THE PHYSIOLOGY OF FIRING A GUN

Published in Firearms, Home Page
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In a real life situation, firing a gun, especially for the first time is not as glamorous or easy as it looks in the movies. In a high stress situation such as this, your body’s fight or flight responses kick in. These are natural survival instincts honed by humans over millions of years. Your body goes through a variety of chemical and hormonal reactions. When working in a position such as a law enforcement officer or armed security guard where it may be necessary to use a firearm, it’s important to understand your body’s physiological reactions and train yourself to stay calm in times of stress.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF YOUR FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSES?

Your fight or flight responses are there to protect you. You may experience increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, increased breathing rate and a supercharging of the body. These are all chemical reactions caused by adrenaline running through your body, your body’s natural steroid production, your blood vessels constrict and bronchi dilate in your lungs.
In amongst this your dexterity and fine motor skills deteriorate, you may be familiar with getting shaky when you feel stressed, your knees feel weak and your hands and body may tremble which makes it very difficult to handle objects, concentrate and think clearly. Of course having to use your firearm in real life situation is very different to during a training course but it is important to be prepared for the reactions that may occur.

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO TRAIN YOUR FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSES?

Studies have shown that the mind has power over the body. Even in situations of extreme stress, with the right training you can teach your brain to deal with this stress. In the moment you may not have the time to take a deep breath and calm yourself but if you do, that’s a great technique to regain focus, but controlling your flight or flight responses to help you stay calm under pressure is something you need to invest a lot of work on overtime.

Understanding your fight or flight responses is the first step to controlling them: you’re a person who gets shaky, your stomach flips or you fumble when you’re in a stressful situation, take note of these reactions and train yourself to talk to your body to let your mind take control of the situation instead of your body.

Be present: It’s incredibly important that you practice being present. You may use meditation or mindfulness to assist with this but whatever you do, you need to make sure you are very much in the moment.

Use the responses in a positive way: Your fight or flight responses are there to protect you. If you can learn to channel the energy in a positive way you’ll use your fight or flight responses exactly as they’re intended to assist you in a dangerous or life threatening situation.

Ray Mancini offers firearms training courses in Perth, throughout Australia and internationally. If you’d like to learn more about controlling your fight or flight responses and using them to benefit you to increase your safety in your line of work or any life threatening situation, contact Ray Mancini on 1800 288 003.

Ray Mancini

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