My post just below on the necessity of knowing the law generated a thoughtful comment and question, the relevant excerpt here:
A few weeks ago one of us brought a scenario taken from a video of a convenience store robbery. In the video 3 men with guns entered the store. The clerk drew a handgun and fired at one of them. When he did so the other 2 turned and ran. In our scenario, the shooter was a customer standing in front of the register when 3 armed men came in, one of whom pointed his gun at the clerk. When the shooter engaged the other 2 dropped their weapons, turned and fled. Of the 7 of us who were subjected to this scenario 3 shot 1 of the fleeing subjects and 1 shot them both. All of us are aware of the legalities (3 of us are or will soon be lawyers). Reviewing the video of our runs we all recognized the problem, but had this been a real encounter 4 of us would likely face prosecution for homicide.
You often write about the importance of legal education. You also often write about the positives and negatives of competition and competition based training. I think these subjects are related. The guy that shot both unarmed fleeing gunmen is also the fastest of us and regularly wins IDPA and IPSC tournaments. I have spent a lot of time researching the law of self-defense in our state and I am currently a third year law student so I understand what I am researching, but I still shot one of them.
It seems clear to me that the shooters in this scenario inappropriately shot the fleeing BGs for one of two reasons:
- The BGs turned and started to flee after the shooter had made the decision to fire and before the shooter’s mental processing could register the change and stop themselves from shooting. This happens frequently to cops – it’s why BGs are sometimes “shot in the back” (in reality, any shot entering behind the seam of a shirt is “in the back” as far as the activists and press go). Not a lot you can do about this – if you appropriately decide to shoot because of imminent deadly danger, then whatever the BG does inside your reaction time is pretty much not under your control.
- The shooters were so hard-wired to “shoot” at the sign of danger that they shot every target in sight. This is a potential competition scar, and a non-trivial one at that!
If you’ve never trained on a Rogers Machine, you should at least once. These machines present computer-programmed reactive steel targets from behind cover for only a brief (operator programmed) amount of time. The shooter might have anywhere from several seconds to hit a small plate that appears to less than 1/4-second (1/4-second is most young healthy people’s reaction time). There are numerous plates that appear from even more numerous parts of the machine. These machines build reactive, fast, accurate shooting like nothing else. No matter how good you think you are, you will be severely humbled by shooting against one of them. They are expensive, so you’ll have to go to a school that has one.
Now the obvious problem, from a street perspective, is while these machines (and ones like them) build incredible shooting skill, they also program you to shoot as fast as you can when a “target” presents. An LE trainer I know once debriefed a cop who had been involved in a questionable shooting. At the time of the shooting the cop had just returned from a school where he spent considerable time on one of these “twitch shooting” machines (my term).
Lesson re: point 2: what makers us “better” shooters, particularly better competition shooters, can sometimes work against us. Like real bad.
So, how do we train to not shoot at everything that moves or pops into our field of vision? I have an idea (below) but I’ll defer to Marcus Wynne if he chooses to pull himself away from his diet of espresso and bevy of wholesome Midwestern ladies to respond, since this is pretty much his wheelhouse.
Before I give you my idea, some background. Back when I wrote for Combat Handguns‘ enigmatic editor Harry Kane, he, well aware that awareness was the most fundamental skill, used to ask every one of his authors, “How do we train awareness?” Frankly, it stumped us all…until one day I think I solved it. I believe that Harry was asking the wrong question; we don’t train awareness, we make it a habit. You develop habits (usually based on the positive way they make you feel), you don’t consciously train them. The article I wrote for Harry on that subject is no longer available on the CH website nor on the Officer.com website where it was republished. But it was reproduced in its entirety on two forums that I found here and here.
So my idea: I think we need to make seeing what’s going on and making a conscious decision habitual in our scenario training. We start by deliberately moving and shooting slower than we can, slow enough so that we always make good decisions (even if we make them too slowly by real-world standards). We let our brains form the habit of looking/evaluating/decision-making based on the pleasure of the results we get from making good decisions, and by the looking/evaluating/decision-making triggers that sensing danger initiates. (This approach is based somewhat on the chemistry of addictive substances that I just finished watching a 5-hour series on, only here we’re trying to make a habit, not break one.) Then we move through the scenarios faster and faster, letting the habit develop as we move towards real-time speed.
This is much like developing a shooting technique that we currently can’t perform: slow down, do it perfectly, and gradually ramp up the speed.