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Old April 9, 2011, 12:39 AM   #1
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Keeping a cool head.

I have heard a thousand scenarios of the general "BG with a gun, What do you do?"
There are thousands of answers that involve a physical reaction.
The one question that racks me the most when I read through these scenarios and ask myself, "what would I do?" is how do I train myself to keep a level head?
I do not want to over react or under react in a situation that could result in death.
My friends and I used to get into fights in high school. I mastered being able to stay very clam when a fight would break out. But that was usually when the fight did not involve me. When a fight did involve me I had zero control.
I know that if I cannot naturally level off I am capable of making a mistake, and that mistake could be permanent death for the wrong person.
I am not familiar in this training area but I want to be so that I can trust myself to obtain some type of level tactical thinking in a life or death situation.
The only thing I can think of are some type of high stress live fire training on a consistent basis.
What do you guys know that could help me achieve this?
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Old April 9, 2011, 01:12 AM   #2
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What has helped me remain calm in stressful situations is to run scenarios through my head long before I need them and when I am perfectly calm. This lets me make rational decisions about what to do when/how while making sure my actions will be legally justifiable, appropriate and safe. Also, I run these scenarios in great detail (not just that I will draw and move, but how I will draw and where I am moving to, etc...) until the threat is handcuffed.

Also, if I am going to a situation that might be dangerous (I am a cop my previous jobs were all in the security field), I begin running through scenarios based upon the location and call type so I am prepared when I arrive. This has helped me tremendously because I have a plan. When things start to get out of control, chances are I have thought out this scenario before, I dust of the plan and put it to use. This gives the appearance of having a level head.

Because you know you can overreact, you are aware of it. Try to remember this when you are in stressful situations and calm yourself down. One technique, which has a variety of names, is to control your breathing. Breath in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, release it for four seconds, hold for four seconds, repeat as needed (if you have larger/smaller lungs, you can increase/decrease the seconds as needed). This will slow down your breathing and help reduce the effects of adrenaline, letting you think logically through the situation. Two books I recommend that address this are On Killing and On Combat.

Also, as you suggested, if you can find some good force on force training in your area, it is very useful. FoF training is great for preparing lethal force situations and thinking through what you need to do. If you cannot find FoF training you can attend, the other thing you can do is imagine you are in those situations when you are at the range. As much as you can safely do so within the range rules/safety constraints, try running through some scenarios on paper targets. If you put yourself into the mentality of being in the scenario, then force yourself to calm down and think through it, you will begin training yourself to think instead of just react. I find this works best if someone else can set up the targets for you so you do not know what to expect. I cannot overemphasize to be extremely safety conscience while doing this, though.

I hope this helps, YMMV.
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Old April 9, 2011, 02:10 AM   #3
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What has helped me remain calm in stressful situations is to run scenarios through my head long before I need them and when I am perfectly calm.

It's a form of pre-conditioning. While your real life scenario may not be exactly like the one you thought up, it is closer than nothing. Another good thing to do is run scenarios in your head as you go about your daily life in public. Sort of a "What If" game.

For example: You're standing in line at the local Stop & Rob. You are the second person in line and you ask yourself what you would do if the patron in front of you pulled a gun and demanded the money from the clerk. Another one is, you are walking with your significant other down a sidewalk. Ask yourself what you would do if the person walking the other way, down the same sidewalk, stopped in front of you and showing a knife told you to give him $5.00.

You are only limited by your imagination, but please try to keep it real. Don't ask yourself about the zombie hordes.

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Old April 9, 2011, 05:31 AM   #4
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I agree that training and repetition will prevent you from hitting the panic button and allow you to think "on the fly."

During my combat days, the first couple of times in a firefight it took every ounce of fortitude to keep myself from panicking, and seeing my fellow troops keeping their cool really helped. It didn't take long to realize that one thinks better under stress if one keeps their cool. Still, not the easiest thing to do with the adrenaline pumping away. It was the repetition of firefighting, being prepared, knowing what to expect, that made it easier (but not easy) to deal with.

During my days as an Airline Pilot, we trained and trained for every conceivable scenario so that if and when it should occur, it was a routine matter. Being prepared, self-confident, and knowing I had excellent training was the key.

The real question becomes, how do you simulate this on the streets in the civilian world? As suggested, by creating mind games and playing them over and over is certainly a way to self train. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that has a tactical training course, investment in that type of training will be beneficial in building your ability and self confidence. And if you don't live in an area with availability of that training, consider attending a course at a place like Thunder Ranch or Front Site, just to name a couple.
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Old April 9, 2011, 08:49 AM   #5
Don P
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I will say that taking on the responsibility of carrying a firearm for personal protection one must use restraint and do their best to keep a calm level head. There ain't no whistling to bring back that bullet that leaves the barrel. Also we must remember that because we carry to protect ourselves and family we are NOT free lance LE. Choose our battles with extreme care and caution.
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Old April 9, 2011, 11:46 AM   #6
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Most people default to their training. So the short answer is get training.

If someone has no training in dealing with a situation then a lot of people will panic or flee.
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Old April 9, 2011, 11:57 AM   #7
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While I would never claim that competition stress is near to combat stress, competition in USPSA/IPSC, IDPA, or similar types will expose you to a small amount of stress. It also forces speedy manipulation of your sidearm, under 'unknown' circumstances.

In short, it can expand your 'tactical toolbox', expose you to different techniques, let you see and try new/other equipment, and meet some fine folks of a similar mindset.
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Old April 9, 2011, 01:41 PM   #8
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I agree that training and repetition will prevent you from hitting the panic button and allow you to think "on the fly."
Good advice, as the old saw goes, "you will fight like you trained." Now the only trick I have used was to tell myself to STOP THINK.

Remember the man or woman who keeps their wits when everyone else has lost theirs will win 99.5% of the time.
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Old April 9, 2011, 02:16 PM   #9
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Mental rehearsals of common scenarios is good. Rehearsing a decision flow is good as well, as it allows more flexibility within dynamic situations. Know the common indicators of trouble, and rehearse your response to them.

Setting up "discrimination" target drills is great too. You should get some picture targets with some targets being threats, and others being innocents. I recommend getting some prop pictures to place on the targets (gun, knife, iPhone, empty hand, wallet, badge, etc). If someone else can place them on the targets, you must run through your drill by quickly analyzing which targets are threats and which are bystanders/good guys.

If you have a couple friends who are interested in training, I recommend getting gas-blowback airsoft pistols that replicate your carry pieces. You'll need some goggles and a controlled space. You can run through simple Force on Force scenarios this way.
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Old April 9, 2011, 09:26 PM   #10
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Combat Drills

I have experience in the Army in the world of combat preparation than I ever could in the civilian world. It helped me when I went into combat zones, but I am not sure it fully applies in the civilian world. In the Army, we rehearsed for many scenarios, many of which I never had to deal with. Some of the other things, I did face.

When I deployed into a hazardous duty area, I accepted the possibility I may not survive it and applied my profession to the best of my ability. I think if I allowed myself to see the risks and how it would impact my family, it would have been too distracting and it would have undermined my mission and maybe my safety.

It is sort of like when I raced cars and motorcycles, sometimes on the street and sometimes on a proper track. Eventually, I confined my racing to the track. I did the preparation in great detail and considered the possible disasters that could occur. I accepted the risk and applied my craft. One track has a high speed straight with a tight series of turns at the end. It felt like I was threading a needle a mile away. The concentration I needed to make it at full speed was very high. All other thoughts were pushed from my consciousness. My ability was not made during show time; it was made in the preparation and drills in formal training and practice.

I think the combat drill would work. Basically, we are looking at a high stakes sport called survival. I do not wish to sound glib, but if you allow the weight of the event rest on your shoulders, it will crush you. Clearly, the game is played by rules, but this is all part of the preparation.

One final thing I will note is that in all my years of carrying weapons openly, people almost never have feared me or or what I could do. You should never count on your opponent fearing you or your weapon.
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Old April 9, 2011, 10:09 PM   #11
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Stay alert, stay alive...

I didn't read all the forum posts yet but I'd add these remarks;

Many years ago, gun writer & sworn LE officer Massad Ayoob wrote about this topic. Ayoob wrote that as a armed citizen or armed professional you should be a mature adult & avoid petty disputes or conflicts that could escalate into a violent or critical incident. Avoiding or reducing trouble is far better than being caught off guard or forced to act.
You should also be alert and aware of your surroundings.

While I was going around on Fri, 04/08/2011 doing errands, I had to make 3 different people aware of something. These 3 adults were talking on cell phones, reading or unaware of what was going on or just not paying attention.
As a armed citizen or sworn LE officer you should be responsible & prepared to act IAW your skills or training.

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