Awareness of what is going to happen to you physiologically in a gunfight may save your life by allowing you to make the necessary split second decisions. Everyone has heard of your fight or flight response, yet few people understand exactly what it is. The fight or flight response, also known as acute stress response is your body’s natural reaction to a perceived threat to your survival. Chances are, the image above elicits the beginnings of an involuntary response. In other words, you feel uneasy. At the moment you are confronted with an attacker, your body becomes a mess of stress response hormones. Norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, toss in estrogen or testosterone to determine how you are going to react to the first four and you have a veritable train wreck of sympathetic and autonomic nervous system response. What does all this mean? In the most layman terms possible, it means you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
Fine motor skill reduction – Fingers won’t work, shaking. Training gross motor skill reloads helps mitigate this, try using the whole hand instead of fingers to release the slide after a reload.
Auditory exclusion – Brain filters sound to what is important. Certain sounds you may not hear, the most common thing people say about a gunfight is they never heard the gun go off.
Tunnel vision/Visual exclusion – Eyes fail to function optimally. Many police officers have reported being completely oblivious to other people around them during an encounter.
All of these symptoms come from the brain priming your nervous system for an adrenaline charged stress response. Your body clinches down on blood vessels and keeps your blood in your torso to maintain optimal function of your vital organs. A couple of takeaway truths, police are given ample time to calm down before making a statement. Normally 24 hrs. Make sure you take this time as well. Training with realistic targets will result in desensitization to the nervous system effects. Quit firing at circles with your carry gun. For realistic training, get your heart rate up. Do jumping jacks and then practice dry firing, or if you have the range area to go to, live fire practice.
If we are honest with ourselves, we are all preparing for the gunfight we hope we never have.
Train often, Train real and take care.