Allow me to paint you a scenario. You’re a twenty something-year-old female. You’re walking home alone from the library, a half-mile walk through urban terrain. You notice somebody following you. You keep an eye on him. When you check on him next, you notice that he’s continued to follow you and has increased his pace. You turn around to confront him, but before you can say the words, he produces a switchblade and closes in on you. You’re a concealed carry permit holder and you have a pistol tucked in your waistband or in your purse. You draw it and try to aim, but your heart is pounding and your hands are trembling. You can’t get a good sight picture and the threat can sense your fear. Through all of that stress, are you going to be able to place two rounds at center mass, and stop the threat before he reaches blade-effective range?

Unfortunately, many people who carry concealed are incapable of operating under battle stress. Those of us who are current or prior military or law enforcement receive some training in how to keep our cool and focus in a time-is-life situation. In comparison, I have been to two CCL courses (one in Texas and one in Arizona) and the shooting portions of both were very simple, very calm, static shoots. Seeing how many people missed under relaxed conditions has highlighted how ill-prepared the average CCL applicant is. In the absence of regulation-mandated stress shoots, it is incumbent upon us to train harder for the worst case scenario.

As highlighted in the opening paragraph, fighting in a time-is-life situation is immensely different to static shooting on the range. By no means should one forego practicing the basics via static shooting on the grounds of, “Well, that guy at The Arms Guide said that I need to train for time-is-life, so I only need to focus on stress shooting!” Static shooting is important for developing fundamental marksmanship skills. However, training for the time-is-life is also critical, and often neglected.

When I was on active duty, we did a very basic type of stress shoot. We moved up to the firing line, and cadre members (non-commissioned officers) would invade our personal space and scream profanities at us in an attempt to make us nervous or throw us off of our game. I would “breathe out the stupid,” as I like to say, focus on my targets, and engage them one by one. The screaming cadre became background noise. Other variants used by military and LEOs  involve vigorous calisthenics prior to shooting to simulate movement to contact.