View Full Version : How to make a scenario "stressful"?

April 5, 1999, 06:47 PM
I read about people shooting in "stress drills" and competitions and how it makes one's ability diminish. My question is, what are the techniques used to put stress on the person during these drills and competitions?
I would like to simulate them myself with friends if possible, and also know what I am getting into if I sign up for such a competition.


Clay Whitehead
April 6, 1999, 12:07 AM
You might try adding time constraints to add an element of stress. Another way is to make vigorous exercise before shooting the scenario under a time limit. An example is to make the shooter run 50 yards and then shoot a scenario in 10 seconds or less when he/she probably couldn't make that time to start with.

Have the shooter turn his/her back and change the scenario to add elements of surprise and include the time constraint.

Figure out a way to score your scenarios and worst score buys coffee (or whatever). A few of these will get people to improve so they don't have to pay all the time. Any element of pressure will help the shooters prepare for a time when there is a lot of pressure.


Art Eatman
April 6, 1999, 01:11 AM
It's amazing how much stress just going against the clock will induce!

If you really want to up the ante, stand behind the shooter and yell and scream and critique and call names during the string. Or, you can do like some military training: Whip the shooter with a light switch!

Hey, these are ideas, not recommendations--you might want to continue friendly relations...

Rob Pincus
April 6, 1999, 02:34 AM
Standard Disclaimer.. People should be used to firing from the the holster on command and with shooting and moving before they try to induce further stress..

now that we cleared that up....

The excersise bit is a good stress inducer.. but it is no way to make friends with your students. :).

Here are some other ideas:

Shooting and moving causes stress for a lot of people, even after they have practiced it.. Add a time constraint and you are in business for sweat beads.
Throw in random fire orders (multiple targets with the BG being identified by a number.. while the person is walking in a figure 8 or something.. ie: "Gun #3!!"...) and you could have nervous breakdowns.

I've found that taking away the accuracy element and increasing the time and "dynamic" portions of the drill can exponentially increase stress.

Shooters are taught from day one to hit (or at least aim at) a specific point. If you hang a silohuette backwards amd tell someone that they are going to have one second to hit it while moving, on a beep from your timer.. it'll really throw 'em off gaurd the first few times.

Add conversation and props to your drills. A common LEO situation is the traffic stop.. put them about 2 steps from the target with a pad of paper and a pen. have them "interview" the target.. give random orders while they are interviewing ( "Challenge!".. "Headhsot!"... "Shake Hands!")... that'll stir blood, too.
You'd be surprised how many officers will tuck the pad under their arm or lay it down on the ground during their draw, rather than just dropping it.. or better yet using it to distract the BG by throwing it at his head.

For more ideas you might do a search for the "range Reports" threads that I started back in October or November (if they are still in the archives..) there are a lot of advanced drills in their as well.

BUT, if you want real stress... find yourself a good looking women who can outshoot your buddies and have her enter a friendly contest with them.....


Ken Cook
April 6, 1999, 07:23 AM
Art, We never used switches! That's what .30 steel cleaning rods are for!
Ask any recruit that went through Edson range in the years 88,89,and 90!
Whacking a kid on the helmet and screaming "EIGHT ROUND BURST YOU GEEK!" may not make them shoot better, but it gives the instructor something to do while the kid ignores him! :D

Your mind is your primary weapon.

April 6, 1999, 09:20 AM
How 'bout telling the shooter that Congress JUST CHANGED the re-election rules & Clinton's gonna get another term in office !

If that doesn't induce stress, I don't know what would ![b]ROTFLMAO :D :D :D ;)

"The Gun from Down Under !"

April 6, 1999, 04:23 PM
I tried one of these drills in the desert. I turned my back to the hill at about 15 yards. Had my friend line up cans at random heights on the hill and all over the side within a 90 degree arc (three cans about 7 yards apart each at different heights). Then he named the order of fire, what colors to shoot first (such as: hit the middle green Mt Dew can first, then the Dr. Pepper, then the Diet Pepsi).
It was pretty tough. I had to turn around, aquire and fire on a clock.
On my first try at 15 yards I missed most of the cans just high about one or two inches under "rapid" fire. I usually tag them consistently, so that was pretty bad, but I guess that if it were a BG, I would have hit just high of whatever I was aiming at (his heart?).
Anyway, it was a good drill, and definitly made me shoot worse. The toughest part was picking out the color of the can under a timer. Actually, since I had no idea where he placed the cans, just seing them at first was a challenge under stress (fighting "tunnel vision" etc).

Thanks for the above drills, now I have some good ideas.

Question: is there any harm in shooting at cans some of the time and sillouettes at other times? I mean, I know that shooting cans is a "plinking" thing to do and the minute you mention it people think you are a beginner, but is there any harm in making it into good training? Am I learning any bad habits? It is certainly cheap, easy and fun! It is very difficult to drag a target stand, (let alone three of them), out to the desert. I shoot about half the time in the desert, half at the range.


April 6, 1999, 05:05 PM
The "pox on plinking" is perhaps an overstatement. Soda cans at 25-75 yards (okay, big soup cans & 2-liter water-filled plastic bottles at 75...) are great for practicing those head shots that some goons say we'll never have to attempt.

Anybody remember body armor in North Hollywood?

Just try to do it faster from "decision moment," and count every shot.

Clay Whitehead
April 7, 1999, 11:39 PM
Go ahead and use the cans. Improving your marksmanship by hitting small targets under some stress can't hurt.

In the matches we shoot at FAS, we frequently are shooting at 8" steel plates that are used to simulate the BG. I had a couple of 8" diameter T-1 steel plates cut and am using them for the same purpose.

Smaller targets under a time constraint means more stress and better accuracy when you need it. Go for it!!


Art Eatman
April 11, 1999, 01:30 AM
In 1980, nine of us took a defensive/combat pistol class. 750 rounds over a three-day course.

The first day was esentially a no- or low-stress training period, learning the Weaver stance and the sequence of drawing from a holster and firing.

The second day, the stopwatch came out, and we got into "El Presidentes", among other drills.

Except for the nighttime shooting, the stopwatch and time pressure was always part of the deal. By the end of the course, most of the students were shooting 8-second Presidentes, including the two small women--and one of them had never fired a pistol of any sort, before.

I started an IPSC club the next spring, and that ol' stopwatch was a constant. I have seen folks do all manner of weird things from no more than time pressure and competition.

You want stress? Try this: Three IPSC targets, five yards out at 90 degrees left and right, and one in front. You have 1.5 seconds from the buzzer to shoot three head shots. Now, this was the "shoot-off" in 1982, South Africa. This was before the days of race guns and weird holsters. Back then, it was still tactical and practical. Ross Seyfried won, after two or three ties with the other three top scorers...

Or, hang a target on a pulley-ed frame, and let it roll down a sloping wire. Have it appear from behind a wall; go behind a no-shoot and reappear; and disappear...Guys will go nuts!

A stopwatch, and shooting for just that day's bragging rights will induce as much stress as most folks can handle!

Regardless, the only way to deal with the negative effects of stress is continuous training under stressful conditions. With time, you get used to it and feel less pressure. You get used to it. In part, this is why the older race drivers have fewer wrecks in traffic than the newer guys--they've been there before, and don't have as much of the "tunnel-vision" sorts of problems. Practice, practice, practice!

Nighty-bye, Art

[This message has been edited by Art Eatman (edited April 11, 1999).]

Scott Evans
April 20, 1999, 09:12 AM
Throw on an orange Jump suit and do laps around you local county lock-up as a warm-up to your shooting session. If you make it to the range I imagine that your adrenaline level and hart rate will have increased substancialy.

Sorry ………. Just kidding :)

Mike Spight
April 20, 1999, 10:44 AM
Thaddeus: I agree...timed events, shooting for beer or money and/or a little PT prior to shooting are probably the best techniques. Make a course of fire WORTH something (beer, money, a trophy, etc) and it's amazing how worked up a shooter can get.

April 21, 1999, 04:54 AM
How to make a scenario "stressful"?

Invite Rob(administrator) to be team co-ordinator ! ;)

Sorry Rob...LMAO :)

"The Gun from Down Under !"

May 9, 1999, 09:18 AM
The club I'm shooting IDPA at is lucky enough to have a "builder". This means that we have what we've been calling a "mystery match" course of fire. Our builder will build some walls and a door, we'll lay out some targets (usually less than six) for the course of fire then keep it all secret from the shooters that show up on match day. When the buzzer goes off the shooter has to open the door, sort out the threats from the non threats in a course of fire that the shooter hasn't been able to see and plan for. They are some of the most popular COF's.

When designing these COF's, we try to stress the shooter by forcing the unknown on him/her. What I've always found interesting during these stages is how slow everyone shoots compared to the stages that everyone can see, even when the ranges are sometimes point blank and the shooter is allowed to move as much as they want.

We can get a good feel for how well the COF was by hearing comments like..."I was so nervous..."