Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Here's something I don't get...

Elsewhere on the internets, a discussion was ongoing regarding the proper time to disengage the thumb safety of a weapon.

This, of course, causes a lamp to illuminate somewhere at Warrior HQ on the internets and, constant as the northern star, a Suarez nuthugger shows up to rant and rave about "the dance of the range queen" and how "fine motor control" goes away in a gunfight and yadda-yadda, yackety-schmackety...

The next time one of these zombies gets its string pulled when you're in the room, point out to it that "Fine Motor Control" is anything that happens within one limb. If they really lost fine motor control, they wouldn't be able to hold the gun. Also, if safeties and slide releases use such fine motor control that you can't possibly operate them under stress, then how do they propose you work the trigger and magazine release? Head-butting?

Do these people think before they type, or do they just mindlessly repeat what they've been told?

47 comments:

Farm.Dad said...

Well they do believe in the power of the gabe .....

Netpackrat said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I've been a member of the Suarez forum for a few months now. I wouldn't say that I'm really "one of them"; I'm just interested in some of the same things.

It's been my observation that any sufficiently successful trainer will reach "guru" status among the more rabid of his followers. And without having been party to the discussion that led to your blog post, that things which are taught can get stretched way beyond the context that the trainer originally intended. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be too difficult to find examples of Cooper's or Ayoob's more "enthusiastic" adherents behaving badly on some forum, as well.

I'm not saying that there are not legitimate criticisms that can be leveled at Suarez; I'm just don't think that the excesses of his fanboys should be included among them.

Tango Juliet said...

They have to justify the super mega Glock somehow.

pdb said...

Rule 3 is also jettisoned by the Gabeoids in "street" situations. I've seen more than a few pictures of SI students doing clearing exercises with fingers hovering on their triggers.

Because there's nothing that could possibly go wrong with that.

Tam said...

Netpackrat,

"I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be too difficult to find examples of Cooper's or Ayoob's more "enthusiastic" adherents behaving badly on some forum, as well."

Anybody who is an enthusiastic groupie of just one particular trainer is suspect.

Similarly, any trainer who discourages pupils from studying with other trainers isn't trying to teach something, they're trying to sell something.

Stuart the Viking said...

It's an excuse. "Fine motor control" doesn't go away under stress. What goes away is THINKING about what they are doing and DOING it. Basicly (some) people lose their damn minds and spaz out under stress. It's the same phenomenon as when an idiot's car starts to spin and instead of calmly turning into the spin they let go of the wheel and cover their face with their hands. The guys who repeat that "fine motor control" crap are either setting up an excuse for themselves, or are repeating someone else's stupid excuse.

The people who I have known in my lifetime who have experience with being shot at (mostly one particular uncle of mine, but a few others as well), have all said "The guy who stays calm and gets the job done is the guy who gets to go home and see his family".

Me, I've only been shot at a couple of times. Each time I ran away. Not manly I guess, but in those particular cases it was the smart thing to do.

s

Netpackrat said...

The constant badmouthing of competitors wears thin, and is a legitimate criticism, IMO, and sometimes I think he'd sell his own mother to make a buck.

Anonymous said...

Actually, i happen to know the answer to whether or not you'll be able to operate the safety.
You will perform like you train.
Jeff Cooper in "No Second Place Winner" relates the story of an evening shootout across the Rio Grand. The other side had an hombre with a 30-30. The Border Patrol's best handgun shooter was tasked with driving away the rifleman. After some time, he succeeded. When the fight was over, said shooter was noticed to have bulging pockets. They were full of empty .357 Magnum cases.
He was reloader. When he shot at the range, he always saved his brass. In the heat of battle, with bullets whizzing by the rock he was hiding behind, he stuffed his pockets as he dumped the fired rounds.
A bit extreme, I admit, but, if you always do it the same way, when the chips are down, you'll do it that way. If you always manipulate the safety the same way, you'll manipulate the safety that way.

Student of most,Groupie of none.

Tango Juliet said...

It's funny. The more training I get from different sources, the more I want to get training from different sources.

Much of it is familiar. Some of it conflicts. It forces me to compare and analyze the info. After awhile, certain trends, such as moving while shooting, become apparent. It's almost as if these things were important skills to possess, in anyone's universe.

Jim said...

Anon 837: I know you meant to credit Bill Jordan for "No Second Place Winner."

w/v "pectone" as, "I pect one off and Bill shot the other one."

Jay G said...

It's like when you say something bad about Ron Paul...

Anonymous said...

As far as the pockets full of cases go, Google 'Newhall CHP shooting' and see why that sort of thing in training is a bad idea...

Matt
St Paul

docjim505 said...

Stuart the Viking - The people who I have known in my lifetime who have experience with being shot at (mostly one particular uncle of mine, but a few others as well), have all said "The guy who stays calm and gets the job done is the guy who gets to go home and see his family".

It seems to me that this is the real advantage of training: it provides quite a lot of mental rehearsal so that when the fit hits the shan, the person is mentally prepared to take immediate and proper action rather than scream, cower, and try desperately to think, "What do I do now???"

Boat Guy said...

As to your last question, Tam, I'll figure the second option is the more prevalent...
I've had the benefit of studying under a number of folks, concur with your assessment of who is "teaching" vice who is "selling", and have found that the fundamentals the same. I have concluded that the fundamentals are what one should seek to master.

TomcatTCH said...

I had to google "Suarez" to get an idea of who/what group you where talking about.

WOW.

I used to buy into the "fine motor skills evaporating under stress", but you hit the nail on the head. How is one supposed to run a trigger, change a magazine, or even get the damn gun out of the holster if fine motor skills go away?

JimB said...

"Do these people think before they type, or do they just mindlessly repeat what they've been told? "

I think you hit it on the head...

Firehand said...

Anony, in the case of Jordan I doubt it was training; he was probably just not feeling rushed, so...

After some of what he did in WWII, I doubt being potted at by a smuggler raised his blood pressure much

Anonymous said...

Jim,
Yes, Bill Jordan! Mea Culpa! (They say your memory is the second thing to go. I don't remember what the first is.)

Firehand,
As I recall the story, it wasn't Bill who was doing the shooting at the rifleman, but see the above parenthetical.

Word Verification:porer-"Since Obama got in I'm so much porer that I can't aford double leters."

Terry said...

Everytime Ihear the "fine motor skills will disapear under stress" talk, I can't help but think of all those navy pilots landing on a carrier at night; there's obviously no stress there.

Tam said...

Terry,

I have been crossed up on a sportbike more times than I can count, and managed to operate controls with my fingers and my toes, at a high rate of speed, no less.

That's the whole point of training and practice and repetition: So when things go pear-shaped, you don't have to waste processing cycles giving your hands detailed instructions as to what to do.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Well, we can end this discussion once and for all time. We'll just climb into our Wayback Machine, find John Moses Browning circa 1910, and tell him he MUST remove those Damn Thumb Safeties from his Pistol Designs or everyone who tries to shoot a 1911 for the next hundred years will DIE!

After all, what does Decades of Combat Experience across the Globe matter when the Guru says "Thou Shall Not!"?

Anonymous said...

There's evidence that your "fine motor skills evaporating under stress" can be overcome with training from outside shooting, you know.

Ever watch a really good card magician? People don't think they have stage fright or performance anxiety for some reason. It's because they practice. A lot.

There's a saying among magicians that applies equally well to shooting: "An amateur practices until he gets it right. A professional practices until it can't go wrong."
Meaning that a pro always knows what he or she will do WHEN it goes wrong. Because it will!

Anonymous said...

I watched Ken Hackathorne and Larry Vickers last night on Tac TV.

Ken made the statement that what you can do under stress is the only thing that counts. What good is it if you can do half second reloads and a 7 second El Prez in practice but drop magazines and fling shots in to the woods under stress

Wise men those two.

Gerry

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Were you about to say something about Dr. Paul, JayG? Because I am READY to respond.

An Ordinary American said...

The biggest experts on gunfights are those who've never been in one.

--AOA

Terry said...

"That's the whole point of training and practice and repetition"

That's it.

Ian Mc Murtrie said...

I am always suspicious of someone who has absolutely no experience in something telling me how I'll react when that something happens to me.

If I want to know what's liable to happen to me during a gunfight, I'll ask Kyle Lamb, Paul Howe, Johnny Guest, Peter Grant or any other verifiable survivors of gunfights.

If I want to know what's liable to happen to me during the shooting of a family dog behind a chain-link fence, or the defrauding of Workers Compensation, I'll ask Gabe Suarez.

Sport Pilot said...

You are my new hero Tam! The "nuthugger" crack made my day.

elmo iscariot said...

We'll just climb into our Wayback Machine, find John Moses Browning circa 1910, and tell him he MUST remove those Damn Thumb Safeties from his Pistol Designs...

Do I remember correctly that many of Browning's holster pistol designs didn't have a thumb safety, relying only on the grip safety for boom-interdiction?

My understanding was that the original pistol submitted for testing was one of these semiglocky point-and-shoot types, and that the addition of a manual safety was one of the changes the Army ordered before adopting it as the M1911.

staghounds said...

1. The original holster Browning had only a sight safety.

2. Yeah, Jeff Cooper wrote "Hell I Was In The Gravest Extreme"

Tam said...

elmo iscariot,

"Do I remember correctly that many of Browning's holster pistol designs didn't have a thumb safety, relying only on the grip safety for boom-interdiction?"

The original M1900 Colt had a firing-pin-blocking safety that doubled as the rear sight.

The M1902 Military, M1902 Sporting, and M1903 Pocket Hammer had no manual safety at all, being intended to be carried either with an empty chamber or the hammer down on a live round.

(Not that this means anything: The M1903 Wright Flyer had a carburettor made from an applesauce can and a 1903 Model A Ford had headlights as an extra-cost option and a top speed of 35mph.)

elmo iscariot said...

The M1902 Military, M1902 Sporting, and M1903 Pocket Hammer had no manual safety at all, being intended to be carried either with an empty chamber or the hammer down on a live round.

Ah, I believe those were the jobbies I was thinking of. My mistake.

Whoever was responsible, I'm glad the 1911 ended up having a thumb safety. Carrying a loaded and cocked SA pistol without one isn't something I'd be comfortable with.

Ancient Woodsman said...

One guy who knows a lot about what a person can or cannot do under stress is Dr. Karl Weick. He's not a gun guy.

His ideas include that all people will eventually fail under stress; the threshhold is different for all as well. 'Recognition-primed decision making' is enhanced through experience and realistic, stressful training. His studies have influenced leadership organizations for years, including FDNY and the USMC.

His article on the South Canyon ("Storm King Mountain") fire should put to rest the idea that we lose fine motor skills under stress. Surrounded by death and about to die himself, a firefighter mentally regressed to a point of comfort for him - detailed maintenance on a chainsaw. Sure, his brain wasn't effectively processing what was going on around him, but his fine motor skills were quite intact. Dr. Weick wrote an earlier, similar, and groundbreaking study of the Mann Gulch fire in regards to the phenomenon he termed a "collapse of sensemaking".

The idea is that everyone will fail under the right amount of stress. How much stress it takes before we fail will depend upon that person's experience & training. And there are too many real-world examples of folks perfectly retaining their fine motor skilss under all kinds of deadly stress for salemen to keep pitching that tired old saw today.

Anonymous said...

Rule of 10,000: If you do something 10,000 times, it becomes hard wired, and you don't have to conciously think about it. You just react, like a lizard.

Under stress the lizard parts still work.

Murphy's Law said...

LOL @ Suarez nuthugger bit...I'm STILL snickering.

But having been in a couple of real shootings, I can relate that you will do exactly as you have trained without thinking about it if you've drilled until you've got the muscle memory. It's the wanna-be "warrior" with nothing but a 3-hr CCW class under his belt who will fold up like a wet paper towel when the adrenaline dump hits and his sweaty, fumbling hands can't even find that Glock that he casually stuck in his inside jacket pocket much less draw it and present it.

You will not "rise to the occasion" when the SHTF, you will instead default to the level of your training. If your training is good, that won't be a problem.

Netpackrat said...

"If I want to know what's liable to happen to me during the shooting of a family dog behind a chain-link fence, or the defrauding of Workers Compensation, I'll ask Gabe Suarez."

You know, before I signed up for his forum, I spent some time googling about the workers' comp thing, and the worst I could find about it was he appears to have made the mistake of taking legal advice from his doctor, rather than a lawyer.

"You will not "rise to the occasion" when the SHTF, you will instead default to the level of your training. If your training is good, that won't be a problem."

I read almost that exact quote on his forum the other day.

ravenshrike said...

In a small group of people, I don't know percentages but probably somewhere well under 10, when a stressful enough event hits they freeze or freak out. They don't lose fine motor control, they no longer have any control. For a pretty large majority of the population during a stressful event, fine motor control becomes severely degraded but doesn't go away. For most of the people in that group, training in response patterns for similar events can mostly or completely erase the degradation. In another small percentage of people, either their fine motor skills stay the same or can increase by a significant amount.

Pignock said...

This is from distant memory, so it's probably wrong, but hasn't Massad Ayoob been a vocal proponent of the "loss of fine motor control" meme. I seem to recall reading in many of his recounts of shootings in whichever gun rag he wrote for that recurring theme as well as PTSD and severe legal headaches. His LFI courses were geared around dealing with all three.

Tam said...

Okay? So he's wrong, too?

Pignock said...

Seems like a lot of well respected trainers have been developing the "art" for a long time and there are bound to be themes that develop amongst the various schools of thought regarding self defense and responses under stress. Even wrong themes might take a while to be proven so and even longer to dissipate.

There are undoubtedly other things being taught by various trainers that will be superceded by more refined techniques or a larger data set.

I'm keeping an open mind with regard to what is definitely true and what is not in regards to defensive firearm use and am willing to pay trainers to teach me what I don't know (which is a metric crap ton)

pax said...

Book recommendation for the folks who believe in learning from people who've been there, done that: Into the Kill Zone: A Cop's Eye View of Deadly Force by David Klinger. The book is based on detailed interviews with officers involved in 113 well-documented incidents where deadly force was used, and provides an invaluable resource for people wondering about the physical aspects of stress surrounding criminal violence. It's a good read, too: almost entirely first-hand narrative accounts, with just enough commentary to hold the thing together.

Another excellent resource is Deadly Force Encounters by Dr. Alexis Artwohl and Loren W Christensen. This one is more clinical, with less narrative and more summary, but still very compelling.

Both of these books are based on criminal encounters with law enforcement. While LEO experiences don't always closely parallel ordinary citizen encounters with criminals, sometimes they do. And the physical and emotional reactions to extreme stress during a life threatening event won't diverge so far as to be non-useful. We are, after all, the same species. ;)

The key difference (and this is major) is that citizen encounters tend to be much shorter and with much less warning, which means that oftentimes the entire encounter is over before the victim/survivor has had time to experience any adrenal reactions, let alone the more exciting ones. But on the flip side, many ordinary citizen encounters do take awhile to build up to criminal violence, and these are the ones where the ordinary person's physical reactions will most closely parallel the bulk of LEO experiences.

One more resource: Tom Givens' lecture titled "Lessons from the Street," available as a DVD through Personal Defense Network. Collectively, over 50 of Givens' students have used firearms in self defense. On the DVD, Givens presents 10 of those incidents and discussses some trends he has seen in these types of encounters. He does not (specifically) address adrenal reactions to stress in these cases, but includes it where it comes into play.

Tam, please forgive me for hitting lecture mode. Didn't mean to do it -- just reading your commenters, and thought some might enjoy a closer look at some good stuff.

Thomas said...

I don't think the 'loss of fine motor skills' meme is all or nothing. (The NRA teaches that in their Personal Protection classes, too, by the way, not just some trainers).

You can experience some of this by being under stress. Competition shooting will introduce a person to this, people are watching, you don't have the muscle memory or habits built up, you're nowhere nearly as good at it as most of the people you're watching... that's some stress, enough to get titchy fingers and hands, and enough to get a little bit of an adrenaline dump going. Getting used to that and knowing what it feels like is part of the value of shooting competitions. That's not saying you'll experience those things to the same degree as you would during a defensive encounter, but it's still somewhat true that you'll experience it.

I don't think you have to totally rely on maneuvers whose smallest-used muscle is your hands as opposed to your fingers. If your fingers will work under stress, then great let them work the slide release or whatever else. If the fingers are too wiggly under stress, then fall back to some other plan like using the whole off-hand to work the slide instead of just the thumb on the slide release.

It's not all-or-nothing on loss of fine motor skills. Haven't all of us been late to a chemistry test or something and fumbled the locker lock combo or the car keys or something? Everyone's experienced at least some loss of fine motor skills, that effect does exist.

Tam said...

Thomas,

"I don't think the 'loss of fine motor skills' meme is all or nothing. (The NRA teaches that in their Personal Protection classes, too, by the way, not just some trainers)."

The NRA thinks that two of the three gun safety rules are "Never climb over a fence with a loaded fowling piece" and "Don't spill your vodka Collins on your Perrazzi."

"Fine Motor Skills" has a specific meaning. It can't be defined by Joe Instructor. It means any set of musculo-skeletal responses confined to a single limb. If you lose "fine motor skills", you can't point the gun at the target. Period. Words have meanings.

Pignock said...

Would you be less offended by the term - degraded fine motor skills?

John in Nashville said...

<~snark~>yet these "Suarez nuthuggers" will tout the "reload with retention" as the only proper way to reload....an easy accomplishment when your "motor control subroutine" is being stressed.

BTW during my practice and range time draws when the muzzle reaches a precise angle of 41.753 Degrees the thumb safety is disengaged..the finger hovers the guard at 86.739 Degrees <~snark~>

Some folks just have to over think and argue minor details don't they

not even going into the slingshot the slide after a mag seat motion...

I prefer to keep it simple, shoot and if reload is needed dump the mag and have the fresh one on its way in before the empty hits the deck (minimize the M-1 ping theory of hearing an empty mag so he must be out syndrome) and back up before the empty mag stops bouncing around by your feet.. <~snark~>

Cond0010 said...

"...how "fine motor control" goes away in a gunfight ..."

Huh. I thought 'Fine Motor Control' is innate to the body (varying from person to person) and only degrades due to fatigue, intoxication, damage to nerves and/or muscle, etc... (ie hardware issues).

Being that adrenaline is the body's own 'natural caffeine' and been used with the original chassis & software for millions of years, I really don't think it fits in the above mentioned catgeory.

Sounds like one of them Science Script-Kiddies trying to walk off the bread-crumb trail that was laid out for him.

I agree with Stuart (the Viking) about people getting confused and forgetting what to do under stress.

Maybe the 'Muscle Memory' issue would have been a better gunfight topic for the Saurez-Dude than 'Fine Motor Control'.

Will said...

As Terry has mentioned, body sensor wearing Navy pilots landing on a carrier, at night, show more stress than the same pilots flying above Hanoi, which had the most heavily defended air space ever seen. They function fairly well at it.

Also, as Tam has indicated, she had no problems using hands, and feet, to control a suddenly out of sorts motorcycle at speed on the street.

People who don't engage in risky endevours like racing, generally think those who do are adrenalin junkies. Not so, or at least not as drug takers do. I can attest that an adrenalin dump occurring while roadracing a motorcycle is not conducive to maintaining a quick pace. This tends to happen when circumstances conspire to kill you at speed. The dump ramps up your mental clock speed to a very high rate, making it seem that things are suddenly moving at a much slower pace. This allows you to do more in the effort to bring the bike back under control. If successful, most racers will then have to back off the pace a little bit to recover from the extreme stress involved. It's sort of like catching your breath. Lots of variables here. Some are back on their race pace in just a corner or two, some take a lap or more. If you watch any racing, you have seen this occur.

One of the things that goes on while racing is your mental clock speed is ramped up a bit the whole time. Backing off the pace maybe 10 percent makes it seem like you could get off and run alongside, you are moving so slow. Don't know if this is provided by a slow leak of adrenalin, or some other brain chemicals pumped up. To some extent, this may be part of the attraction some of us have to risky environments. It reminds me a little of taking some of the ADD meds. You get very focused. If you take too much, you have a sort of jittery background feeling. Sort of like an itch driving you to move. That can be distracting, which is counter productive, sort of like the aftereffects of an adrenalin dump.



People react differently to sudden death situations. What they do, and how quickly they move to counter the problem, depends on their prior experiences. Not only real body, but also how closely you may have mapped out a mental scenario that matches what you are now facing. The closer you have diagrammed a situation, run through various permutations of it to optimize your response, the better/faster you will deal with it in real life. The top tier athletes do this, including racers. Think about it. Literally.