So let’s start studying the second mountain, because I can guarantee you that it can be climbed, it will take effort, sweat, sacrifice but the summit will repay you for all the efforts made to get there. I climbed it many years ago for the first time and since then I have never come down again, because there are no clouds up there, everything is extremely clear, everything make sense, that sense that I have searched for for years and which I still partially researching.
I called the second mountain “the Illusion of invincibility”THE SECOND MOUNTAIN – The very low sensory interaction in the training environment, i.e. the shooting range.
Here we are ladies and gentlemen, this is your second mountain, the most difficult, the most dangerous, the most devious, the most lethal. You read it right, the most lethal, because it is the one that if underestimated, the day you have to find yourself defending your life not only with a firearm but in any LTS (Life-Threatening Situation), this kills with greater incidence of any other dynamic, without leaving any trace and this is why it is so undervalued and so little known.
Let’s try to understand how it works and what we are talking about, because to find or analyze possible solutions, we must first isolate the problem.
Since it is an extremely complex and broad subject, I will try to simplify it as much as possible, doing so in a drastic way so doctors and scientists don’t mind me.
– Sensory interaction with the environment
Before delving into the matter and its most complex core, we need to know some data, some numbers that science today offers us with absolute reliability and which we need to better understand the main dynamics.
We generally perceive and interact with the surrounding environment 83% through our eyes, therefore through the sense of sight, 11% through our ears, therefore through the sense of hearing, 3.50% through smell, 1.50% through touch and 1% through taste, obviously these percentages have a general basis which must then adapt to subjectivity and serve to indicate the sensorial prevalence. Now in the part of the subject and in the field of application that we are dealing with, smell, touch and above all taste have an almost insignificant relevance (with the exception of some specific and extreme dynamics in which smell and touch can be decisive).
In reality, however, this series of data is incomplete even if it apparently tracks all five senses, but it is incomplete because two extremely important interaction dynamics are missing: the first is purely empirical and apparently scientifically not measurable or verifiable, the so-called “sixth sense ” and the other is absolutely demonstrable, complex to measure, but of strategic importance: that is, “cognitive interaction”.
The latter is not a true “sense” but it is the absolute queen of all five senses, it too has its own “organ apparatus” the brain, an organ of which many of its major aspects are still unknown today.
The most important numbers/parameters and those that we will take into consideration are therefore those linked to the greatest interactions with the environment, i.e. the first two those relating to sight and hearing.
In this regard we must necessarily make a clarification, which will be useful to us later to understand how to organize the work we will have to do when we build our inverted comfort zones. These percentages, these numbers are not fixed, they are all subject to changes and alterations which can be extremely rapid and which could travel at a speed of 300,000 km/s which is nothing other than the speed of light in air. Gentlemen, to give you an example, our 83% coming from sight is our main sense, but it changes as various factors vary, mainly one, that of light. Our eyes are not made to see in the dark and every sensitive change in the “perceived light” generates an adaptation in our visual system and requires a physiological time for adaptation and compensation to the new condition. Outside the natural environment, in the artificial one it is possible to go from an optimal light condition to a condition of absolute darkness in a few milliseconds.
– The 3 most probable stimuli (inputs) and the 3 main flow planes
When we talk about probable stimuli we must be careful not to confuse what is possible with what is probable, because an event is possible when there are no impediments for it to occur. An event is probable when the possibility of its occurrence is higher than that of its non-occurrence. So when we talk about more probable stimuli we are therefore talking about stimuli that are more likely to occur than others and therefore have a greater frequency.
In our application field of interest these are Visual Stimuli, Auditory Stimuli, and those linked to Cognitive and Neuro-Motor Skills. These will be the main interaction dynamics with which we will have to measure ourselves and they will also be the sensory levels that will produce the major flows of stimuli, constant flows of information that will have to be processed by our brain in real time.
– Cross a busy road. Simple action with high interaction flows.
I will use this example to make a comparison that can help you understand the problem better.
Crossing a road is considered by everyone to be a simple ordinary action, which certainly requires attention, but which does not present particular difficulties. In reality, simplicity is given by a condition of pre-knowledge of the major stimuli, by the frequency/repetition with which we have already performed that action, but during that short action our brain performs an enormous and extraordinary job in terms of sensorial interaction, i.e. analysis and rationalization of the high flows of stimuli coming from the surrounding environment.
You have to know that through the sensory apparatus, our brain is able on a visual level to detect the position of any static and dynamic element found within our field of vision or FOV
(Field Of View). Not only that, it is able to calculate the approximate distance from us, the movement trajectory, the approximate speed, the possible intersection of our trajectory with that of one or more moving elements around us, tracing in real time a potential danger by creating an immediate neuromotor response. Think of a car or motorbike coming at high speed as we cross the road. On an auditory level, it is able to perceive stimuli by extrapolating and discriminating them from the background noise pollution, which is absolutely high in our cities, it is able to trace the direction of origin of the stimulus and the approximate distance of the source of the stimulus with respect to our position and therefore its possible processing priority. Think of the noise of a high-revving engine, the noise produced by the tires of a car when cornering or the noise produced by them during sudden braking or the noise of a horn.
Well, now think that this action usually happens in a rather short time, often (unfortunately) even while we are perhaps talking on the cell phone, therefore with the production and absorption of other flows of information and stimuli which must also be processed in real time, and which are added to the process of analysis of the already extremely high flows of stimuli coming from the surrounding environment.
– The shooting range, our training environment
Our training environment with the firearm, which we described in detail in the first mountain, is therefore an environment that is defined as having very low sensory stimulation, but let’s analyze carefully why. Meanwhile, the shooting range is a controlled, two-dimensional and static environment, so on a visual level there are no dynamic elements, but predominantly static elements and if there are semi-static elements, they are in any case pre-known, with pre-known trajectories and movement. The elements to be discriminated (targets) are obvious, extremely poorly detailed, two-dimensional and almost always pre-known. The light conditions are, as already mentioned, normally optimal so on a visual level we have very little stimulation and generally based on pre-known static elements.
On an auditory level, things are even worse, in terms of logic and characteristics, shooting ranges are environments with very low auditory stimulation and we mainly find 3 types of stimuli: the noise of the shot, our voice and that of those who are close to us, and the sound of the possible phono-chronometer (shot timer) or the famous BEEEP which we will talk about later. Therefore on the auditory level there is nothing to discriminate, there is no noise pollution from which to extrapolate fundamental stimuli, all auditory stimuli are pre-known and already perceived previously thousands and thousands of times.
Therefore 94% of the sensorial interaction is to be considered absolutely very low intensity and if empirically we were to assign a hypothetical intensity value to the sensorial interaction of the two examples given, I would assign 75% to crossing the busy road and 3% at the shooting range.
– The global standards in the shooting evaluation
Today 98% of shooting qualification tests, tests or shooting evaluation exercises, tests or maintenance protocols are based solely on two parameters: Time and Effectiveness. The time is measured with the phono-chronometer (shot timer), the effectiveness through the analysis of the result on the target.
This at a global level and in all environments starting from the MIL, passing through LE and arriving at the Civil one, both defensive and sporting.
This therefore means that the skills and technical level of a subject relating to the application of the firearm in shooting and handling are evaluated mainly or solely through those 2 parameters.
Now, it must be said that time and effectiveness are certainly two fundamental parameters and that certainly must be taken into consideration, but the point is: how and when to do it, because both are subordinated to a fundamental preliminary process which is instead totally ignored.
In fact, the main problem of today’s condition is not in the choice of reference parameters, but in the interpretation given to the data resulting from the analysis done by the large majority of Agencies.
Let me explain better, if a shooter fires 10 shots at a target at 10 yds in a time of about 3 seconds, starting from the draw and the result is 10 Alpha and makes a very concentrated grouping, according to those two parameters he has performed an excellent performance and has demonstrated speed and precision as well as consistency. We could all agree on this, but if we then consider those 3 seconds his actual reactive time, we make a huge mistake, because we are not measuring his reaction time at all but his “mechanical time” or the time with which it takes place what is called a “simple reaction”.
What is the difference between a simple and a complex reaction and not only at the neuromotor level ?
The difference is given by the type of stimuli to which one responds, i.e. whether these are pre-known or not, and the frequency with which one has responded to those same stimuli previously.
Therefore, making a general analysis of the conditions with which today we evaluate the abilities relating to the handling and use of a firearm by a subject, we can say that:
any shooting exercise, any shooting test, any evaluation protocol is based on pre-known dynamics, on almost always pre-known targets, on pre-known actions, responding to a single auditory stimulus, also pre-known, extremely long, the beep ( average duration 0.20), with the awareness of the imminence of the action. On the range we will always move first with respect to the target, we will be the first to shoot and also the only ones to do so.
You will understand by yourself that all of this is absolutely far from being considered “reactive time” or the “Immediate Response Time” and every time we make this mistake, we will create what is called a dangerous training scar, as well as making a serious error of evaluation on the subject who performed the test.
End of part 2