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While I’ve never been in a defensive incident on the street, I have been shot at in combat, and I can tell you that you are naturally going to be inclined to hide and seek cover if you have any training whatsoever. You are going to want to protect yourself.

When I train defensive shooters how to use cover, I don’t care about the rules of IDPA. I care about the minimal exposure possible. As long as you engrain that technique, I believe people will instinctively respond in ways that let them protect themselves as best as they can. We have a natural instinct to seek cover, as early as squirt gun fights from when we were kids. We know to hide ourselves, as long as we don’t have the freeze response. The freeze mode typically comes in when we are completely untrained and fear overrides thought.

Human survival is definitely hard wired, but it can also certainly be trained in to humans. People need to be taught by doing a certain number of training repetitions. I think they’ll revert to those if they do training in a static nature and then eventually in a dynamic nature, meaning under some stress, be that paintball or NLTA (non-lethal training munitions), Airsoft or an instructor telling you, “Hey, you need to move into a position of cover when you are firing or get there first.”

eJournal: Does competition shooting experience give some default response so the freeze doesn’t catch you?

Seeklander: Well, I think the competition shooting will give you the ability to run your gun system SO much better.

You have done so many draws so long as you are competing with equipment that is something like what you would use on the street. Competition trains your ability to hit accurately AT SPEED, under stress.

While you’re shooting a USPSA stage at speed, you are learning information processing. You are having to process SO many different things–you are manipulating the gun, you’re getting back on the sights, and you have to do these things at a speed far beyond the average police officer or military personnel guy’s training. My personal experience is that whether in competition or in NLTA (non-lethal training ammunition) scenarios, I could process things much faster than the normal pace at which the scenarios were happening and I think that is because of shooting competition.

eJournal: You were thinking on your feet. In the old days when we shot IPSC, we would do stage walk throughs before our turn to shoot came. Is that recommended, or do those rehearsals cut into the information processing experience you just described?

Seeklander: A lot of my competition course is about the stage walk through, the mental visualization and preparing your brain to do exactly what would be best. If you had the ten best shooters in the world and asked, “Who plans and visualizes a stage more than three times?” in my classes, a couple of the students would raise their hands. Then if I said, “Who plans and visualizes a stage more than ten times?” ALL of the top professional shooters would raise their hands, because all of them visualize and plan for each stage.

I teach the same thing to tactical students, too.