Tuesday, May 6, 2014

brain chemicals

Many times before I’ve pleaded and cautioned and cajoled and admonished- please, for the love of all that’s good and just and holy, be advised and afraid. Under the stress of combat your body will betray you, not work as instructed and you will fire off all twenty eight rounds of 223 from your prized plastic carbine in a near panic and before you know it all your ammo will be gone and you will die. I have been poo-pahed, ridiculed, called unflattering names and mocked. So, let’s take a more detailed look at you, stress and brain chemicals. When you are threatened, your heart rate increases and stress hormones and adrenaline is released. Gross motor skill improve, meaning you can run faster or hit harder. However, there is no free lunch. For your body to “pay” for that action, your finer motor skills degrade. In one study, Navy SEALS were run on a vigorous obstacle course. The scenario at the end was they were “taking prisoners”. Most participants were unable to thread the ends of the plastic zip ties together due to the stress and exertion. If any one of you tells me you can perform better than a SEAL I will vomit blood onto your shoes.


In an interview with a seasoned paramedic, it was stated that the average family member under stress had to get a neighbor to dial 911 for them. Their fine motor skills and judgment were that degraded. I have personal experience with this, as I’ll cover shortly. There are physical reactions to stress. You don’t control them. The lenses in your eyes can change contour, less blood reaches the fingers as it is diverted to the major muscles, the infamous bladder and bowel loss of control as the body runs triage ( it can only super-charge at the expense of abandonment ) and reasoning and judgment shut down as the primal brain assumes command ( this eliminates lost time ). There are hundreds of reactions, all beyond your control.


In another test, Special Forces SERE school students were tested for cognitive abilities under stress. 60 out of 64 reverted to prepubescent levels as the norepinephrine is affecting the neurotransmitters. If any of you tell me you are more capable than Green Berets of handling stress, I will shake my trousers and dribble bloody stool on your shoes. There are two ways to minimize combat stress. One is “stress inoculation”. Thirty years ago while on patrol, I was confronted with a relatively minor injury. It was bad enough for stress to all but incapacitate me, not bad enough for my taking too long to hurt the injured further. I was able to radio for the unit medic ( that part was easy, radio use being a “no-brainer” through long practice ). This was what woke me up to the fact that I wasn’t cut out for LEO work ( too analytic, not reactive enough ). Thirteen years or so ago, I was riding bikes with my two kids. If you put them in front, they are beyond your control. Put them in back, you can’t see them. And of course, something bad had to happen. My daughter was hit, but luckily it was in a parking lot so the speeds were not a factor. Again, I froze. Luckily it was sunny crowded Florida so everyone was out and about. A bystander called an ambulance ( no injuries, just stress. Thank goodness ). The third time there was a medical emergency, about two or three years ago, I was all alone with the now-ex wife. Luckily, this time I could respond with far less incapacitation or time wastage. Still some, but now where near as bad. This was stress inoculation. My brain was no longer locked up as it had dwelt with similar situations before. For those of you lacking combat experience, there is the second stress reduction tool, repetitive training.


This one is easy. In combat, you don’t rise to the occasion. You sink to your training. Good or bad ( the examples from law enforcement of officers stopping in combat to revert to practice. Scooping up spent brass, or holstering their weapon even when they were engaged because they had for so long practiced the “quick draw, twice fire, holster” ). How many of you can afford to train the right way? The pop up targets through the maze, the thousands of rounds of acquiring muscle memory? I know I can’t. Which has been why I have insisted on the role your firearm plays. A semi is spray and pray under stress, where a bolt forces your action of not wasting a shot. Hey, my solution is far from perfect. My only point is that it is a “two-fer”. You have ammo far longer after the collapse than the semi owners, and both the rifles and the total ammo cost are much cheaper. However you choose to solve the brain chemical issue, at least beware it exists and know you can’t manly wish it away with machismo. I know a very small minority of you can escape the worst under stress, or are trained or are experienced. A very small minority. For the vast majority, the above applies.



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  1. So would promoting marijuana use (for that mellow feeling) among your security detail help? Except they might eat more and not be worth their keep.

    The best advice I have ever read for retreat defense is to issue mostly .22 rifles with just a few 'reach out and touch someone' rifles. The .22 will lay down the suppression fire while the sniper rifle can take care of your problems.

    The .22 is also easy for children, grandparents and adults unfamiliar with guns to use. Ammo use to be cheap at 3 cents a round.

    This is assuming that you followed Lord Bison's advice and stocked up early on .22 before the current shortage.

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. If anyone believes the copper shortage is forever, all previous rimfire advice, mine included, in null and void

  2. Just thought I would share this interesting quote:
    “They’ ll never let you get out of debt,” Casey said gravely. “You know that, right? Why would they do something so stupid?” He left each sentence hanging in the air, looking from one pair of eyes to the next. “Used to be, to enslave a person, you had to beat him constantly and take him far from home. Maybe kill a few other slaves in front of him to show what’d happen if he got lippy or tried to escape. Put him in chains. Keep him ignorant. Isolate him. Make him feel less than human. But look at you. Hell , they’ve got it wired so well now you think you’re free. You people are slaves and you don’t even know it. They know better than to call it slavery. They just tell you that you owe them money and they set all the rules for how you can pay ‘em back....

    Kay, Elliott (2013-01-20). Poor Man's Fight (Kindle Locations 72-78). . Kindle Edition.


    1. I read that one-seem to recall liking it. I'll put that on my amazon ad.

  3. Guy I know garage caught on fire, he pulled out his lawn tractor while it was locked in gear. After the fire was out he could not budge the thing.

  4. Physical strength is part of preparedness.
    Start with hands on third step. When you
    can easily do 30 pushups two times a day,
    move to second
    step, then to first step. When you can
    do 50 pushups on first step you will
    be considerably stronger. If you do not
    have stairs, start with hands on kitchen
    counter, then to chairs, then to the floor.
    Physical fitness, like self defence, is
    voluntary. You may prefer not to do
    PS I hear that a gun is like a parachute.
    You need and do not have one only one time.

  5. There lies the dead horse, long ago expired and putrefaction advanced to the stage that it hardly even resembles a horse any longer.

    Even so, you just cannot help yourself and occasionally have to compulsively reach out begin beating on it yet AGAIN as though the damn thing might rise up and bite you in the ass. You're freaking obsessed.

    I'm wondering how you (or everybody else you include in your postulation) can be so incapable of managing to NOT waggle your trigger finger like a tweaker fingering a difficult to reach (or maybe even imaginary) booger yet be so superbly competent when working the bolt action on your ammo-conserving rifle?

    And just in case you should be confronted by say two or more opponents (more than one, at any rate) won't they be ever so appreciative of how much ammo you did in fact save for them to use after they overwhelm your hopelessly inadequate firepower.

    For hunting, sniper work or anything that doesn't practically beg for the ability to make rapid follow-up shots, I agree that a bolt action has the advantage. But there's a reason the military quit issuing them for combat a while back, you know?

    And whatever the hell you have for defense, don't expect on surviving multiple firefight encounters anyway unless you happen to be Rambo or Mad Max.

    All of the above meant in the most loving manner, of course.

    1. I'll forgive the lack of hair praise, because of the last sentance. And I thank you for the article idea ( short term gain for long term doom ). Also, please beware that I'm just now getting warmed up being compulsive.