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Hello,

Some will say this is a "look at me" thread, but it's not. I'm concerned however about something that has happened a few times and I'd like input.

I once had to pull a gun on a person - I was maybe 16 and the gun was a Ruger Super Single Six. The guy tried to enter the house and after my dog chased him out I opened the door and shot one over his head, then levelled it at his chest when he didn't run. Luckily, he took off. Stupid, I know. I didn't even call the police. I screwed everything up - I was hesitating on the trigger as well.

After that I sought out all the knowledge and training I could get my hands on, and afford. I've not been to Thunder Ranch or anyplace like that, but the Sheriff's Dept did some good things with me, as did law enforcement schooling.

Since then there have been a couple times I thought I'd have to draw on humans - I ended up not having to, but they were tense moments. (One was due to a relationship I was in; I got out of that after finding out what her family was like. The other was when my dad, weak from cancer surgery, encountered a beligerant worker felling trees on the family land at the behest of a neighbor who wanted his land cleared and didn't bother to hire a surveyer first. The b.w. had a length of logging chain in his hand).

These two times, the people became targets. I'm not talking figuratively, but I actually saw cardboard IDPA/IPSC targets I use to practice with, often covered with old shirts. While I don't know whether I could shoot a human, I have no trouble drilling cardboard, and that's what these PEOPLE became!

What was this? Stress reaction? Should I see a shrink? Frankly, I'm a bit concerned about it every time I think about those incidents. They say you fight as you train, and I've sent literally hundreds of thousands of rounds downrange onto these types of targets. Could it just be my mind expecting to see something and seeing it for me?

In other words, is this a normal reaction, or at least, is it not unheard of?

I've never in my life experienced anything like this otherwise. Scratch that - CPR. I treated a person I had to give CPR to as the training dummy, and another time, a seizure victim as a classroom model. I kinda' just left myself and watched my body work.

Am I doing something wrong?

Thanks for any answers,

Josh <><
 

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I have thought this over too... but if you get in a tense situation.... and then it is like you hear the timer in an IPSC match go off... maybe that might be a prob. Though most handgun trainers try to tell you that if a situation jumps at you, to use the flinch most of us will have to draw your gun.
 

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Sounds to me like you're letting your training take over because you're in a stressful situation that you don't want to be in. Thats very amateur psychology. I've been in lots of bad situations where I should have been scared to death, but I just kind of went numb and did what had to be done. Got the shakes bad after. I've also had the shakes when I had way too much time to think about what COULD happen, like on a stake out when the guys with me were as young as me and twice as nervous to start with. We fed on each others fear of failure. As I got older and more time on the job it calmed down quite a bit. After 20 years, 9/11, the last 2 Woodstocks, riots, etc it pretty much handles itself.

I wouldn't worry to much unless you find yourself not caring about having to take a life. Or worse, wanting to. Then it's really time for professional help. Been there too and got the tee shirt.
 

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You may need to rethink your training and reevaluate your values. What you are experiencing is called suppression and displacement. You value human life and are utterly disturbed by the thought of having to take one. In order to defend yourself, you temporarily suppress your thoughts on the sanctity of life, and mentally displace your focus onto a less intimidating and more morally acceptable target; allowing you to temporarily isolate your emotions from your actions.

You are subconsciously doing this mental "bait and switch" to help you deal with the stress you are experiencing due to potentially having to take a life. If you had no respect for human life, the idea of potentially having to take a human life would not be stressful to you and your mind wouldnt need to come up with a coping mechanism. That is perfectly normal. Unfortunately, by mentally switching to a less stressful target, witnesses may claim that you calmly and coolly killed the perp in cold blood. I liken this to when I play basketball; I tune everything out and revert back to the motions that I learned during practice, I am "in the zone."

Being "in the zone" may help you perform in a time of stress, but don't ever let yourself make too hasty of a decision because you cannot recall a bullet. Don't ever allow yourself to have tunnel vision. My concern is that you may prematurely change the person into a cardboard target in your mind before you have correctly analyzed all the facts.

Obviously to you, the encounters you mentioned were perceived as an appropriate time to use the skills you acquired in training, but the fact that nothing negative resulted from your not shooting, means that you may need to reevaluate when you would draw your firearm in self defense and work more on your talking skills. I went to high school with lots of gangsters and drug dealers, and I always managed to avoid the use of lethal force.

Carry often, shoot little (offrange). Speak faster than you can shoot. It is easier to talk someone out of doing the wrong thing than it is to recall a bullet that may have been unecessarily or hastily fired.

I always pray that I never have to shoot anyone in self defense, but I also pray that I be level headed enough to make the right decision if that time does come.
 
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