The Benefits of Training Under Stressful Situations

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  • ustasc

    Junior Member
    Industry Partner
    Jan 14, 2014
    The Benefits of Training Under Stressful Situations
    By Evan Avnet, USTASC

    Learning to shoot accurately and effectively is an important skill to have, especially in a self-defense situation. However, shooting under stress can be very different from shooting at the range. It is important to practice shooting under stressful conditions so that you are prepared if you ever find yourself in a real-life dangerous situation. Let's take a look at why it's beneficial to learn how to shoot accurately under stress.

    The Adrenaline Rush Factor
    When you are faced with a life-threatening situation, your body releases adrenaline. This adrenaline rush affects your body in several ways, including making your heart race faster and making your breathing become more shallow. If you don't know how to control these effects, it can result in inaccurate shots and missed targets. Therefore, it is important to practice shooting under stressful conditions so that you are better able to control your reactions when the time comes.

    The Fight or Flight Response (or freeze)
    Another factor that comes into play during a dangerous situation is the fight or flight response. This is when your body instinctively decides whether it should stay and fight or run away from the danger. As soon as you make this decision, your body will react accordingly—if you decide to fight, then your body will release hormones such as adrenaline which can affect how well you shoot. By practicing shooting under stressful conditions, you can better prepare yourself for this type of reaction and be better able to stay calm and accurate when it matters most.

    Situational awareness is a big factor in decision making. Although there are different color codes... we will use the following for explanation purposes. Most people walk around in a white status as in completely unaware of their surroundings and not prepared for anything. The green status is relaxed in your personal environment (at home, etc), The yellow status is aware and ready. Yellow is the status that you should be in most of the time. The red status is action, time to act. The black status is frozen in action.

    ALSO there is the idea of social verification that something is occurring. Many times during an active shooting incident or a terrorist incident people will look to others to determine the best course of action. They will visually "check" with others to see what they should do. This is an evolutionary crowd mentality similar to schooling fish or prey running together. ACT quickly. As soon as you identify a gunshot or an exposition or other serious issue, evacuate immediately. Don't wait for social verification. You can always come back if it was not a serious problem. Learn more about Rick Rescorla below and how his quick reaction saved over over 2500 people.

    RICK RESCORLA saved 2,687 lives on September 11th at Morgan Stanley in the world trade center due to his practice with his staff and evacuation drills. He was head of security. He also ignored announcements to stay in place. He died saving people.

    What Occurs

    When your flight, flight or freeze occurs three potential things will happen:

    1) Auditory exclusion - your brain will essentially cut off your hearing or at least the ability to recognize what you are hearing. This is important in target identification and if there are police officers on the scene giving orders. Many times you will have to visually recognize someone is talking in order for their speech to be recognized. You can also "not hear" sounds, for instance the gun fire from your weapon becomes unnoticeable.

    2) Loss of fine motor control - Your ability to control yourself physically will diminish and you will loose the ability to control small actions, such as a slide stop/release lever. This is why it is always good to train in the rip method of holding on to the rear of the slide with your non-gun hand and pushing forward on the frame instead of using the slide stop to release or in pulling back on the slide. The handgun should also be brought in closer to your chest when doing this. You have much more strength interior to your chest then outreached.

    3) Tunnel vision - You will have a tendency to focus on your target and only your target (i.e. center mass). This has a benefit in that it generally makes people shoot more accurately however it cuts off your visual surroundings such as recognizing other emerging threats or problems with crossfire or background.

    To combat these issues 1) LISTEN, 2) USE GROSS MOTOR CONTROLS, 3) SCAN after a shooting for other threats. Make sure you are checking left, right and behind you. This should also be practiced on the range. But, when you do it on the range LOOK, don't just turn your head.

    Practice Makes Perfect
    Lastly, practicing shooting accurately while under stress will help build up muscle memory and ensure that you are prepared if a potentially dangerous situation arises. When we practice something often enough, our bodies become used to performing those actions without having to think about them too much—which could come in handy if you ever find yourself in a dangerous encounter where quick reflexes are needed for survival. Use barricades when shooting to simulate a real world situation. Again you are going to train like you fight, fight like you train. If you don't use barricades on the range, you won't in a real dynamic situation. Get rid of empty magazines (DROP) on the range. Don't hold on to them. You will do it in a real situation. Keep your non-gun hand free to reload, clear an issue, or support your strong hand.

    Shooting accurately and effectively under stress requires practice and preparation. It's not something that can be mastered overnight; however, with enough training and dedication, it is possible to develop the skills necessary for success when faced with a life-threatening situation. By learning how to control the effects of adrenaline on the body as well as preparing for the fight or flight response triggered by stressful situations, handgun permit holders can gain confidence knowing they have done everything possible to protect themselves should they ever find themselves in danger.

    ohen cepel

    Active Member
    Feb 2, 2011
    Where they send me.
    Just doing 10 push ups and then firing another string from a pistol or rifle will show one how things change.

    I suggest to people that they do things (when reasonable) to push themselves a bit out of the comfort zone. Easy to hit a target when all is well. Tired and doing it with your weak hand is different.

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