Stress Inoculation and Mitigation

Many new or untrained shooters add too much stress into their practice before they have mastered the fundamental skills. This added stress actually slows their progress in learning those fundamental skills.

There is no need to add force on force, competition or advanced training classes before one can shoot and manipulate the pistol quickly and efficiently while moving. When does a person know when they have mastered the fundamentals enough to add stress? The answer depends on who you ask and what your goals are.

For self-defense I believe drawing from concealment to the first shot at five yards in 1.5 seconds or under is a good goal. I like to see three shots from concealment at five yards in under 2.5 seconds without your grip falling apart. By keeping 90% of your rounds in the six/eight inch circle and then doing this while moving at a moderate speed will set you up for a basic gunfight.

I think you should continue to practice for accuracy and speed out to at least 25 yards. But you can add in some stress while learning to shoot from greater distances.

How you carry out stress inoculation matters a great deal. I often hear people going from the fundamentals straight to dynamic force on force type classes without understanding that there might be more to it than that.

The Rand Corp did a study of stress inoculation for the military that is a good overview of what many experts believe about performance under stress. I suggest that you read the study and think about how you might want to add stress inoculation into your practice/training.

This field of science is important to us. Most training systems use this science as its base. Knowing what you believe and why will help you decide on your training plan.

One principle of inoculation is the gradual introduction of stress. Too much stress up front limits what you get out of it. After you learn the fundamentals competition is a great next step. Learning to control your shooting to get accurate hits while trying to win is stressful. Multiple targets with shoot/no shoots also develop your skill while under stress. I humbly suggest that you shoot competition until you start to max out your speed and accuracy.

I don’t think any civilian should search a building but taking a building search class with moving/popping shoot/no shoot targets is a good next step. These classes also teach basic concepts that apply outside of building searches. A gunfight inside is not much different from a gunfight in a parking lot.

Force on force classes that use drills and scenarios for learning particular tactical lessons are worth the money. The scenarios are often short and to the point. I believe that full-out dynamic over the top force on force is a great test on how you are doing and what you might want to change or concentrate on to improve. I like to save that for last.

If done properly the gradual increase in stress will allow for greater learning and will allow you to end up with a full on dynamic over the top force on force class where you are not that stressed. If done correctly your stress stays about the same while the dynamic nature of the training is increasing over time.

When you can get to that level you can feel confident in what you have learned and need to learn. Feel confident in what you can do and can’t do. Have the best chance of understanding and mitigating the common effects of a gunfight and confrontations that need less than lethal force.

That’s a hint. Most of your paid training classes should have a full choice of force options. Learning to decide what to do in those gray zones of the law will keep you alive and out of jail.


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