hear gunshots, run toward the sound and then engage the shooter,” Millbern writes in an e-mail from Baghdad, where he now works as a bomb-detection K-9 handler. “I think this is very unrealistic.”

As lawmakers in at least seven states debate whether to allow teachers to carry firearms in school (something already allowed in Utah and Texas), it is worth considering: What happens in the human brain during a gunfight? And how much training would armed teachers or security guards need to prevail?

The Adrenaline Surge

At 3 p.m. one autumn day in 2004, Jim Glennon found himself being shot at without warning. He was a lieutenant, a third-generation cop who had decided on the spur of the moment to help out on a routine shoplifting call. The suspect, a white man in his mid-50s, had walked out of a liquor store with a bottle of vodka without paying for it, and the police had tracked his license plate to a condo complex in a suburb of Chicago.

The officers knocked on the door at the end of a long hallway and got no response. After a few minutes, Glennon started to suggest they come back with a warrant. That was when the man threw open the door and began firing a black snub-nosed revolver from three feet away.

Glennon was a police-academy trainer, unusually well schooled in survival skills. But from the moment he saw the revolver, his mind entered a state unlike anything he’d experienced before. “Oh s—! Gun!” he said, spinning his body hard to the left, missing a bullet by inches or less.

Without his conscious knowledge, the sight of the gun had sent a signal to his brain stem, passing a message to his amygdala—the primal, almond-shaped mass of nuclei that controls the fear response from deep within the brain’s temporal lobe. The amygdala, in turn, triggered a slew of changes throughout Glennon’s body. His blood vessels constricted so that he would bleed less if he got wounded. His heart rate shot up. A surge of hormones charged through his system, injecting power to his major muscle groups should he need to fight or flee.

His first actual thought was that the gun must have had only five or six rounds. He knew this because it reminded him of the revolver his grandfather gave his father years earlier. As he and a fellow officer turned and began racing down the hallway to take cover around the corner, he counted the number of shots he heard behind him, waiting for the suspect to run out of ammunition. Relying on his training, he pulled his .40-caliber Sig Sauer pistol out of his holster.


As happens for most people in life-or-death situations, his brain began to manipulate his perception of time, slowing down the motion as he fled down the corridor. “The hallway looked like one of those dreams where it is just really, really long,” he says. Later he would guess that it was 250 ft. long; it was really 79 ft.

But for each superpower his brain gave him, it took one away. In a flash, his brain reprioritized, shifting finite resources to the cause of survival. As he ran, rounds bursting behind him “like cannon shots,” he suddenly fell flat on his face in the carpeted hallway, tearing skin off his hands and knees.

“I was a 48-year-old guy wearing 20 lb. of equipment,” he remembers, “and I was running faster than I think my body was capable of handling.” In life-or-death situations, human beings often lose basic motor skills that we take for granted under normal conditions. (Attackers, not just those they’re shooting at, also experience such trade-offs, though they usually have the advantage of not being taken by surprise.)

Instantly, Glennon bounced back up and kept running to the corner, which seemed to get no closer with each step. Just then, his fellow officer fell down in front of him, screaming that he’d been shot. So Glennon’s brain reprioritized again. He grabbed the officer’s belt and heaved him the rest of the way around the corner. He remembers feeling pain in his back and thinking, Son of a bitch got me. It had taken seconds to get to the end of the hallway, but it felt like minutes.

Then, having finally taken cover, he turned and pointed back down the hallway toward the shooter. It was a chilling sensation to see his bare hand in front of him, pointing in the shape of a pistol like a boy on the playground. Where was his gun? “I looked at my hand. It wasn’t there. I looked in my holster. It wasn’t there.”

Without being aware of it, Glennon had dropped his gun in the hallway when he’d reached over to help the wounded officer. In moments of extreme stress, the brain does not allow for contemplation; it does not process new information the way it normally does. The more advanced parts of the brain that handle decision making go off-line, unable to intervene until the immediate fear has diminished.

Luckily, Glennon did not dwell on this mistake. Nor did he freeze or shut down entirely, as many people do in life-or-death situations. Instead he reached over and grabbed the gun out of the holster of the injured officer. When he looked back down the hallway, he saw the arm of the shooter pointing toward him—and, behind it, the arm of a third police officer pointing out from another doorway.

More than anything else, Glennon wanted to shoot back. He started to squeeze the trigger. Then from somewhere in the recesses of his brain, he reminded himself: You can’t shoot. If he did, he would risk hitting the third officer standing behind the gunman. His training kicked in just in time, overriding his instincts.

The third officer took two shots at the gunman from an awkward angle, missing both times. But seconds later, the suspect threw his gun into the hallway, surrendering. The officers handcuffed him, and a battery of backup officers arrived. Glennon’s deputy chief ripped off Glennon’s bulletproof vest to make sure he hadn’t been shot too; he was fine. The pain in his back was the pain that came from one middle-aged man lifting another. Only later, in the ambulance, did Glennon begin to shake, just as he’d read people tend to do in the aftermath of an adrenaline surge.

Beyond Target Practice

Today, Glennon runs Calibre Press, a law-enforcement training company based outside Chicago, and has trained tens of thousands of police officers nationwide. His primary message to his trainees is that they need better training than they typically get; real gunfights are nothing like the ones on TV. “Over half the police officers in the country are only required to go down once or twice a year and shoot holes in a paper target,” he says. Experts who study human performance in gunfights generally agree that people can train to perform better through highly realistic, dynamic simulation training. But that is expensive, especially compared with traditional target practice, and it doesn’t happen often enough.


In the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, as local governments contemplate allowing more firearms in schools, Glennon worries that communities might inadvertently undertrain civilians just as they have done with police officers. “Cops aren’t trained well enough, so what do you think they’re going to do with teachers?” he says. “It’s not enough just to carry a gun.”

When I asked police safety experts how much training would be ideal for teachers or, for that matter, police officers assigned to schools, they offered different estimates. In Arizona, Alexis Artwohl, co-author of the book Deadly Force Encounters and a veteran police psychologist and trainer, recommended a weeklong program with “a lot of practice” and a requirement that participants meet minimum performance standards in order to graduate. In Ohio, Bill DeWeese, a veteran police officer and head of the National Ranger Training Institute, recommended two to three times that much training, and he pointed out that the best training includes much more than firing a gun. “I’m an avid firearms person and always have been,” he says. “The one thing I’ve learned is that it’s not about possessing firearms. It’s about possessing the skills to read a situation—learning how to adapt and maneuver, to respond to an unexpected, fluid situation.”

But in DeWeese’s state of Ohio, 1,100 teachers have already signed up for the Armed Teacher Training Program, offered free by Buckeye Firearms Foundation. That class will last just three days. In other states, civilians can get concealed-carry permits with one day of training or less. About a third of all public schools in the U.S. already have armed security, including every high school in Chicago, and that number may increase after the Newtown shootings. To date, there is no clear evidence that such measures make schools safer. Some studies have found a decrease in violence in schools with in-house police officers, while others have found no relationship at all. Still others have found that armed security makes some students feel less safe—and may funnel more students than necessary into the criminal-justice system for small infractions.

Of course, it’s also possible that the mere presence of armed teachers or guards could deter a shooter from attacking altogether. There would be no need to perform well in a gunfight—because there would be no gunfight. (Likewise, over the course of a career, it is statistically unlikely that a New York City police officer will ever fire his or her weapon in the line of duty, but the silent presence of officers’ weapons surely influences the behavior of civilians around them.) Many gun-rights advocates worry that gun-free school zones actually attract shooters because they represent easy, vulnerable targets. It’s hard to know, though, if mass murderers apply such logic when choosing targets—or if they simply seek to create the most socially abhorrent crime scenes in order to breed maximum shock and grief. In the case of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, for example, the attacking students were aware that their school had an armed sheriff’s deputy in the school parking lot. (The deputy exchanged fire with one of them but missed.)


Of the mass shootings that are stopped by others, roughly two-thirds are brought to an end by civilians, according to Ron Borsch, a police officer and trainer in Bedford, Ohio, who has been keeping a database of such incidents since the Columbine shooting. That’s because they are typically the only ones in the immediate vicinity of the shooter. And most of those civilians are unarmed, Borsch has found. In the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, which happened in just 15 seconds, civilians tackled gunman Jared Loughner, ripped the gun from his hands and confiscated his ammunition.

By then, though, it’s already too late for the victims. Dan Marcou, a former SWAT commander and police officer who was involved in three shootings in Wisconsin, argues that the public’s most important opportunity comes before any shooting starts. Most shooters belong to the communities they target and go through predictable phases before they kill anyone, from fantasizing about the murders to planning them. “We have to pay attention,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be a police officer who fires a shot; sometimes it’s a teacher who comes forward and says, ‘Hey, this guy is really dangerous.’”

By fixating on hypothetical school-yard gunfights, we are choosing to fight in the riskiest arena: the chances that an officer or armed educator will shoot a child by accident are high, as are the chances of arriving officers’ mistakenly shooting anyone seen with a weapon in the ensuing chaos.

With all this uncertainty, it is useful to remember that the odds of a U.S. student’s being killed at school are about 1 in 3 million, lower than the odds of being struck by lightning. Schools are safer now than they have been in 20 years. Kids do become victims of gun violence far too often in the U.S.—but almost always outside school, far from gun-free zones or teachers with pistols.
 

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Interesting read, but...

It sounds like someone trying to say that "officials" are the only ones that should be armed because the rest of us will become bumbling drooling idiots if we encounter a real situation or gunfire.

It is laughable to use the NYPD and their abysmal marksmanship skills to imply that because they stink, you could not do better.

While most of us are not Rambo, real records of actual self-defense shootings show that average people can and do prevail in gunfights with criminals.

Many times your average person will have a much better record of shots hitting the criminal and only the criminal, not like the NYPD and other police agencies. Over 100 rounds in to a pickup truck by two LAPD and the two unarmed women inside were lucky that most of the shots missed and they survived.

I particularly like the part where they imply that the arriving officers will shoot anyone with a weapon in the chaos of a school shooting. How would they know that the person was the shooter and not a legally armed citizen? What if the person shooting was a detective or other government agent whose kid went to the school and they happened to be there armed and were engaging the school shooter? It would seem that what they are saying is that their officers are too stupid to verify their target and will just shoot anyone with a gun not in approved uniform.

The left would like to impose more restrictions on gun carry and use reports such as these to require training that costs more than the average citizen can afford.

Sorry, no gun for you unless you go through "Joe Biden's Shotgun Safety Course" where you will get to learn valuable gems from Joe himself such as how merely racking the slide on that sucker will cause felons to pee their pants and run in fear! After that, you will practice running to the back porch and firing twice into the air.
 

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There's a lot of serious food for thought in that article.

I pray to God that I never have to pull a gun in defense of myself or protecting my loved ones (in our home or on the streets)...but if that should come to pass I will have a firearm ready and we'll just have to see if I'm up to handling the threat.
 

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Interesting read, but...

I particularly like the part where they imply that the arriving officers will shoot anyone with a weapon in the chaos of a school shooting. How would they know that the person was the shooter and not a legally armed citizen? What if the person shooting was a detective or other government agent whose kid went to the school and they happened to be there armed and were engaging the school shooter? It would seem that what they are saying is that their officers are too stupid to verify their target and will just shoot anyone with a gun not in approved uniform.
That is precisely why our local college police chief is opposed to the Texas Campus Carry law (which comes up for a final vote on Tuesday). He says that in the event of an active shooter, his men have been trained to shoot anyone who is armed.

In a workshop we had with him last month we told him that his plan is "dead" wrong, inappropriate, and dangerous. Nuff said.
 

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Perhaps my situation is an anomoly, but most of the civilians (or should I say non LEO's) that I know that own guns, spend A LOT of time shooting. Some of them attend shooting schools, some are members of IDPA. However, most of the police officers I know don't go to the range all that often. They had their academy classes, and they are generally (depending on department) required to pass a very basic range test once a year. So personally when I hear or read that the average firearm owning Joe doesn't have the training or know how to stand up to that of police officers, I want to both laugh and puke. Please don't make police officers out to be heavily trained and highly skilled combat troops because far more often they aren't.

The article did bring up an interesting truth though, and that is the body does do some very odd things when in fight or flight mode, and you never really know how you're going to react until you are neck deep in that situation. This goes for not just average Joes, but police officers and even soldiers. I've always been of the mind that if you are going to take on the great responsibility of owning a gun, and this goes at least doubly for those that would carry one, you should continue that desire to be responsible and get the proper training to vastly increase your chances of coming out of an encounter alive, and not having shot or killed anyone that didn't have it coming.
 
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That article is garbage. Plenty of people, in hard record incidents do quite well. I would be hard pressed to find a more biased article. It essentially says that everyone is sheep.

I actually believe one of the major problems with statistically bad police shooting records (worse actually by quite a magnitude than non-police self defense hit-ratios) is that there are many police with poor training coupled with sheeple police. That is right. People who really don't have the proper mentality for action in life-or-death situations. Frankly the only thing I can agree with the article on is that there are more people who are human statues than not. Having been in several life or death situations myself I know my reaction. Some people are do-ers and others are statues. I am a do-er. Most do-ers can be found quite easily. Surprise them, scare them, and if their reaction is to attack. They are a do-er. If they scream and leap back or cower or freeze, sheeple. My entire life this has been true, surprise me and I will hit you before I can even consciously think otherwise. I've laid out more than a few of my friends that way. I've experienced the time dilation. I wouldn't describe it as that cop did. Instead I found everything to be hyper clear. Distances to be precise and measurable. My mind is working at a thousand times its normal speed, and before what I am going through now, my mind operated quite fast compared to most folks. In an almost silly way I can recall all sorts of things. The feel of the air, tastes and smells I could never notice in day to day. Textures of my clothes are embedded in my memory in surreal vividness. I can feel everything. It is like the laughable movie mode watching a water drop slow and almost hover kind of feeling. I felt like I knew everything that was going to happen and was just sort of walking my way through it. It was an odd sense of unhurriedness. I don't recall feeling afraid, more of a clinical disconnected feeling from everything emotional. Everything "was what it was". Pain was also disabled in a fashion as well.

Everything "hit" afterwards when the time perception returned to normal. Yes, you do shake, like a frikkin leaf. It is like coming down off the biggest hit of speed or heroin.

The point is though that statistically, the common person seems to out perform the agent of the state. Which is very odd indeed. I believe because many of the agents of the state do it as a Job and make it up in their head that they will never go through it till they do for the first time. Kind of like the many people who joined the military who have no mind for war, blood, and death, but joined to get a free college ride and money. When you sign on for a dangerous job that is bloody minded you'd damn well better be the right mental type.
 

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I know several officers and from my sampling at least, the majority do not go to the range more then required, and the range training consists of how fast you can reliably hit the target. They qualify as a sharp shooter if they get 80% or higher in the 7-10 ring. and it doesn't matter where in that area.
 

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I hope the time never comes when I have to kill someone to defend myself or family. However if it happens I hope to be able to pass the test and win. It is not what you live for but to be able to live you will have to do it.
 
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As an admin tech in USAF (16+yrs), I only had to qualify annually, and then only if the unit I was assigned to was deployable, tactical-type; orderly room types, etc, barely even went to range. Hated that. And of course, it was only to count the hits on the sillhouette, no real "training." That being said...some of the replies are not first time I've read LEO's only shooting at qualification time. Heck, I go shooting more than that. Kinda scary. I'm sure most of the public assumes there is on-going tactical training; I guess budgets affect everything nowadays, too bad.
 

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BG objective #1 - take and not be taken. BG objective #2 - don't get shot in the process of #1. BG objective #3 - find the path of least resistance.

Everyone who carries or doesn't carry but has a weapon for self-defense should be a member of and participate in IDPA.
 
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If anything the article makes you think, right or wrong if you are not thinking about it i don't think you will be prepared.

I was a victim of an armed robbery at work in the mid 90's, training and luck possibly saved my life. Luck was when his gun went click instead of bang. I had no chance he came around the corner with intentions of shooting me. Training kicked in at the sound of the click and kept him from trying again. I did not experience the tunnel vision, I calmed the robber down, kept my employees from doing some thing stupid (yes one tried to run off) I screamed his name and told him to stop as the robber was drawing down on him. Robber got minimal cash and all the employees left a live uninjured. Years of training and being aware it can happen paid off.

Today I keep training and even thought violent crime is minimal where I live I am aware that it can and does happen. In the above situation if I was armed that robber would have been dead!
 

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That was a well-written, thought-provoking article, even if some of us here got more than a little defensive over the perceived conclusions. The writer described, in factual terms, what happens when the brain faces a life-threatening circumstance. It's something very few are prepared for or able to recognize, much less control. He related events in an officer's confrontation with an armed criminal and talked to other police and trainers, rather than limit his data mining to liberal psychobabble. You can huff and puff all you want about what a fearless warrior you are, but time after time it's been shown that no one knows how they'll really react in a life-threatening situation until they experience one.
 

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I think it all goes back to the old adage, "the best laid battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy".
 

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The study is flawed. Everyone knows that LEOs cant shoot. I base this of of knowledge from tv shows that in every way possible depict real life scenarios and shootouts.
 

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That was a well-written, thought-provoking article, even if some of us here got more than a little defensive over the perceived conclusions. The writer described, in factual terms, what happens when the brain faces a life-threatening circumstance. It's something very few are prepared for or able to recognize, much less control. He related events in an officer's confrontation with an armed criminal and talked to other police and trainers, rather than limit his data mining to liberal psychobabble. You can huff and puff all you want about what a fearless warrior you are, but time after time it's been shown that no one knows how they'll really react in a life-threatening situation until they experience one.
Yup, it is based on innate nature more than training. Training helps with things like automatic movements during crisis events, but that can be as much a hurt as a help. A good example is the old CHP training where they would always keep their brass for reloading to save money. This was back when they used revolvers. While training they were required to open the cylinder take the brass into hand and put it in their shirt pocket. Well, SHTF one day and several CHP were killed in a gun battle. Why were they killed? As it turns out they were doing some very odd things in that firefight. Standing still as well as every dead officer was found with his brass in his shirt pocket! Turns out that the way they trained was how they operated in the firefight and it got them killed. That was the official conclusion and training regime was adjusted.

So you REALLY need to be careful of what kind of automatic movements you are training in. Which is why I think that shooting paper is actually a terrible thing to do. Think about how you operate at most ranges. Static, no movement, no rapid fire, bullseye style shooting regime. That kind of stuff could get you killed in an life or death situation. But what you are doing is creating automatic movements and behaviors that your brain will use in a crisis situation. Bullseye shooting has it's place and has valuable training benefits but if it is all you train... well.

Also, one other thing. I can't remember who did this study, however, someone studied the results of behaviors of police in shooting situations when they are injured and interviews with the officers about their thinking patterns were done. The conclusion drawn was that the difference between a human statue, someone who breaks down when shot, and the ones that kept going, fighting every inch, was not training, nor mental scenarios. No, the fighters all had one thing in common as did all of the human statues who went down in one hit, even superficial. The fighters had mentally trained themselves, not with battle plans, but with one thought: I will be in a firefight, I will get shot, I will not die or give in. Conversely the human statues all spent their days leading up to their incident believing and hoping that it would never come, never happen, that they would get lucky and make it through.

My father trained me about guns and knives: If you get in a knife fight, you will get cut. If you get in a gun fight, you will get shot. If you sign up for wishful thinking in life, like most libs, and paint a happy rainbow on reality, chances are in a crisis you won't function well. Don't train for scenarios, train and fortify your mind and your body. Accept reality, expect reality, and then CHOOSE HOW YOU WILL REACT. This should be a daily activity, a way of life.
 

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That was a well-written, thought-provoking article, even if some of us here got more than a little defensive over the perceived conclusions. The writer described, in factual terms, what happens when the brain faces a life-threatening circumstance. It's something very few are prepared for or able to recognize, much less control. He related events in an officer's confrontation with an armed criminal and talked to other police and trainers, rather than limit his data mining to liberal psychobabble. You can huff and puff all you want about what a fearless warrior you are, but time after time it's been shown that no one knows how they'll really react in a life-threatening situation until they experience one.
I'd like to share an experience that addresses some of these points. Up to the moment of the experience I am about to describe I was never in any real life and death confrontation, therefore, I had no idea how I would react. At the time I took up shooting and training with about 90% of my time focused on realistic shooting up close to moderate distance fast shooting and the remainder of the time spent on "target" shooting and weak handed shooting.

I had done a lot of serious reading about shooting and shootists. My mindset was very good, my shooting skills pretty good. I was confident in my own skill set. To make a long story short on a week-end night around 1:00 AM I was coming home from one of my favorite dance clubs and as I neared my house - about three miles away I noticed that I was being followed. I had my Glock .40 in the car. I drove to my house - I live on a cul de sac - and the car followed me there! I got out and partially used my car for cover as I watched the car make a turn and slowed down to check me out.

I had my gun behind my back. As the three or four men in the car slowed to check me out I decided that if they got out of the car - they would have passed my mental threshold - that I would start shooting. Now this is the interesting and scary part...what crossed my mind, as I thought of the ways they could exit the car to threaten me..."Target Practice." No fear, just a sense of calm and being in a state of serenity and going with the flow. Target practice...I never would have predicted that reaction.

I mention this because my attitude, as I reflect on this, was partially determined by my level of confidence in my skills. I don't ever remember reading a study that identified confidence or skill level as a determining factor in a gunfight. Certainly these are factors but they have not, to my knowledge, been used in studies of civilian or police research on gunfight outcomes. Not everybody goes through the same mental processes, not everyone has the same physiological reactions to threat. The point that we need to study further are under what conditions do particular/specific reactions occur.

Today, I do not practice as much as I used to so I can only ponder what my reactions would be under similar circumstances.

Big mistake to use the police as a guide to shooting expertise or even proficiency.
 
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The article is a perfect example of how statistics, pseudo-science, and disparate elements can be used to draw conclusions that were a foregone decision before the article was ever written. The Police, or any other armed group, are expected to be Mel Gibson, John Wayne, and Bruce Willis all rolled up into a super citizen. That they aren't matters little to the author. People who practice with their weapons handily beat most LEO, and security, groups scores in equal training. The average soldier, much better armed than the average police officer, also practices less than most CCW holders. They, as well, score lower when compared to that CCW holder.

It's been a joke for decades over just how LITTLE LEOs and Soldiers actually shoot their guns. At my last DoD Club Meet, a Headquarters Company was qualifying next to us. The soldiers told us that we, about twenty of us, put more rounds downrange, and scored better than their entire Company.

Fact of the matter is, that Bad Guys routinely score just as many hits as the Police. Yet, you'll never find them in IDPA, or qualifying with their weapons. Perhaps the outlook isn't as bleak as some of these "experts" would have one believe. We read daily of successful men and women who were assaulted with weapons, but who prevailed. By this amateur treatise, that couldn't be happening. Worse, many of the people doing this aren't what one would call dedicated shooters.

Assaults are, by their very nature, fluid events. There aren't going to be two exactly alike, ever. When the SHTF occurs, nothing may be like any of the possible scenarios that we practice for. Instead, we may start with tremendous advantages, like seeing the attacker (s) in plenty of time to respond. We may also start with tremendous disadvantages, like missing the approach, or by having out hands full when the attack begins.

What ever we do, nobody has ever stopped to insure that they met the requirements for a lethal encounter. Pulse rate up? Check. Tunnel-vision? Check. Auditory exclusion? Check. Adrenaline dump at 100%? Got it. All of these are phenomena observed AFTER the incident, via memory. During the combat, nobody has time to worry about them. It is, after all, lumped into fight-or-flight. There are advantages to this, of courser. Lessened response to pain, ability to focus upon the threat, hyper strength, and reflex enhancement all were wired into us millenia ago, just to enhance our personal survival. Seems as though those enhancements have enabled humanity to survive as a species to this day. Only to those with an agenda will they be considered as problems preventing us from dealing with an attack.

Besides, the statement that NYPD engaged the man, shooting nine others while doing so, is a testament to their lack of skills, not something upon which to base others skill levels by default.
 
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