Fine motor skills, do you really lose it under stress?

Discussion in 'The Classroom' started by Kodiakco, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. Kodiakco

    Kodiakco XDTalk 100 Member

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    I've heard over and over again that during stress a person may lose fine motor skills. As I have read about this subject I have started to believe that this may not actually be true. One example that sticks in my mind are fighter pilots. They are under a lot of stress in combat and at the same time work all of the electronics and comm gear. I also think of a trauma surgeon who is under great stress in an emergency or mass disaster situation. How about the snipers that makes a record breaking long distance shot while they KNOW their comrades are being shot and killed in battle?

    As shooters we have been taught grip, stance, sight alignment and trigger control. We have also been taught that repetition creates muscle memory.. Then comes "During a stress situation you can't count on your body and muscles to perform". Somehow the two schools of thought appear to contradicts each other. Consider that pulling a trigger is a fine motor skill and yet releasing a slide is not. I've observed that some have said that it is better to release a slide a certain way due to loose of fine motor skills and at the same time say you should pull the trigger straight back, clearly a fine motor skill.

    I am by no means a body mechanics expert or even extraordinarily well versed in the human body and mind. As a sample of one, I look back at some of my actions and others under stress and have trouble believing that one ALWAYS loses fine motor skills under stress.

    Maybe it is actually the training, or lack there of, that is the deciding factor. Maybe drive and desire play a part. It could also be that ones calmness of mind hinders the bodies "fight or fight" reflex. I thought that this would be a good topic to discuss. I would really like to hear others LEARNED opinions on this.

    Sent from my ASUS Transformer Pad TF700T using Tapatalk 4 Beta

     
  2. Fileobrother

    Fileobrother XDTalk 500 Member

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    I wouldn't say it's a complete contradiction. When you are under stress, you revert to instinct. If you've practiced and acquired instinctual fine motor skills, you will likely retain and use them under stress. Conversely, try learning a new way to shoot while being shot at. It's not necessarily a loss of fine motor control, as much as a zero gain.
     
  3. AwPhuch

    AwPhuch XDTalk 15K Member

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    Training compensates for the increased stresses and heart rate/adrenaline.

     
  4. _JB_

    _JB_ XDTalk 100 Member

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    When my body kicks in adrenaline I start to shake, so pushing a small button may take a little longer.
     
  5. memo

    memo XDTalk 1K Member

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    Fun story: I used to get really tense for sparring and practice fights -- spent all my energy just clenching up and never getting anything done. Had to retrain my adrenaline response: it never leaves you, you'll always have the adrenaline rush from a fight, but you can teach your body how to better handle it.

    How do you do this for guns?

    Do some fast cardio, get your heart rate up, then do target drills. Have caffeine + sugar to simulate the effects of adrenaline and try to control your hands shaking. Run half a mile flat-out, then draw and intelligently defend yourself. Drill weak hand. Drill strong hand. Drill from the ground on your back. Drill from kneeling.

    And of course, enter in a defensive pistol competition. Don't worry about the other competitors, don't worry about your ranking, use your carry gun and do your best. Most EDC guns should be stock service pistol, so enter an IDPA match and see how your body handles it. It's not the real thing, but it'll get your blood up.
     
  6. cz75luver

    cz75luver XDTalk 3K Member

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    It depends on conditioning and training and is likewise person dependent. I had to draw my M9 once while in Afghanistan. Being that I was in a vehicle, I thought it better to keep the safety on, but when I drew and readied to use it, it took me three attempts to disengage the safety. That's three attempts at a flick of the thumb and I had to focus just a tiny bit on the third attempt. It maybe took all of two seconds, but seemed a lot longer at the time.

    As for the rest of it, I felt light as a feather, my lips, nose, fingers tingled, and everything slowed down. My heart beat so hard/strong that I thought the person next to me could clearly hear it through all the noise. Other than the safety, my mind was clear and focused. Despite how I was physically feeling, my mind ran through what I considered the likely scenarios to happen and then I just waited/prepared for one. My mind was actually quite calm and ran through the thoughts matter-of-factly.

    The only part that required fine motor skills was disengagement of the safety, but as mentioned, it took me a few attempts to finally get it. It's because of this I will never carry a gun with a safety engaged. I either carry a straight, non-safety, striker fired gun such as a PPQ or Glock, or carry a DA pistol such as one of my CZs that doesn't allow you to engage the safety when in DA mode.

    After the incident above, I never, ever carried the M9 with the safety engaged when travelling. Every person will react differently. I can only speak for myself.
     
  7. Dad4mnc

    Dad4mnc XDTalk Member

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    Read "On Combat" by Lt Colonel David Grossman.
     
  8. cz75luver

    cz75luver XDTalk 3K Member

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    I think you're mixing and confusing the different/various scenarios. There's a huge difference between feeling anxious versus your instinct taking over just as there's a huge difference between self preservation and the preservation of another. A sniper won't feel the same level of stress as they are not physically the ones in immediate danger unless being shot at themselves. Same goes for a surgeon whose life is not in danger. A fighter pilot spends a ton of time in real-world training and simulators so that they react via pre-conditioned steps/operations.

    Likewise, I don't consider pulling a trigger a fine motor skill as under stress (for the average person), I think it'll be more like gripping/clenching the gun, but it all depends on the situation. If gripping/clenching, the trigger finger would be the only one with freedom to move thereby pulling the trigger. A lot of it will depend on training.

    Many think they're going to get the perfect grip, get into the perfect stance, etc. when their life is immediately in danger. I think they're dreaming. I think they'll more closely do what they've trained to do and do the best they can.
     
  9. Kodiakco

    Kodiakco XDTalk 100 Member

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    Thanks everyone for the responses so far. Its really interesting, the different thoughts of everyone. Keep it coming!

    Sent from my ASUS Transformer Pad TF700T using Tapatalk 4 Beta
     
  10. Groo

    Groo XDTalk 10K Member

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    you can make instinctive fine movements under extreme stress, but if its something you have to think about at all; forget it.
     
  11. fredj338

    fredj338 XDTalk 10K Member

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    I don't think you can make it a blanket statement, all people are diff. I have seen people under stress not be able to even walk, so it's going to vary with each person. Training is the key, training & mindset. If you train & put your mind thru what ifs, then when something does happen, you'll function better under what ever stress that is.
    One reason I like gun games like IDPA for practice. It's some stress, so makes you function thru it. It's very recognizable in noobs to the sport, they forget everything & their shooting goes to crap at the buzzer. After a few matches, their shooting comes back. Get training, work on your mindset & find a good practice environment like IDPA & do it.
     
  12. MissRanger

    MissRanger XDTalk Newbie

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    I am an Occupational Therapist and I have extensive knowledge in this area. I'll try and keep this pretty basic without a bunch of neuro mumbo jumbo:). Have you ever had a lot on your mind, and you simply do things in your daily routine without even thinking about it (i.e. brush your teeth, or driving home without thinking about how to get there, locking your car door and not even realizing you did, etc). This is habituation on a daily basis in a broad sense. When you motor plan an action, and complete a pattern over and over, you develop motor pathways in the brain for this action. Let's say you are trying to improve your technique with a golf swing, or throwing a curve ball. You would need to replicate the precise motor pattern over and over (research also shows that visualization practice prior to the motor action also assists with this) to develop a motor pathway. When you do this enough times, you are training your muscles and the connection to your brain that "this is important, we need to do it this way". your brain will myelinate neurons to a pathway making the connection faster and a primary access (permanent). This is one piece of the pie when thinking about motor skills and the connection to the brain. And this is why we can do alot of things without thinking about it, and why some bad habits can be difficult to break (i.e. biting fingernails and not realizing right away you are doing it). Your brain remembers everything and is setting up connections, so it's critical to practice and complete every hand/body movement the same way each time when shooting. If you get sloppy with your technique, your brain will basically hard wire that and that is what you'll end up doing under stress.
    Another reason this is extremely important: We have primary reflex patterns that are the foundation to movement and function. They are VERY strong, hard wired in our brain, and will always kick in to "save you from danger" (even if you really are not in danger but a special part of your brain thinks you are). A specific example I have is the robinson grasp reflex pattern in your hand--have you ever put something in the hand of a baby and they automatically close their fingers around the object (usually a rattle pressing on the tactile point in the palm)...this is that reflex. All primary reflex patterns are automatic (some people may have some dysfunction with them but they are still there) and require a specific stimulus to activate them. This grasp pattern is stimulated when tactile input is placed in the palm, along the base of your fingers. When tactile input is placed there (i.e. your handgun), the automatic response is to flex ALL FINGERS to grasp. When we go to the range, and practice, we keep our finger out of the trigger area. Under stress, our brains natural response is to use what it knows best and that is to flex all fingers.I feel that is why some people shoot themselves reholstering in a stressful situation (because often times that is something we may not practice enough). It's imperative that you practice safe patterns, so your brain has another pathway to access under stress. Another thing: There is fight, flight and freeze response. Have you ever noticed how some people completely freeze and won't move, or become disoriented?
     
  13. drs1321

    drs1321 XDTalk 5K Member

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    I have had stressful, unexpected situations occur where my adrenaline kicks in and I lose some fine motor skills. Hell, in a couple of instances I could hardly remember the previous 5 minutes. I do think its possible to train through certain situations, but in my experience when such situations pop up unexpectedly, you're adrenaline does most of the work.

    Funny though, I've had other situations that were equally as stressful and I can remember everything as clear as day, and had no loss of fine motor skills.
     
  14. AwPhuch

    AwPhuch XDTalk 15K Member

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    nice

    I guess punctuation wasn't on the docket for Occupational Therapist training ...I use em too much...maybe I used up your allotments of punctuation :p
     
  15. MissRanger

    MissRanger XDTalk Newbie

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    WOW. :shock:

     

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