As your stress level increases so does your heart rate. As your heart rate increases your ability to process information decreases. You quickly become an animal.
In the following discussion the heart rate increases are NOT due to physical exertion but only due to stress. The best way to understand this is to imagine that you have been sitting quietly at your desk in deep thought for 20 minutes and someone sneaks behind you and blasts a football game air horn right behind your head. NOW take your pulse …
60 to 80 beats per minute
You can consciously remember what to do. The forebrain is for reason and abstraction: “If this happens then I'll do this.” At this nominal stress level you function normally.
115 beats per minute
Vasoconstriction starts. Your body starts to close down in a way similar to being in a cold environment. The body core temperature is maintained but you lose motor skills. This can make the removal of your pistol from the holster more difficult. You might drop the pistol. By now most prudent people would have removed their pistol from the holster and directed its open end toward the stimulus in question.
115-150 beats per minute
Fight or flight. All fine motor skills are now gone. Your forebrain is still working. You can aim the pistol in a gross way but have lessened control over the trigger. You might not know that you have even pulled the trigger or you might think that you have pulled the trigger but actually have not.
175 beats per minute
Your forebrain is hijacked by midbrain — the primitive part. You don’t bleed much if you are bitten. Blood is now being directed to your large muscle groups so that you can fight to the death. The midbrain is for fight, flight, feeding, fury. You will physically be unable to think or even remember. You will do only what you have been well conditioned to do.
By now you should have taken whatever steps needed to stop the threat.
Practice To Stay Alive
In a real encounter, about 80% of all shots fired … miss the target. This often is due to insufficient training. There are several types of weapons training systems available today and some of those systems can be thought of as little more than glorified 180 degree “arcade games.” The agents can be presented with several canned scenarios and they must respond to those canned scenarios appropriately.
Here’s the good news.
There are some “breakthrough” training systems out there today and one of them allows the user to actually train in the field under real conditions and against other very real people. These new systems use air powered “non-weapons” and those very realistic but fake devices shoot sub-caliber paint balls or hard rubber balls (ouch!).
As real ammunition continues to increase in price it may be nearly impossible to afford to practice enough today to overcome the innate terror of a real encounter.
These new “non-weapon” training systems offer sufficient recoil and real action of the slide and require real magazine changes, and more. The cost of one of these training devices is probably equivalent to five or six trips to a commercial range.
Here’s a video overview on one of these training devices:
Be warned. Anyone thinking of using such devices for practice should also invest in the training courses that are available.
This site is maintained by supporters of the United States Border Patrol and is not an official government site. The contents of this site are privately managed and not subject to the direction of the United States Border Patrol.