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Old July 5, 2005, 10:43 AM   #1
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Tunnel vision? Shaking hands? is this common?

I never had to draw a weapon on anyone so I wasnt sure how I would act when the SHTF.

But last night I woke up because I thought I heard a glass breaking, like a window or something, I woke up, stood in bed for several seconds waiting for another sound, I heard what I thought was foot steps!!! My heart started pounding, I reached over to grab the p99, it fell on the floor, my hands were shaking violently, heart pounding, breathing was very heavy, I got on the floor got the walther cleared the holster, put on my flip flops and started to make my way to the door of my room, my heart was pounding so hard my chest was hurting a little, I could hear my heart beating, I never had tunnel vision like this, I could only see directly infront of me, I thought my eyes were failing because of it being so dark, but the TV was on in the living room, i was looking around with the gun chamered and ready to rock, pointing straight ahead. I walked slowly to my roomates room and knocked his door, he opened the door and i told him i heard something, he saw my gun so he quickly went and got his, asked me if i cleared the living room, i told him i couldnt see, he cleared the living room, cleared the house, and said that no windows were broken, door was locked.

I dont know what window i heard break, or what footsteps i heard, and why i reacted that way, I have 20/20 vision, healthy, young, and i never felt like that... scared the crap out of me. I sat on the sofa for a few minutes, after about 10 minutes i was down to normal, drank some water and went to bed, i couldnt sleep all night.

This ever happen to anyone? I'm angry at myself, I never would of thought I would fold so badly under pressure!!

oh yeah the TV was on MUTE. sound didnt come from there.
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Old July 5, 2005, 10:56 AM   #2
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What you had was a perfectly normal "fight or flight" reaction to perceived danger. The trick in gun training is that you can't really train for this adrenaline-caused reaction. You can only find out when the dangerous situation happens how you will react. It is good that this happened once and there was no danger so you will know better what to expect if it happens again. And no, you didn't "fold" and this is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be concerned about when you do have to fight. Or flee.

I have been in several false alarm situations like the one you described and I never have gotten over the dry mouth, tunnel vision, pounding heart, shaking hands, etc. It is most important that you STAY COOL MENTALLY and IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET if you have to use the gun for it is the tunnel vision and shaking hands that can cause mistaken shootings.

Welcome to the Club of Those Who Have Tasted Fear and Lived.
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Old July 5, 2005, 02:03 PM   #3
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Annie, I have to completely disagree with you on this. You can train for this scenario. Force on force training with quality instruction will help raise your threshold to the adrenaline dump. In combat mindset terminology, Cougar went into condition Black. No fault of his owm he was sleeping. But b/c his body has never experienced or trainined for this type of physiologocal response, the mind takes much longer to focus and control your gross and finally fine motor skills. Going from sleep to Orange in an untrained mind leads to Black (Overload).
Cougar, do not beat yourself up. Get some training. Go to courses that have FOF trainng, that teach mental preparedness and put you in dynamic situations. Short of getting in gunfights everyday, this is the best you can do. This is why military and LE constantly train this way. Repeated scenarios train the mind and body to act on recognized bits of situations.
Everyone in situations like this have some type of responses. The amount of training, type of training and mental preparation will help you out tremendously.
Good luck.
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Old July 5, 2005, 03:24 PM   #4
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I'd have to go in between the last posts. Yes the reaction floods your system with adrenaline and you get the shakes etc. However training will get you away from hearing the sound and saying in panic 'this is it '. With training you say 'what was that sound ' and take precautions ,getting the gun etc.
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Old July 5, 2005, 03:28 PM   #5
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he opened the door and i told him i heard something, he saw my gun so he quickly went and got his, asked me if i cleared the living room, i told him i couldnt see, he cleared the living room, cleared the house, and said that no windows were broken, door was locked.
No offense, but with your hands shaking like that, if I were your roommate, I think I would have taken cover and waited for you to sound the "all clear". You're a lot more likely to be shot when there are two guys running around with guns, shakey hands and tunnel vision that you are to be shot by an intruder who breaks in while you're home. Think about getting a dog. Violently shaking hands is not a reaction that a guy with a gun "ready to rock" should have.
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Old July 5, 2005, 03:34 PM   #6
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Completely normal reaction for most people when they wake up from a sound sleep and have to go immediately to high alert. I've experienced it myself. Chest tight, heart pounding, your ears picking up your heart booming like a kettle drum and breathing that sounds like Darth Vader after taking a three hard laps around the death star.

First order of business - two or three deep breaths to oxygenate yourself and to help regain composure. The tunnel vision is typical too for a lot of people and comes from the adrenaline dump. Breathe. Be thankful you didn't try to yell a challenge (I've been there done that) and hear your voice crack like Don Knotts going through puberty. This kind of reaction happens especially when you're alone in the house the first time you react to a potential condition Orange.

What have you learned from your experience?
1. Don't keep your SD/HD gun in a holster. Unless you're worried about grabbing it in the middle of the night and doing stupid things with it in your sleep.
2. Flip-flops are not proper footgear. Slippers are only marginally better because they're more stealthy, but your feet come out of them too easily too. Have an old pair of loafers?
3. You did okay and especially good was checking on your roommate. What would you have done had he not been in the bedroom? Who left the TV on? Was your trigger finger off the trigger as you moved? What condition was the safety in? Think about your roomie coming around the corner from the living room while you were in that mode.

Use this an a learning experience. Use your roomie to bounce ideas around. How would you handle it if he wasn't there? Or if he'd dropped a glass outside on the front porch that woke you. Go through the possibilities and work out scenarios plus your response to each.
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
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Old July 5, 2005, 03:44 PM   #7
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No manual safety on the p99, gun was chambered with another 15 in the mag.

I for some reason had my finger behind the trigger, which is also something I never done, I dont know why I had my finger behind the trigger, i was also gripping the gun really tight.
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Old July 5, 2005, 03:49 PM   #8
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i was also gripping the gun really tight.
That might have partially contributed to the shaking.
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Old July 5, 2005, 03:55 PM   #9
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I got to experience this sensation in a training environment. As I went through the Police Academy, we did some simunition training (equate to high tech paintball for those who have never heard of it). The first time I got all geared up and put the paint-shooting Glock in my holster, I went through similar reactions. We also had to wear a helmet/faceguard that wrapped around my face and below my chin. First scenario, and I'm having trouble breathing, chest is tight, hands a little shaky. THEN, my instructor told me to go in to the scenario Open the door and BOOM, instant tunnel vision.

The good news is that we did several more scenarios throughout training and each time my response was less. I think they called it "stress innoculation" or some fancy term like that. Basically, I reacted more calmly and with less side effects each successive time.
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Old July 5, 2005, 04:28 PM   #10
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Tunnel vision, just like flinch, is something you constantly have to be aware of to avoid. A couple of years ago, I was flagged down by a person who said he heard gunshots coming from a house (was around 0200). I called for backup and we approached the house. There were two steps leading to a screen door, which led into a darkened kitchen. Just inside the door was a table with a chair in front of it facing the door. A guy was sitting there, slumped, legs spread, with both hands between his legs and obviously holding a pistol. I came to a point/aim, identified myself and ordered him to drop the weapon. He didn't. Instead he slowly looked up at me and began to raise the weapon towards me. From that instant, I can't remember what I yelled or what the other officers were doing. All I could see was that weapon, almost like my eyes were a zoom lens, and all I could feel was the trigger I was pulling (DA). They say God look after fools and little children. He was surely looking out for this guy. At the very last second, he dropped the gun. Mine was only a millimeter from going off, but I didn't fire. Later learned that he was high on LSD and trying for suicide by cop. I also learned that one of my guys stuck the muzzle of an 870 past my head and racked a round home. I never heard it or saw it. There were also two more of my people on the other side of the door frame at point/aim and yelling commands. I never heard them either. It was almost like I was operating on auto-pilot. That's tunnel vision, and that's why I harp on my often said earlier statement that, when it hits the fan, you'll do what you've trained to do. No training? Confusion and condition black. Over the last 23 years, I've been involved in somewhere between 20-30 armed encounters (none fatal), and each time I find myself in a situation, I have to work to focus on not going into tunnel vision or adrenalin overload. It's afterwords though, that my legs get all rubbery .
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Old July 5, 2005, 06:53 PM   #11
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i had a situation like that at home once. i had my gun drawn and was ready to fire. my hands werent shaking, but i thought my heart was about to explode it was pounding so hard.

it will be fine with me if i never go thru that again.
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Old July 6, 2005, 03:58 AM   #12
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Fighting fear; and in this particular circumstance, you may have been wiser to have made ready - and sat tight for just a few minutes.

A few minutes to settle down, while waiting for some other audible clues, and being ready to confront friend or foe. Always keep in mind that your first encounter might be family or friend instead of or in addition to a real bad guy or guys.

The breaking glass may have been a dream, or it may have been something outside your dwelling.
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Old July 6, 2005, 06:29 AM   #13
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I have been there as well. 2:00 am guy comes walking in the front door. (don't know why it wasn't locked). Turns on the front room light. I am awaken by this, grab the .357 and start out the hall to the living room. I find standing at the door a Air Force MP in uniform, drunk as hell. He saw the business end of the .357 at about the time I noticed the wet spot in his crotch getting bigger. He had met an old roomate of the wife at a bar, and she told him to just come over, and go in. I of course explained how he was to drunk, and stupid to be in that uniform right then. He left. I should have taken his clothes, and sent him back to base in his birthday suit. I decided early on that I wasn't going to lose it under these circumstances. You have to adopt the frame of mind that when the SHTF you are going to get just plain mad dog mean, and still be able to maintain your composure. Training, and scenario role playing in your mind can help you get there. I am mentally exhausted at the end of the night because I am constantly thinking 'what if?"
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Old July 6, 2005, 08:23 AM   #14
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Beretta Cougar;
Being not professional soldiers as we are your reaction was perfectly normal. After all its not common for civvies like us to encounter such on a day to day basis. 'BillCa' is right; deep breathly and try to regain your composure and relax. If your area was completely dark and or dim lighted i would say you had the upper hand. Ive experienced what you've experienced. My suggestion is stay put, scan the area around you, listen closely to your surroundings and try to assess the situation carefully, the sounds youve heard, the movement you may have sensed, etc. After you've assessed your immediate surrounding then you may survey beyond your space, down the hall, the living room, section by section. If in doubt you can always dial 911 if theres a phone near you.

Bottomline is if we are not able to control our fear everything is magnified. The slightest sound of a wristwatch can easily be heard. Fear sometimes cloud ones judgement. But fear do sometimes help us to think things over and over giving you the chance to evaluate things a lot better.

Stay safe.
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Old July 6, 2005, 05:17 PM   #15
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As was said earlier, the first time is the worst. Btw, pointing straight ahead, is not good form. Especially with your friend in the area.
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Old July 6, 2005, 05:27 PM   #16
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I'll get flamed for saying this, but I think what you might want to try is playing some paintball.

The very first time I played my reactions were exactly like what you experienced. I was shaking like a leaf, sweating...tunnel vision. After a while the feeling went away but the adrenalin still gets hopped up while playing.

The game really trains you to look ALL around, keep your cool and gives you a little idea what it's like to 'shoot' someone. Other than airsoft I can't think right offhand of any other game that lets you shoot guns/projectiles at other people.

I'm no kid either. Try and get in with some adults when you go and I bet it helps with the shakes.
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Old July 6, 2005, 05:34 PM   #17
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You know ... I've faced a few situations I've perceived as life threatening (though thankfully none turned out to be) and a few where I realistically thought I was about to suffer a major (hopefully non life threatening) assault.

In both cases, I found my reaction a little different.

My breath shortened and I did feel a little shaky (it wasn't unsettling, though -- more like my muscles were quivering and ready to respond) but my vision and hearing actually kind of seemed to expand. I was acutely aware of the threats around me and listening very closely.

What I did lose, though, was most of my ability to articulate clearly or think as clearly as normal --seemed like my brain wasn't really interested in forming words or thinking things out.

Not sure which reaction is worse. I've got to say that after the fact it was rather exhilirating as I was coming down off of adrenaline.
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Old July 6, 2005, 05:38 PM   #18
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Its common enough, yes. This a built in response to extreme threat. One of the reasons we practice, practice, practice, is to overcome this response.
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Old July 6, 2005, 05:55 PM   #19
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I had that happen to me once and I haven't been in a close call since so who knows if it will happern again.

Two guys followed me & my (then) pregnant wife off the bus in Columbus and kept trying to get us to play that 3 card monty or what ever you call it. I yelled at them and we took off walking up a side street only to be met by them 1/2 blk up. One came from through the houses and I turned around to see the other coming up the side walk. He kept inching up towards me talking his jive and I kept giving ground until I was on the edge of the curb and I swear I felt him about to suckerpunch me. I backstepped off the curb and got a grip on my weapon without drawing it out, and suddenly I was like in slow motion and could see everything. His buddy sitting down on the grass real fast, him bringing his hands up and backing off, my wife in my periphrial vision to my side and a couple other people up the sidewalk a bit, the other direction. I took my wifes arm and we ran a few blocks and made some corners and when we stopped, thats when I started shaking. It took me about 20 minutes to calm down.

From how I hear tunnel vision described by some on the board, I think I may have had the opposite of it. ?

I didn't start shaking until a few minutes later after the incident. I don't know if I had a delayed reaction to the adreniline or just didn't notice it at first or what. I think I wasn't shaking / reacting to the incident at the time of the incident, but rather to the realization that I almost had to shoot a man, afterward...?
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Old July 6, 2005, 09:58 PM   #20
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"i was looking around with the gun chamered and ready to rock, pointing straight ahead."

How did you know the height of the intruder?
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Old July 8, 2005, 01:05 PM   #21
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The book, "On Combat - The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace" by Dave Grossman is a good resource for those who care to look a little further.
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Old July 9, 2005, 06:14 PM   #22
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Train it or live it and the shakes will go away

If you were to relive this scenario everyday or train for it you would eventually lose the shakes.

My car has been tampered with 3 times in this year alone, so I go out armed to investigate night noises almost daily. My best recommendation to help with the shakes is to get a heavier weapon like a 12 gauge with an 18 inch barrel. It seems to make the BG's shake more than me.
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Old July 9, 2005, 09:30 PM   #23
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It seems to make the BG's shake more than me.
Talk about perfect timing for that quote! I just got back in the office from one of the worst possible scenario calls: Man in a hospital emergency room with a gun. His wife was a patient in the ER when he found out that she filed for divorce. He went there apparently saying he was going to kill her. I put SRT and negotiators on standby and I and two of my people arrived first. ER staff said that he didn't know we'd been called. We managed to sneak up on him around a corner and my two guys took him down while he stared down the muzzle of my .45. Hmm. Was that the distinct odor of poop? Anyhow, this FREAKIN' IDIOT almost got himself shot over a FREAKIN' CIGARETTE LIGHTER that was made to look like a derringer!! His legs seemed a bit rubbery too, but we gave 'em a little help walking out to a cage car (after he got cleaned up) . Dumb, stupid, idiotic *@#&$ people!!
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Old July 15, 2005, 01:05 PM   #24
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I've been involved in two situations where I have actually felt that I may have to fire on another human being.

The first time I was working armed security and was in a parking lot directing traffic. I had stopped the line of vehicles to allow a vehicle carrying a guy we had just trespassed from our property to pull out and leave. When the vehicle started to pull out, instead of pulling out and turning into the traffic lane, it kept coming toward me. I started backing up and drawing while yelling STOP! as loudly as I could. I had my sidearm at low ready and had already started to bring it up to gain a sight picture when they started turning away. I lowered my weapon and waited until the vehicle had exited the parking lot before reholstering. I still remember how many gold teeth I could see in the driver's mouth (3). Luckily, there were two local LEO's assisting and I looked around to see them reholstering about the same time I was so there was no need to call.

The second time, we were living in an OK neighborhood that was about 6 blocks from a not-so-OK neighborhood. I was staying up late in preparation for working 3rd shift the next night and had let our dogs out. I thought they had both come back in. I was sitting on the couch watching TV when I heard the front door start to open. I knew both dogs were inside and my wife was in bed, so whoever it was didn't belong. I grabbed my pistol from the top of the entertainment center, faced the door and started shouting at whoever was on the other side of the door (I was on the backside due to the arrangment of the LR) to " Get the F*^& out of my house" . I looked down just in time to see my dog peeking his head around the door looking scared to death. My wife woke up when I started shouting and I told her what was going on.

Both times, I could feel the effects of the adrenaline (pounding heart, sweating, shaking hands). Now, when I shoot IDPA I can still feel the same symptoms, just on a milder scale after each stage. when I haven't shot in a while, it is a little more noticeable.

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Old July 15, 2005, 09:50 PM   #25
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While I've been through three scary episodes, none have ended badly...thank goodness. All three times things were O.K. untill "all clear"...then the shakes set in. I think the false alarms have been good even though its been a good while since the last one. I'll probably experience the worst of it next re-training.
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