The seminar last weekend started out light…dry work and then some slow partner work to acquaint the class with the defensive movements that would be required later in the day.

It seemed simple enough. However, when stress enters the equation, the entire dynamic shifts – in three words…stress changes everything. I had an avid shooter tell me in the aftermath that he “didn’t believe that I would not utilize his handgun sights” during the encounters the seminar would eventually offer him. Yet, in the end, when each trainee fired the Simuniton handgun at the aggressor, none of them reported even attempting to line up the sights (even though this is how all of them train to shoot their handguns at the local range).

In context, the seminar had a concealed carry flavor to it. And, each trainee was surprised (or semi-surprised) by an aggressor who would try to take his or her handgun. In these situations, where we must “fight to our handgun” – even for a few seconds – the rush of adrenaline (and stress in general) turns the trainees’ attention almost fully to the aggressor – not the sights of the handgun. In short, 99+ percent of all people will focus on and look at the aggressor under stress.

In this reality, several lessons from stressful repetitions emerge, and while the trainees now “own” these lessons (having lived them) – two powerful insights can be shared herein:

(1) Learning to properly grip and present the handgun to ensure the muzzle points accurately at your target in combat range is essential (see GZTac courses), and

(2) Gaining an understanding of how to make space to effectively utilize a handgun is critical (i.e. learning to hold ground and strike/push away to make space vs. retreating in an attempt to make space).

There were many lessons learned in the seminar. And, as a final word, I suggest you train and test your self-defense in stress induced environments to work your way along the stress inoculation curve. I believe you will find many lessons of your own along the way. Stay safe and stay strong…

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