Slow Down

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

We all train for that one time when everything turns real and we have to face-off against an armed criminal. While I wouldn’t actually wish that on anyone, I recognize that such things can happen, which is why I carry. To date, I haven’t had to draw on anyone, as the four times that I’ve been confronted by a criminal, just showing them that I was armed made them decide that it was a good day to be elsewhere.

Here’s the thing though… all four of those situations could have turned south in a moment, becoming violent and ugly. When someone is bent on violence, it doesn’t take much to set them off. In such a situation, it’s all too easy to be the one who turns a tense situation violent, if we don’t handle it right.

There’s a bit of a dichotomy here, in that we need to draw quickly if we don’t want to catch a bullet, while that drawing quickly could be what turns the situation violent. I’ll have to say, there is no perfect solution to the situation. All I know is that I personally play a cautious game and so far, that has served me well. I can’t say what will happen the next time though.

My bigger concern right now isn’t how soon we draw, but what we do once we do draw. It’s a known fact that being in such a situation causes our bodies to dump adrenalin in the bloodstream as part of the fight or flight reaction. That can be useful in some situations, but it’s definitely not useful when you’ve got a gun in your hand. Adrenalin messes with your fine motor skills, which are necessary for trigger control. In other words, your shooting accuracy will probably go to pot, because of that adrenalin.

In a sense, that’s kind of funny, that something which is supposed to help us fight, actually makes it harder for us to fight… at least with guns, anyway. From a realistic standpoint, that becomes a problem that we have to overcome. The question is, how?

While I haven’t been in an actual shootout, I have done a fair amount of competitive tactical shooting. While not the same level of stress as facing someone holding a gun, the competitive nature of shooting against the clock does raise the adrenalin level, helping to simulate what we would face were it ever to turn real.

Personally, I tend to jerk the trigger when I’ve got adrenalin running through my system. You might react differently, but you will have some sort of negative reaction. For me, this means that every time I’m in one of these competitions, I have a tendency to shoot low and to the left. Even if I manage to hit the target, it won’t be center mass, for the most points.

Ok, so how do I compensate for this?

Amongst other things, I’m a fan of Louis L’Amour, the western author. One piece of advice that is found over and over in his books, is some old-timer telling the new kid on the block to take his time shooting. The old-timer usually adds that the guy who draws and fires rapidly will usually put his first round in the dirt. Even though we’re not talking about a fast-draw duel, there’s some good wisdom in those words.

Tactical shooting, like an old-west shootout, requires drawing and firing rapidly. While I have yet to see anyone put a round in the dirt (actually concrete floor), I’ve seen a lot of people miss with that first shot. I’ve also seen a lot of shooters who are all over the target, even though in normal target practice, they’re good shots.

The solution, as those old-timers say, is to slow down. Draw your gun, align your sights, then pause a split-second to gain control over your muscles. That will allow you to squeeze off the shots neatly, rather than jerking the trigger. More than anything, trigger control is what gives accuracy to your shots. I make a regular habit of doing this, and it has improved my rapid-fire shooting tremendously.

That’s going to be harder to do when the bullets are flying; but that’s all the more reason why it is important. You may only get one or two shots, so you want to make sure they count. It doesn’t matter if the other guy is getting his shots off first, if he’s missing. Those missed shots don’t win the day and may very well hit innocent bystanders. Don’t let their mistakes become yours as well. Show down, take your time, and keep your cool. That way, you can make your shots count.

Doing it right is more important than doing it fast. Like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand, making your shots count is what will keep you alive.

Dr. Rich

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