I’ll Come To Your Emotional Rescue.

Ron Avery has some interesting thoughts on bringing the reality of the gunfight into our training and practice.

Practice with the emotional intensity of a real encounter. You are FIGHTING, not just shooting. Psychological toughness/dominance is a mindset that must be exercised in order to develop it. As part of your training, visualize what you are doing as an actual encounter. Mindset is everything and it starts before you get to the range. Paul Carlson also expressed similar thoughts on a recent episode of The Gunfighter podcast, and that got me thinking about the dog that is not barking inside the training community, namely, creating the emotions we’ll need to win a deadly force encounter.

To be honest, prepping for the emotional portion of a deadly force encounter has not entered my mind in the least. Maybe it’s because there is a fine, fine line between the sense of urgency brought on by an emotional response and the physical and mental shutdown brought on by panic and fear.

The thing is, thought, that my reasons for pursing armed self-defense are pretty much 100% emotional: I don’t want to die, and I don’t want my loved ones to die either.

Emotions, when used properly, can he a powerful, powerful tool. This was brought home to me a few years ago when I trained with Gabe Suarez. He was trying to show us his techniques for shooting and moving, and I, like the good gamer I was, preferred to shoot it in an IDPA duck-walk rather than the flat-out run he wanted. I wasn’t able to muster the speed needed because I didn’t understand the need for speed in that situation.

Then Gabe pointed the frame of his Glock (not the gun, just the frame) at my face, and the reason for speeding up became much, much clearer.

Training with Gabe Suarez

As I said on-camera, having that inert hunk of plastic pointed at me put things in a whole new light. All of a sudden, I went from trying to solve the intellectual problem of absorbing what I was being taught and the physical challenge of doing the required tasks to dealing with the emotions associated with having someone trying to kill me and using thouse emotions to enhance my abliities, rather than detract from my performance.

It’s interesting that with just over 300 hours of formal training under my belt, that has been the one and only time (so far) that an instructor has brought in an element of preparing for the emotional stress of a gunfight, and I think the training community as a whole is missing out on something here. Yes, learning the physical skills needed to survive is important, as is having the intellectual firepower needed to solve problems quickly under stress, but let’s not forget that all of that starts with the will to win, thrive and survive all that might be thrown at us, and that starts with having the emotional fortitude to carry us through to victory.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. IIRC from several classes when he was part of the training cadre at the start of FrontSight, Gabe prevailed in several gunfights as a police officer, so he would have some personal experience driving his perspective on the dynamics of the situation. I think most of that first crew had such experience.

    Unfortunately, due to the extensive influence of Gunsite at that time, plus the inherent restrictions of groups on a square range, movement was not much of a consideration in most schools. Cooper’s “stand and deliver” became the default status quo for most training in the industry. The problem turned out to be that by association, the BG was also expected to do the same. Videos have since proven that that is not the case in real life. This remains the biggest problem in training at gun schools, I think.

    1. I wonder how much competition and square-range training has gotten in the way of us doing things like pre-visualization of what a bad guy REALLY will look like, or doing things like shouting out “HE’S GOT A GUN!” at a potential deadly threat.

      Cops yell that out so they can throw down a marker and say “There, that’s why I shot” and help those around them identify a threat.

      We don’t. And maybe that should change…


      1. I think that there are problems with yelling at the BG during a deadly force encounter. While they are in the interview phase, no problem. However, once they move to action, no yelling of any sort is going to change the dynamics. No passersby are going to understand it, for the most part, as they are generally not paying attention to anything real. The BG may be experiencing auditory exclusion right from the get-go, anyway.
        The bad thing, though, is that it requires multi-tasking on your part, in a critical time in a life changing episode. If you happen to be one of those rare individuals who has many thousands of practice draws of the same weapon while wearing identical clothing/gear, it might not cause a problem. However, we are speaking of a situation where if Murphy rears his head, you may end up as a Second Place Winner, at best. Multi-tasking is a misnomer. You actually switch back and forth mentally. Most people are very bad at this, when actually measured in performance. You are deliberately handicapping yourself, trying to be social in the most anti-social situation you could ever be involved in. It will slow you down. You need to focus on the important things. Lack of focus gets people killed.

  2. In addition, cops generally have different dynamics in their encounters. Plus, they get shot a lot of times while flapping their lips at the BG, instead of pulling trigger when they damn well should be. I suspect part of the problem they have is trying not to look bad to the dept investigators and the public. Don’t handicap yourself like they tend to do.
    If you don’t already have articulated in your mind the situations that are triggers for shooting a BG, then flapping your lips may feel like a valid option. This is a lack of critical thinking, and includes bad training. Bad training can fool someone into thinking they are prepared for deadly force.
    If you aren’t doing mental visualizations of deadly force encounters, on your own time, you are unprepared. If you aren’t told this during training, then it is deficient.

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