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Fear Aggression in Gunfighting - header image

Fear Aggression in Gunfighting

I want to discuss a topic we see with dogs, but has rarely been ever used to describe humans in conflict. That is Fear Aggression. Look at the two images above. Before reading the rest of the article look at them and see the differences in demeanor, posture, emotion, as well as the outward manifestation of those emotions.

On the left we see a small dog baring his teeth. If a picture could have sound you could almost hear the little growl coming from the little throat rolling into a full blow little bark. The little dog is afraid and if he was a human, we would say he was emotional, upset, and loudly acting out those emotions. A fear aggressive dog is dangerous because he is unpredictable and uncontrollable and his fear will lead him to bite even if biting is not what is called for...and even then, those bites will be applied hesitantly and poorly.

On the right we see a wolf on the stalk. Look at the image again. There is no fear in the wolf, no emotional arousal, no anger nor hate. There is no snarling or growling. In fact, if there is any emotion involved it is contained as any show of emotion would compromise his objective. If he was a human we would say that the wolf is poised for action. He is calm, but sprung for action. Something is about to happen and the wolf is making it happen. When the wolf bites, it is deep, concentrated and focused.

Now lets shift the discussion to humans. A large number of gunmen (a collective term I plan on using to describe good men and women who carry weapons ostensibly to fight evil gunmen) are fear-aggressive trained. In other words they are trained to be the little dog on the left rather than the wolf on the right.

I think the majority of police officers and armed CCW people today are trained to operate in fear. They are taught, unnecessarily, to be afraid of everything to do with the fight. They fear the adversary/suspect, they fear the agency policies, the public opinion, the legal system, and anything else that I haven't mentioned. And all of the fear is trained as it is unjustified. They are "fear aggressive" when faced with any sort of danger.

I think they are trained to be Fear-Aggressive because that is what those who trained them knew best. One generally teaches what one knows and understands. The attitude that is most desirable is not the snarling little fear-biter with the emotionally-driven outburst of words, and often bullets. Fear-aggression often leads to fear-shooting. And fear-shooting is rarely justified, clean or well done shooting. The attitude that is more desirable is the Predator Mindset illustrated by the stalking wolf.

The Predator does not show emotional arousal, or anger. The Predator does not yell or posture and does not develop a relationship to or with his adversary. He has a cool-minded determination to overcome and defeat the adversary. The adversary is in fact, nothing more than a target. The predator has a situational awareness and is planning his positioning and maneuver to take advantage of the environment at the time he launches his action. The exchange is not a give and take as would be seen in a sparring match or a sporting event. He moves decisively and with finality. He has already decided to kill the adversary and is merely waiting for the visual or audible signal that justifies his launch. There is nothing defensive about his attitude once the signal has been recognized.

There are many gunmen that cannot let go of the fear-aggressive model they have been trained and indoctrinated in. They will say that we cannot be predators and that the laws say this or say that. Actually, they and their trainers, are wrong. There is a difference in creating an event, and reacting to an event presented to you. Once the event has been presented to you vis-a-vis the actions of the adversary, you are free to think of it as you wish. The key and important thing here is the recognition of the unfolding event.

The Fear-Aggressive will see these events far differently than the Predator. That is the key to success and what we will discuss next time, and a key component of the victor self-image.