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Old September 24, 2010, 08:11 PM   #1
Uncle Buck
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Tactical Advantage?

I have been in a few "tactical" situations in which the people I worked with should have had the tactical advantage. i.e., better training, better equipment, team mentality, familiarity with the area. But when the situation got to the point of drawing your weapon and proceeding w/caution, the entire operation was fouled up.

One incident: My partner, junior to me in age and rank, was nominated for every award our squadron could think of. He participated in every training exercise, answered all the inspectors questions correctly, knew everything there was to know about the equipment we used. He was the darling of the squadron.

We responded to an intruder alert in a restricted area. Inside this area there were very high dollar aircraft, weapons and fuel. We found the intruders truck, I instructed him to take a position to the passengers side of our vehicle, to stay in the dark, behind the headlights. I stood outside the driver side door.

Once he was in position, I turned on the take-down lights to illuminate the truck. Using the loud speaker in our vehicle, I asked for anyone who might be in the truck to show themselves. No reply. Repeated call with same response.

I approached the truck and shining the flashlight into the window of the truck I saw ammunition, spotting scope, a large knife and other things of that type on the front seat. When I opened the door to the truck, there was a rifle behind the seat and a pistol case on the floor under the drivers seat. I called all this in over radio, requested back-up and instructed my partner to turn on the overhead bubble lights to mark our spot so responding patrols would know our precise location. No response from him. I had to go back to the vehicle and do this myself, and my partner would not answer his radio or respond to voice request for his status and location.

Going around the back of the truck, I found my partner in the prone position, frozen. I took his weapon and proceed to direct arriving patrols. We took control of the scene and secured the area, the intruder was located, the incident was terminated with out anyone getting hurt.


My point in this is he (my partner) was trained and trained and trained on how to respond to this type of situation. He froze. Because of his inaction, if the situation had turned bad, someone we were counting on would be out of the game.

I ran in to this type of situation on several occasions while serving in the Kuwait/Iraq area.

Now here on the forum I see a lot of people talking about tactical advantages by doing this or that when it comes to carrying a firearm, or responding to certain things in a certain type of way.

The cynical part of me always wonders whether they are actually capable of doing or responding to things the way they say they will, or are they just armchair commandos who have read a book, played video games and learned everything they know from other keyboard commandos.

I would like to hear your stories and opinions of these kinds of "Tactical" threads.
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Old September 24, 2010, 11:35 PM   #2
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(No tactical experience, here)
I think most people try their best to find ideas that have a good chance of working. People talk about tactical advantages, but I don't really see "tactical solutions" discussed much. The world is open-ended in many ways, and most people seem to realize that.

I've been in a couple high-stress situations, and found that after an initial shock, I can act reasonably well. I think sound action in a crisis is partially a learned skill and partially inherent (and a lack of either can prove problematic).
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Old September 25, 2010, 05:16 AM   #3
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Off to T&T ...
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Old September 25, 2010, 05:31 AM   #4
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Probably the vast majority of us...

... have not been in direct firefights, and will never be in one.

Hopefully, that remains true. Odds are that it will. If the only opinions sought are those of people who have been there, done that, then OP's should so specify when they start up a new thread.

Even so, odds are good that there are a significant number of veterans among TFL members. Odds are also good that non-veterans have had some stressful situations forced upon them, and may have some idea how they handle stress.

There may be a bunch of Walter Mitty types online, too - that's an ever-present risk in the online world. But even they might be able to offer intelligent, if vicarious, insights.

The cynical part of me agrees with Uncle Buck. The practical side of me wishes we had some sort of local TFL social events - for instance, a range day. We could find out pretty quickly who can actually shoot worth a darn; some of us could also test or demo theories and tactics discussed in other threads. (I'd be quite happy to get together with WC145 and others, so we could try retention drills and such. Not sniping at WC145, I actually think he'd have some worthwhile things to show me.)

I personally know at least one of the mods; think I'll ask him if TFL ever hosts this kind of thing.

Cheers,

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Old September 25, 2010, 07:51 AM   #5
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Bud: Thanks for moving this to the appropriate forum.

MLeake: Not just veterans. I have been in some serious situations as a civilian and have seen others lock up.

I wonder if it is just in a person to react under stress, or to freeze up, and training does the best to weed these folks out?

I was with a friend in Kansas City, he is a mousy looking guy, small, wears dockers and button up shirts, thick glasses and does not stand up straight. I had only known him for a few weeks and we were going to have lunch while our wives finished their business. Neither of us were armed.

I am now balding, slightly over-weight and walk with a limp and a cane.

We passed an alley and three hoods decided we were fair game and demanded our wallets. One of them pulled a knife and my buddy went into overdrive... He used Tae Kwon Do to put an end to that incident. It was right out of the movies. He was the last guy you would have thought would be able to handle a situation like that the way he did.

His biggest concern was that his wife would notice he tore the sleeve on his shirt....

Never judge a book by the cover, but always suspect what it says on the inside...
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Old September 25, 2010, 08:36 AM   #6
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This, I believe is not related to SD of the individual but more to toward the Infantryman or LE Officer.

There are several stages of "fear" if you will.

When first confronted, one normally charges in, without thinking, (this is the state where the training first kicks in
).

After the incident is protracted, and the individual thinks about the situation, then the "freezing", its quite common. You are afraid to engage the enemy as you don't want to "make him mad". The length of this state varies between the individual and the situation. At this point, this is where leadership comes in. The leader had to motivates the individual into action.

The leader convinces the individual, the more fire power you put out, the less the enemy will return. The next stage kicks in, you become aggressive, you fight back. This is also the stage where you are at the point where you realize you don't want to let your comrades down. You realize your best chances are sticking together, covering each others back.

This stage is normally followed by anger, though there is still fear, anger takes over and you push forward. (this is the most productive form of fear).

Following the anger/fear stage, is the "don't care phase" often coupled with hate. As this stage progresses it becomes dangerous.

This is "general", it varies with the individual and the threat. I do believe every one goes through the freezing phase at one point or other. The real threat is the HATE stage, that puts the individual and his comrades in danger.

This is something I've witness over and over with every New Guy we got.
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Old September 25, 2010, 12:04 PM   #7
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I thought the Psych tests are built to weed out the type of people that will panic or freeze up in those type of situations.

Then again you get a lot of the politics involved where Psych tests are overlooked.
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Old September 25, 2010, 01:39 PM   #8
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I may be wrong, . . . but I believe down in my deepest recesses that people are pretty much hard wired from birth to be daring, . . . to be cowards, . . . or to fall somewhere in the middle, . . . and I don't believe there is much that can be done to change that.

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Old September 25, 2010, 03:38 PM   #9
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Extreme Fear - good read on such processes. Training works to remove such but it can reach out anytime and grab someone.

Look how great ball players seize up and miss a free throw for instance.
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Old September 25, 2010, 03:49 PM   #10
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I don't think anyone can know what another person, or themselves, will do in a tight situation until they are in one. until then we can train and play verbal what ifs so that if we stay functional we will have some pre-planned responses.

Most likely a small percentage are empty boasters or courageous-at-play types, but I believe most people engaging in tactical what-ifs are truly trying to be as prepared mentally as possible. We just won't know until the time comes whether we stay functional or freeze up or run for the hills.

I don't know how well you can train for something like the stress of imminent life and death danger except to engage in risky activities and find out. Nowadays our society does its best to "protect" everyone from insult, and the littlest owie, let alone death.

For me I think it was a combination of having a father who demonstrated total fearlessness in the face of danger setting that expectation in my subconcious; and doing riskier things in my youth like football, rock climbing, commercial diving, roofing, etc. in which you encounter daily situations of possible grave bodily harm or death. At some point you learn that you just have to accept the risk and get on with it if you are going to function. And if you let fear hold you then you are at even more risk. So either cast fear aside and forge ahead boldly or get the heck out of there before you get yourself or someone else hurt.

But if you are raised in a bubble of social protection (padded play equipment, non-violent sports, etc.) then you probably will have inkling as to how you will react until it is suddenly upon you. Your reaction may be genetic or subconscious but it won't be based on similar experiences.

Even now I am not sure how I would react in a shooting instance as I have never been in one and it might be different enough for me to be put off balance. I know have reacted well in other armed and unarmed encounters but shooting might be different.

I wouldn't judge a person so much on their first experience, but I would on the second or third. The first can be a surprise, the next ones shouldn't be an the person should have had time to reflect and practice better responses.
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Old September 25, 2010, 04:19 PM   #11
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I may be wrong, . . . but I believe down in my deepest recesses that people are pretty much hard wired from birth to be daring, . . . to be cowards, . . . or to fall somewhere in the middle, . . . and I don't believe there is much that can be done to change that.
The value of training can’t be overstated, that being said I have to agree with the above. As a street cop for 27 years I, like every other cop, had a few situations occur that had the potential go get dangerous. For reasons I never understood I did my job to the best of my ability and all in all things went well, I always made it home as did anyone I was working with.
I do remember one occasion, a late night, felony car stop, and no cover available. Exited my curser weapon in hand intending to use hood and front fender for cover as I ordered suspects out of their vehicle. Before I got into place I started to get tunnel vision and “gray out” I had to slap myself in the face with my left hand so hard that I had a red mark on my cheek and jaw for the rest of the night.

As for Uncle Bucks young assistant it may be time for him to rethink his career choice.

I take read most of these tactical threads with a careful eye, especially the ones that lean towards the attitude of “kill them all, and let God sort it out.”
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Old September 25, 2010, 08:45 PM   #12
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One will not know what actions or inactions will occur until it happens the first time. Even the second time. And paralyzing fear could happen on any occasion. Training helps, and experienced soldiers are more likely to react effectively than highly trained but inexperienced civilian enforcement personnel.

Once one is past the first time, there are good predictors for what a person will do. Having the support of your team, being a part of it, is a big help. It sometimes makes you do what you must. Being, alone, as the poster's partner was in a way, can be the worst.

I think tactical advantage is critial and must be used in those moments when one has it. Aggressive action, momentum, training, are all important. But so is having the willingness to kill and risk being killed. Not everyone can do that.
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Old September 25, 2010, 09:19 PM   #13
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how did you handle your 1st tactical encounter, right out of school. were you "cool as a cucumber", did everything go as planned, no1 hurt.

you seem to look back on this with more experience than the new guy who had all the answers but choked, nothing much different than shake-n-bake 2nd lt's.

you gotta get on the bus for the 1st ride and le/military isn't the only profession that sees choking in the 1st stressful encounter.

i was a peter pilot helicopter pilot in rvn for 4 months/learning the ropes, then aircrraft commander and went on to a 38 year career because some of the stuff i learned in handling pressure in those 1st four months.

you assumed the guy could handle himself, big mistake on your part.
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Old September 25, 2010, 09:34 PM   #14
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Going around the back of the truck, I found my partner in the prone position, frozen.
Coming from a auto racing background, this kind of thing sometimes occurs when someone is taking a " street survival " type of driving class ( this is a "how to handle a car in the real world" and not a racing class )

Drivers sometimes freeze on the throttle or throw up their hands and cover their eyes. Some of this comes from, as others have said, being too insulated from the real world and not having to do things for ones self. Or from being too used to a predictable progression of events and not being able to make it up as you go along. ( Thinking on your feet )
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Old September 25, 2010, 11:13 PM   #15
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Bearone2 wrote:

Quote:
how did you handle your 1st tactical encounter, right out of school. were you "cool as a cucumber", did everything go as planned, no1 hurt.
Actually I was told I handled it very well. An individual was shooting in to the weapons storage area. Took cover, assessed the situation and was hoping I would have the chance to return fire. They never did find out who it was though that was shooting in to the area.

I called in the information, short and brief, but accurate.

I realize stress affects people different ways and different things will cause your stress level to rise.
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Old September 26, 2010, 09:20 PM   #16
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so you really didn't get put to the test but whined dearly about the guy who choked even though he had all the answers.
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Old September 27, 2010, 03:38 PM   #17
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Take the high ground first. thats about all I know on tactical...
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Old September 27, 2010, 04:02 PM   #18
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Not tactical, but I worked construction for years & saw many bad or fatal accidents. Some give first aid & help all they can. Others just freeze up & can not help. I think it is just how we are wired, but training sure does play a big part.
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Old September 27, 2010, 04:35 PM   #19
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Two years ago, I drove up on the scene of my teenage son's pickup truck ... upside down. Against a tree. After rolling multiple times. His bloody body was lying in the street while grim paramedics worked over him and other grim paramedics looked for the missing body of my other son. His best friend was airlifted to the nearest major trauma center.

After parking, I walked up toward the scene and said to one of the EMTs, "That's my son. May I...?" -- and she immediately responded, "I know it's hard but you need to stand over there." I said okay and stood over there. No tears, no hysterics, just ... watching.

I watched as they looked, fruitlessly, for my missing younger son -- who to the best of my knowledge had been inside the cab with the other boys, who knew not to ever ride in the bed, and who was nowhere to be found. But there was a lot of tall grass that the truck had rolled through.

When someone asked for a phone number, I gave it to them.

That's what I do under stress. I go cold and calm. Inside I was -- well, if I'd started screaming I wouldn't have stopped, because at that point I had every reason to believe that one of my children was dead and that one of my other children had killed him along with his best friend. But neither freezing nor screaming would have helped the situation, so I did what I needed to do.

Later on, I drove to my son's best friend's parents' house. And I walked up the sidewalk and I knocked on the front door and I told one of my closest friends that her son was on his way to the trauma center and that my son had put him there. Hardest thing I've ever done, bar none. And I didn't shed a tear -- not because I wasn't wailing inside, but because I still had to drive to the hospital to be with my own son, and because if I started crying I knew I would not stop and would definitely not be able to drive.*

Is that the same thing as functioning under life threatening stress? I don't know. It sure felt like my world was coming apart, and as if I was able to hold it together by sheer willpower and not much else. And it gives me hope that I would do as I've been trained to do, staying frosty and under control despite strong reason to do otherwise.

Those who say you "can't know" what you would do are right in one sense: until you've been in a situation, you can't know how well your training holds up. On the other hand, you can certainly know how you respond to other types of stressful situations, including life-threatening ones. Do you panic in traffic? Or just calmly do what you need to do? Or something in between?

When a homicidal tree tried to kill me awhile back, I experienced nearly all the adrenalin-fueled psych/physio reactions you might expect: time distortion, auditory exclusion, tunnel vision, everything -- the whole nine yards -- up to and including a strong, visual "memory" that simply cannot be a true record of the event. But I didn't freeze and I didn't panic. (I did trip over my own feet, like the klutz I am & always have been.) But I took the escape route we'd discussed beforehand and I ran the direction that should have been safest as we had pre planned "just in case things go bad."

So I have reason to believe that I'll do what I need to do if & when the time ever comes. In the meanwhile, I'll continue to build my own defensive mindset by reinforcing my strengths and refusing my doubts. That's about all you can do.

pax

* The boys were all fine. Younger son turned out not to have been in the truck at all. Older son walked out of the hospital the next morning, still loopy but basically intact. And my son's best friend walked out of the trauma center the next day, miraculously whole except for six stitches in his face. God is good. (And my son still has nightmares.)
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Old September 27, 2010, 08:20 PM   #20
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Bear2one wrote:

Quote:
so you really didn't get put to the test but whined dearly about the guy who choked even though he had all the answers.
Yeah, I did get put to the test. You asked about the first time. I do not know what you mean by "really didn't get put to the test."

I was not "whining" about the other guy, I used him as an example.

I have been shot at, shot, pulled people from wrecks and recovered fallen comrades when they did not make it. Like Pax, I just seem to go cold and react as required.

Pax Wrote:
Quote:
In the meanwhile, I'll continue to build my own defensive mindset by reinforcing my strengths and refusing my doubts. That's about all you can do.
That is a great way of looking at it and I think you probably nailed it on the head.
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Old September 28, 2010, 04:59 AM   #21
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The idea of being "cold" is the trick. This is simply instinct and training taking over. As for Pax story, as a mother I am sure there was a great amount of fear in her mind but what could she do to stop what had already happened? Nothing, it was better to simply do as she was told to stand by. Getting shot at incites a bit of fear that if not controlled will cause rash decisions. Emotions get in the way of instinct and reaction. Watch animals, do they seem nervous when hunting? Yes, but does that fear stop them from doing anything? No because the small amount of emotion is pushed aside by instinct and hunger. (Desire to live)

Just my thoughts...
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Old September 28, 2010, 10:13 AM   #22
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As for Pax story, as a mother I am sure there was a great amount of fear in her mind but what could she do to stop what had already happened? Nothing, it was better to simply do as she was told to stand by.
BlackFeather,

Ask any EMT how often they need to restrain hysterical family members at the scene of major car accidents and other life-threatening events. Just because the best thing to do is nothing, doesn't mean people do it. But sometimes the best thing to do is nothing -- whether we're talking tactics or accident scenes. The human urge to "do something! ANYTHING!" has been the source of untold stupidities over the years.

A tactical example: once upon a time I stayed the night in an unfamiliar three-story house with an alarm system that had been acting up. Around 2 in the morning, the system beeped. It didn't alarm, just beeped as if someone had opened a door downstairs despite the fact that it had been set to alarm if the doors were opened. But the system had been acting up and wasn't to be trusted... so there probably wasn't anyone there.

What's the tactically "right" thing to do in such a situation? Go back to sleep? Uh uh, no way no how. Not going to get my throat slashed in my sleep.

Jump up immediately and search the house? Bzzzt! That's pure stupid. There wasn't anyone else in the house that I needed to protect, and anyone downstairs could easily ambush me as I came down the exposed staircase.

Call the cops? Nope, because the system was acting up and wasn't to be trusted. No sense in calling the cops for a call that was 98% certain to be a false alarm.

But there was still that 2% possibility of disaster. So --

How 'bout the functional equivalent of "doing nothing" for at least 15 or 20 minutes, while listening and smelling and otherwise extending your senses knowing that if anyone is in the house they'll (eventually) make a sound? THEN go investigate the noise. That's probably the best answer. But it's a very (very!) difficult choice for a fully-adrenalized alpha type person to make.

No real point here, except to say that every person is different and every situation is different. But learning to keep your own behavior under rational control, despite the presence of strong emotions that might urge you to do something stupid, is probably a pretty good first step to having a "Tactical Advantage" as the OP observed.

If you're scared of heights, force yourself to clean the gutters. If you're scared of big dogs, volunteer at the local humane society and force yourself to work with them. If needles wig you out, regularly give blood. Do what it takes to keep your rational behavior independent of your emotional reactions.

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Old September 28, 2010, 11:11 AM   #23
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Doing nothing until the situation is at least somewhat understood...

... is something we called "sitting on our hands" in flight training.

While this isn't specifically firearms related, the idea of responding under stress should be very much on point.

Anyway, the concept is that doing the wrong thing, quickly, can be much worse than doing nothing. For example, on takeoff, a light twin aircraft swerves, its climb performance drops, and its speed starts to slow. Obviously an engine (or possibly prop) problem. Shutting down the wrong engine at this point would result in a glider; it might even be worse than a glider, if the problem engine's prop is still windmilling and creating drag.

Same idea, when a fire light illuminates during initial climb. If the fire isn't confirmed by other indications, do I shut down immediately, or use power to clear obstacles first? (By the way, if there are obstacles on the climb path, I should have planned for them ahead of time, and have some idea of the safest direction to turn the aircraft in the event of this sort of problem.)

Same idea, aircraft departs controlled flight and enters a spin. Which rudder do I push? If I push the wrong one, I can double the rate of spin, or worse, and make recovery much more difficult.

I've been flying for twenty years now, and have had these sorts of situations pop up. At least as far as moderately high stress flying scenarios have gone, I've reverted to training. This is one reason why I'm a big believer in realistic and intensive training, to the extent that it can be safely conducted.

Will that sort of training kick in if I find myself in a firefight? I can't say. It hasn't happened. But based on flying, boating, motorcycling... I'd have to say that when stress makes conscious thought difficult, my body really does fall back on learned responses and muscle memory.

Sometimes that learned response is to wait a moment, to make sure I don't make things worse.

Regards,

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Old September 28, 2010, 02:13 PM   #24
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Training can prepare a person for that moment. Without going into specifics, a good example is dive training with a swimming buddy. Being confident in your partner to pull you out allows you to push yourself beyond what you think you could normally do. Facing that same stress level in an operational environment is now slightly more familiar.

While it might be more familiar, the fear level is the same. It comes down to how a person addresses that fear in their mind. Like sports, I firmly believe that 'going kinetic' is 90% mental, and the other half is physical (thanks Yogi). The strength and calmness required to stay in the moment with lead in the air, to rely on your stuff (in baseball parlence), and not entertain an internal "what if" conversation is a learned, practiced skill.

My question is, did this young star recover and perform the next time?
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Old September 28, 2010, 02:54 PM   #25
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Ask any EMT how often they need to restrain hysterical family members at the scene of major car accidents and other life-threatening events
+100 there, wife is EMT on VFD here, I hear stories.

My Mom told me about labor and delivery. She was a skrub nurse, delivered a lot of babies, some gals are quite and do as told, some fall to pieces and scream their heads off.

Is the way people are, some are quite and composed in all events, some fall to pieces nad cannot handle the stress.

Seen it in hunting too, guy talks about all the deer he killed, I put him on a huge buck, he froze, could not pull the trigger.
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