Written by Greg Ellifritz
Watch the short video above. It illustrates one of the most common mistakes I see students perform in scenario training. I see cops on the street doing it every day as well.
The video is of a police car chase. The suspect car stops and the driver starts shooting at the officer at about the 45 second mark. The officer returns fire from a position out of view of the dash camera, presumably from behind some type of cover.
After the initial fusillade, he leaves his position and starts moving around the rear of the car…far away from any cover. He’s doing what I my students do all the time. He’s trying to get a better view of what’s happening.
In very stressful incidents, it is common for our bodies to prioritize sensory acuity. The body recognizes that it is in danger and tends to “blunt” all senses but the one that is most important to survival at that very moment. One of the most common phenomena that people in shootings report is “auditory exclusion”. They don’t hear what is being said because the body is concentrating all its resources on the sense of sight.
I see it over and over again….students and co-workers leave good positions of cover so that they can get a better view of what’s going on. Did the officer need to see anything more than what he was seeing? Either the suspect was disabled or he was playing dead, waiting for a better shot. Seeing more wouldn’t help in either situation. Stay put and wait for your backup (or the police if you aren’t a cop). There’s no need to see any more!
Fortunately, the officer’s backup arrived quickly. Watch the backup officer stop the initial officer’s frantic movements and drag him back to cover at around 1:09. The backup officer had his head in the game and recognized that there wasn’t anything to immediately gain from seeing into that car.
It isn’t just in the context of traffic stops. I see it in many other situations as well. Resist the urge to try to see more!
The best way to prevent this from happening is to run through a mental checklist after any life threatening confrontation. After shooting you should be asking the following questions:
1) Did I hit him and is he out of the fight?
2) Does he have any friends?
3) Can I get to a better position?
That third question is the one that comes into play here. You Jiujitsu players will understand…you must constantly work to achieve a better position versus your opponent. It’s the same in gunfighting…once the initial problem is solved, seek a better position!
Just remember this dictum….Better position, NOT better view!