According to the Department of Justice, you have a greater than 50% chance of experiencing a violent attack at some point in your life.
And if you legally own a gun — and maybe even a concealed weapons permit — you probably believe you’re ready for whatever the bad guys can dish out.
Well, think again.
Even if you practice shooting at a range regularly, you’re probably not ready for a real gunfight. And you’d be surprised at how overconfident you can become from playing with all that cool gear you bought, including the spiffy concealed-carry holster.
Even if you have experience with the military or with law enforcement, your mind can play tricks on you when you confront an enemy as a civilian.
But you say: "Jeff, it does increase my chances of success if I have to do that street tango with bad guys or if thugs come crashing through my home in the middle of the night. Right?" Wrong!
Let’s first accept the fact that … when it comes to your family, you are the only thing standing between you and that animal that is trying to hurt them.
|When you face a real shooter, will you fight, flee or, worst of all, freeze?|
Why isn’t your gun enough? Because the very brain and nervous system that control all aspects of your life also play a major role in your actions and reactions to stress. Just because you have a gun does not mean that you will have the ability to use it efficiently or accurately during an attack.
Everyone has likely heard of the "fight-or-flight response." That is the body’s primitive response to life-threatening situations.
We are all hard-wired with "fight-or-flight," right?
Yes. When faced with danger, a primitive part of your brain kicks in to prepare you to fight or flee. It pumps adrenalin and other hormones through your system, jumpstarts your heart rate and turns your lungs into air-sucking bellows.
That’s the good news. Now here’s the bad news …
The same fight-or-flight response can inhibit your ability to perform fine motor-skill movements, like aiming and pulling a trigger. Sometimes the response will interfere with even gross movements, depending upon a person’s nature, experience and training. Along the way, your primitive brain shuts down a bunch of stuff that it considers "non-essential."
Yet, for decades, behavioral scientists have concluded that the primitive brain triggered only the two responses — fight or flight.
But I am here to tell you from experience that it isn’t always like that. Actually, in most instances, people don’t run or attack, they simply FREEZE!
Imagine that you and your wife are fast asleep and your two young children are also sleeping on the other side of the house. It’s 3 a.m., and you suddenly wake from a deep sleep at the sound of glass breaking. You sit up in bed and shake your wife awake.
At this point, your fight-or-flight response has already kicked in, sending your heart rate and respiration climbing. Sensing danger, your wife’s primitive brain triggers her maternal instincts, so she rushes to her children. You hear footsteps and voices; clearly there are unwanted visitors in your house…
One thing is for certain, the sheer terror of the situation will cause most people to freeze! I’ve seen it in real life — and that was with guys who had been in gunfights.
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So how long do people freeze in these types of dangerous situations? That depends on the type of experience and training they have had.
At the outset, you may recall I said having a gun and going to the range to practice with it is not enough. Well, that is true if you don’t train with that gun under stress. And it’s true if you don’t practice using the gun in the same ways you might need to in a rough-and-tumble shootout.
A simple example of this takes us back to the shooting range. Many folks stand at the point and take on the classic Weaver Stance.
In the Weaver Stance, you grip the pistol with two hands, the fingers of your weak hand wrapped over the fingers of your strong hand around the gun grip. Your body is bladed to the threat.
You extend your strong arm almost completely while you bend the elbow of your weak arm downward. Now push your strong arm toward the target while you pull against it with the weak arm. This isometric tension creates a good stable shooting position … at the range.
But the range is a controlled environment. So what happens when two bad guys are in your house in the middle of the night? What happens when you have to shoot from a covered position? Or fire while on the move? And those techniques are the simpler aspects of a gunfight. The sheer stress of a life-or-death struggle usually overwhelms most people.
Consequently, the "controlled" manner in which people practice with their weapons — like squaring off with a target at the range — doesn’t properly prepare people because there is no stress and no fear.
No, you cannot just improvise your way to responding to these guys in your house in the middle of the night. So what’s the solution? Here’s how I prepare people for conflicts with firearms…
My 3-Step Training Process
to Align the Connections Between
Your Mind, Your Body and Your Gun.
- Train in a variety of environments so that you are accustomed to the physical obstacles that may interfere with you. And so that you are training your body to naturally adapt to such obstacles.
- It’s not easy, but you must train to defend yourself in conditions that will startle, stress and even shock your body.
- Introduce stress factors into your training. This could mean anything from loud music to learning how to shoot from a variety of positions, from cover as well as on the move. It could mean shooting nearly blind while in the dark or while wearing dark glasses. It could mean shooting deaf by wearing noise-canceling headphones. Take note of the limitations you discover in yourself so that you can adapt before the real-life scenario unfolds.
Finally, always remember the wisdom of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela:
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!