Competition, Cognition, and Deadly Force

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Interesting discussion of cognitive differences between competition and actual application of deadly force from Presscheck Consulting:


Thanks to my friend and fellow tactician J for pointing this one out.

The variables that must be attended to and accounted for, the mental mapping and potential circuitry conflicts – including with our own training –  the wide-ranging contextual differences, and trauma, however navigated, make a defensive shooting or other violent engagement a different animal altogether than competition, despite technical similarities.

The idea that we can “just dump a mag at the guy” if we have the legal justification to shoot, or that the stress of competition is anything like that of a life or death encounter ignores even a little comprehension of available research in force science, reaction and decision times, and trauma studies; it’s why competitors don’t get PTSD from competition, and why some highly effective competitors aren’t very effective when its real, or why others can’t seem to make decisions, or make less desirable decisions, under duress.

It’s why rounds may continue to be fired after a subject goes down – rounds which have to go somewhere – hopefully not into one of your loved ones two blocks away.

Its all well and good when your mind doesn’t have to attend to any of these ‘extraneous’ things – when you can shoot as fast as you want, dump as many rounds as you want into your unmoving, non-responsive target, when you can transition targets after the required round count because you know the target is no longer “in play,” your target will never shoot back, and there will never be any legal repercussions to your actions, because all the outside variables are controlled.

Instructors who demonstrate simplistic understanding of these variables should be taken with a shaker of salt. Accept what they have that is of value: to improve your shooting skills, or your knife or empty hand skills; but expect more from someone claiming to teach self defense or personal protection readiness rather than simply “shooting” or “grappling” in competitive terms.

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