Decision Making for the Shooter

When we think about those people who we as a society entrust to mete out violence on our behalf, many of the uninitiated are unaware of the complexity of what we require of them. Any person who gives you a knee-jerk response about the application of violence regarding police officers, security personnel, or the troops is probably not worth attempting to having an educated and constructive conversation with on the topic. The difference between the professionals given the use of violence and anyone else is training. Training in what they are paid to do, maintain, and have situational awareness of:

  • Mission
  • Context
  • Legalities
  • Participants
  • Implications
  • Resources
  • Operational skills
  • Welfare of people and property

That list isn’t exhaustive but it certainly covers many aspects of for instance, a law enforcement officer’s duties. Related to each one is the officer’s decision making process which will dictate the outcomes and efficacy of any action they take. We pay them to make THE most important decisions we could possibly entrust anyone to do. They decide if and when to apply deadly force to other human beings and we all must live with their decisions as we sanction them tacitly or otherwise. So this is where you, our officers, troops, and citizens have to excel in our collective responsibility to create, offer, and implement the most effective means of making these decisions in any situation.

Here are a couple links on decision making in general (if you have some time):

Article by Gary Klein who has helped change Army and Navy Special Operations leadership doctrine:

We have to remember that while business deals, life choices, and the like are stressful our shooters bear the weight of heavier responsibility in the lives of others and they do so under duress and often in fractions of a second.

Dave Spaulding in HandGuns Magazine:

As shooters, making solid decisions is part of the craft and as such, train to reach the best split-second decisions and tactical choices available. Learn how the mind works and the different schools of thought on decision making.

The military builds up scenarios and experiences for troops to draw upon as references to solve future problems. We train as we fight. We prepare for what may happen and get our muscle memory, minds, and decision making skills primed to respond. Our police do the same. This is a perishable skill however, you have to keep challenging your responses. You have to put yourself in the uncomfortable situation of being tested and evaluated to such a degree that you aren’t sure you will come out having succeeded. That is where the real training value is.

The question isn’t should you be training your officers and troops to make these choices it is how. The military uses sleep deprivation, withholds food, and physically exhausts its members to apply stress that clouds the decision making process. It works there very well, but it isn’t a solution for every shooter or their respective entities. Physical training is an option, stress shooting, and marathon drills, another is imposing fear. We do that currently in the training industry by offering pain incentives. For instance, pain is inflicted for failure to find cover while taking effective fire.

You’ve got options in regards to applying stress to your training, find the one that fits best for your scenarios.


How we can help:

The StressX belt delivers 4,500 volts of electricity in under a second when an officer is engaged using our equipment. This is very unpleasant but not debilitating. You do not want to be “shot,” again once you’ve realized the training isn’t going to be the dog and pony show you may have experienced before. At the same time, our gear will not damage your training site, not damage your officers (multiple training accidents every year due to paint rounds) and not put you in ridiculous and unrealistic gear.

So go ahead and schedule a meeting with the chamber of commerce or the superintendent of schools and find suitable training sites for real-world critical scenarios. Get those officers the training background they need so that when the call really comes they have the references required to rectify the situation having made the best choices available.