Author Topic: On Killing  (Read 2088 times)

Offline Bluegrass2003

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On Killing
« on: July 30, 2012, 02:41:08 PM »
I wanted to stir the pot on the subject of warrior science. We talk a lot about gear, which grain bullet to use and how much powder, whether a .45 is better then a 9mm for stopping power but I never really see much talk about the mind. It is the most important part of self defense in my book it'll keep you alive and if used properly in conjunction with a weapon in a self defense incident keep you out of prison. I do a lot of self education in this area and I'm working on a degree in applied psychology.

I've been in high stress and life threatening situations before and was shocked to experience some of the same physiological reactions reported in much of my study. I've interviewed friends at work (Coast guard aviation) about their experiences in helicopter crashes, and many report the same findings. The facinating thing is seeing how conditioning and training navigates an individual through those high stress incounters.

A subject matter expert I look to is Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and his Warrior Science group. I think his series the bullet proof mind is essential if one is to carry a weapon whether you're a police officer, soldier, sailor, Coast Guardsman, or Citizen exercising your 2ND amendment rights.

Two books I've read through several times are "On Killing" and "On Combat" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. I've read them several times because the amount of information packed into his books is like trying to take a sip from a fire hydrant. I've delved into several of John Douglas's books about criminal psychology and profiling and Roy Hazelwood's "The evil that men do".

anyways, I don't want to flood one post with a whole bunch of stuff just wanted to see who else out there has experienced things in combat or has had strange things happen during an incident or if anyone is just plain interested in this topic. I think the more I looked into it the more interesting it got.

-Ian
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Offline endurance

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2012, 03:02:04 PM »
On Killing is an excellent book.  It helps to know the challenges that might emerge when it comes time to pull the trigger.  I know the first time I had to actually hold a gun on someone during a felony traffic stop, all my training kicked in and I kept lowering my gun unconsciously off the person.  It took months before I could actually hold a gun on someone when I needed to without the subconscious lowering that every gun safety class I'd ever taken taught me.

If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest picking up a copy of Laurence Gonzalez's book Deep Survival.  Another fascinating look into the human mind under stress.  I found it had an inoculating effect for me, causing me to see warning signs earlier and translate that little voice in my head that said 'danger' into a checklist of hazards that I could analyze and thus formulate a wiser course of action.  That's the stuff that keeps you from getting in the gunfight in the first place.
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Offline Bluegrass2003

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2012, 03:39:34 PM »
I will check that out thanks. I think it's a good topic to discuss especially in this self-reliance community. If heavan forbid someday we would actually have to kill or be killed the mind should be prepared to do so. There is a natural human resistance to not kill another human being. As pointed out in "on killing" this is why we come up with names for the enemy like "gooks" "krauts" and "sand monkeys" or "towel heads".  It's why historically soldiers have reported aiming high as to not kill an enemy soldier. Or why weapons recovered from battles during the napoleanic era were recovered with multiple loads in the barrel. It is healthy to resist killing another person thank god. How ever the very purpose of his book is the science behind being able to turn that switch on and off.

I like what you said about the warning signs. It's a true paradigm mixing adrenaline perception of time and training almost like its another voice speaking to you while its happening. Borders on the metaphysical i think.
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Offline endurance

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2012, 04:03:18 PM »
The trick is that roughly 2-4% of the population are Sociopaths/psychopaths and don't have the same resistance to taking the life of another that we do.  Of course, they may never kill simply because they're aware of the consequences or because it doesn't advance their goals in life, but still, to think that as many as 1 in 25 people out there don't have a conscience is some frightening stuff.

I remember the hair standing up on the back of my neck the first time I talked with my step-dad about his experiences in North Africa in Patton's Third Army.  He said his Lt. assigned to guys to him just to load guns for him because he was such an accurate shot.  I'd already read Grossman and thought it wasn't because he was accurate, it was because he was willing.
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Offline Bluegrass2003

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2012, 05:27:49 PM »
Excellent point! Its true and I've heard Jack make similar points about the population percentage. To add further to the sociopath/psycopath point grossman points out that many soldiers do not have a problem killing but those soldiers aren't necessarily socio or psycophathic. They can just naturally turn it on and off. Those men are normally found in the SF community which makes a lot of sense. They're tempered. You're father must have been with my great grand father (actually my step GGF) in north africa or vice versa. The only thing he told me about is he was an interpreter, he spoke 4 languages did three beach raids, met the Pope when they stayed in the vatican on the way through Italy, and patton fined him 2 months pay for catching him without his dogtags on. Thats about it. Dealing more with the psychology topic, he would not go on a boat the rest of his life from all the blood in the water on the beach raids. Some pretty serious PTSD which is innoculated against by this topic. I like Grossmans points on the cost of learning to kill. The violent video games and media, its cost on the psychology of our youth and how it can help the soldier learn to kill.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. -Thomas Jefferson


Online Chemsoldier

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 10:31:46 PM »
Unfortunately much of On Killing uses the work of army historian SLA Marshall as source material.  Marshall has been widely criticized by historians for procedural and documentation problems in his work.  While I happen to agree with many of Grossman's conclusions, and believe On Combat in particular was a great book, his use of a questionable source for parts of On Killing hurts its credibility as a scholarly work.

All due respect to Mr. Grossman, I own both of his books and have seen him speak in person.
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Offline Cooter Brown

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2012, 06:21:21 AM »
Unfortunately much of On Killing uses the work of army historian SLA Marshall as source material.  Marshall has been widely criticized by historians for procedural and documentation problems in his work.  While I happen to agree with many of Grossman's conclusions, and believe On Combat in particular was a great book, his use of a questionable source for parts of On Killing hurts its credibility as a scholarly work.

All due respect to Mr. Grossman, I own both of his books and have seen him speak in person.

Agreed; fantastic information, unfortunate sourcing. Also, Grossman is such a hardcore Freudian that I found myself horribly distracted from the main line of his arguments by his repeated, and to my mind gratuitous, hammering on the Thanatos/Eros thing. An interesting and valid perspective and clearly the theoretical framework in which he is formulating his arguments, he could have explained his methodology and theoretical framework in an introductory chapter and then gotten on with his thesis. In the interest of full disclosure, I used to work with a bunch of Freudians and god were they a tiresome and pedantic bunch, so I may be a little over sensitive to that aspect of the book.

All that said, an important work that anyone who goes about armed should read. Most of us aren't near the badasses we think we are; the fact is you never really know if you are willing to use deadly force until you do it.
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Offline Bluegrass2003

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2012, 07:18:09 PM »
Well put you guy's are right on. I'm defiantly at odds with Freud so everytime he'd mention stuff I'd have to take it with a grain of salt and reason my way through the argument. I'd kinda cringe a little. But i have been very satisfied with Grossman's work and philosophy.
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Online FreeLancer

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2012, 09:37:16 PM »
Most of us aren't near the badasses we think we are; the fact is you never really know if you are willing to use deadly force until you do it.

True that!
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Offline joeinwv

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2012, 10:07:19 AM »
Somewhat on topic - go hunting. Watching a deer come in towards you will absolutely generate a big adrenaline dump and once you have an innocent animal in your sites, you make a determination of whether or not to take a life. While many treat it as cavalier and are macho hunters, I will only take an ethical shot at an animal.

While there are not the legal / ethical ramifications as with shooting a person - it does give you some perspective.

Offline Wolfer Nation

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2012, 10:41:04 PM »
I'm new to this site,so this may not be a good post to get to know everyone with. I have often thought about this topic, because killing gets easy over time. After saying that, let me explain. I'm a combat vet, avid meat hunter and a professional trapper by trade. I have harvested thousands of animals over the years and been in some bad scraps with people. I remember shooting a bird with a new BB gun when I was very young. I had no reason to shoot the bird, and killing the bird never entered my mind. But when I held the dead bird in my hands, I felt sick, sorry and so repentive. Since then I have played in the "sand Box" in the middle east, taken a lot of game and trapped (killed) thousands of animals. I know animals and people are different, but I have noticed some things over the years. I have also talked to some close trapper friends of mine and taking the life of an animal comes up time to time.
I can no longer  even remember dispatching an animals a few moments after the fact. I can remember the feeling of seeing the traps set I used has worked, I can remember admiring the animal, I can even remember talking calmly to the coyote or bobcat and letting him calm down before using a 22 pistol. After the fact I can even thank the animal weather for food, fur or both and remaking the set. This "blank" spot is more common than I thought, when I have talked to other trappers about the subject. I remember the thrill of hunting a deer or hog, but i have to force myself to remember the kill. Killing has always been in the process of meat or fur. If i could explain to a coyote not to eat the 200 plus inch breeder deer or sheep, this would suit me fine. i know people with blood lust and it makes no logical sense to me. killing to me is never the goal.
After explaining all that, shooting a MT lion, hog or coyote does not even seem to register any more. I'm just working. Killing has an effect on anyone, no matter how macho that person thinks they are. I have done it so much, that my brain has excepted that it is normal. I do not think about it, it just happens. I worry about soldiers that have 3-6 deployments in war zones. I also have to wonder about what our humanity would be like if things did really get out of control in this country. As close as I can tell, once your brain excepts killing  and it gets used to it, killing gets easy to do. Saying that, if killing has never entered the head of a person, they are in a big disadvantage to a person that has taught himself to kill and is use to the idea. One person will think and hesitate and the other person will not.
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Offline SheepdogSurvival

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2012, 12:31:10 PM »
Good discussion. I having read both on killing and on combat I have to agree with most of the points and observations you guys made on the subject. My experiences in the Military (USMC/USCG) tend to support most of what Lt Col Grossman says in his books. The biggest eye opener for me was understanding what my mind and body are actually doing in a lethal stress situation. For instance it sounds really stupid and weird but after a potentially lethal situation (with no serious injuries/deaths on the friendly side) I tend to be giddy and laugh alot for no apparent reason. I never knew why until I read up on it. Another thing I learned is that everytime I know that I'm about to enter into or are in a dangerous situation I tend to feel like I'm constantly at a crossroads were I need to make a choice to either embrace my body alarm response to increase my gross physical performance or choose to suppress that body alarm response so I can maintain my wits and situational awareness. For me learning not to embrace that body alarm automatically and go 1000mph as hard as I could, but instead to rein it in and be more calm and collected had to be learned and has proved to be a vital part of my personal growth and evolution to becoming better at preforming in dangerous circumstances. Basically you gotta choose when it is right to go 1000mph and when to back it off enough to let your logical mind contribute to the situation.

This subject in my opinion is kinda a catch 22 because there are only a couple of ways to prepare for dangerous circumstances. Conditioning and experience. And since normal people may need/want to prepare for this but don't need or want to go into an unnecessary and dangerous situation to gain experience, and the training to condition you is expensive and difficult to set aside precious time and resources for it makes it kinda difficult to be adequately prepared. You can and should get at least some firearms training to prepare you but it is hard to maintain and truly learn the stress inoculation and mindset portion of the training if you don't practice it and expose yourself to it periodically.

For instance if you have a force and force training scenario and later on an encounter that closely mimics your previous training even if you have not practiced in a long time you may preform excellent because your 'puppy' brain already knows how to react and does so automatically. However if you find yourself in an encounter or situation that does not mimic a learned/trained response and you are not practiced at controlling your body alarm response(your puppy brain) then you will likely have great difficultly responding in the appropriate fashion because the 'puppy' is being allowed to take over and go ape-shit trying to save you while your rational and logical brain is standing by not being used. 

So the moral of this post(besides on combat and on killing being good resources)is for all of you that live normal lives that are outside an occupation that regularly exposes you to danger/stress or if you just want a higher level of preparedness in this area. And like others stated, and I agree you don't know how you will react when it happens to you but you will have more tools and a higher likelihood of reacting appropriately with the right training and proper conditioning. Here are some suggestions you may consider adding as low cost-high return options to increase your preparedness in the area of being prepared for a lethal encounter.

-Read up on the subject, both on killing and on combat are gtg in my opinion
-Attend some quality training, what ever you can afford and take lots of notes. If you read up on the subjects prior to the class so you can get great additional information/opinions from the instructors.
-Do dry practice! So when you actually are training live you can concentrate on controlling the puppy, learning new skills, and keeping your head on a swivel. (I dont have any SIRT gear yet but it sounds like a great tool)
-I really like the Magpul Dynamics training DVDs, great value for your training.
-Shoot realistic humanoid targets
-*** One of the best, most fun, and most affordable ways to prepare you and even your kids is PLAY PAINTBALL!!! I know it sounds kinda off because it's not 'tacticool' enough but speaking from personal experience paintball is an excellent conditioner and is fun and cheap. Just be sure to train the right habits as in practice and teach good target discrimination and muzzle control. Be competitive, challenge yourself, take risks to get your 'puppy' brain and adrenaline riled up and practice balancing your ability to reason and using fearless aggression to destroy your competition.

my 2cents.
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Offline Bluegrass2003

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2012, 02:48:28 PM »
Sheepdog, Your 2 cents must've been minted in 1942 cause they're quite valuable. I couldn't agree more. If I can't get to paintball or some type of simunition training the cheapest way for me to induce stress into my shooting environments is to grab a heart rate monitor and start a ground pound circuit routine and shoot with my heart rate elevated it will give you the opputunity to practice slowing yourself down to get the shot off. I love the Magpul DVD's too btw they're a great resource.

http://guardian-concepts.com/hardcore-marksman-training.html

Here's a link to some of the stress inducers i've done. The next level would of course be the adrenaline of the human on human contact that paintball, simunition or actual combat can provide.

I guess the point of my starting the thread was to see how many of us preppers take this into account? We always talk about the ammo the price the AK vs the AR etc. I think it would be a important show topic for Jack.
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Offline endurance

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2012, 07:11:42 PM »
Man, I just ran across this video on Wimp and knew it had to be a part of this thread.

http://www.wimp.com/germanwoods/

Very powerful.
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Online FreeLancer

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2012, 08:43:45 PM »
Man, I just ran across this video on Wimp and knew it had to be a part of this thread.

Hmm, that is a good one.

Reminded me of this clip from Band of Brothers.
In times of change learners inherit the earth and the learned find themselves equipped for a world that no longer exists.   Eric Hoffer

Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.  Voltaire

Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Offline SheepdogSurvival

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2012, 05:58:33 PM »
Hmm, that is a good one.

Reminded me of this clip from Band of Brothers.

Yeah I always think that scene is pretty representative of how sometimes a certain situation or type of situation can really get into your head and stay.
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
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Offline blademan

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2012, 03:16:30 PM »
I haven't much to contribute to this thread as I have only read part of "On Killing" and was unaware of "On Combat". However, in another life, I knew Lt. Grossman through church. I never finished his book bacuase I didn't agree with some of his assertions and got distracted by something else but found much of what he had to say to be interesting and thought provoking but that was about 10 years ago so I might feel differently if I read it now. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met and I was friends with his two sons who were close to my age and they were both great guys. Thanks for bringing this up, I may have to see in I can find a copy of those and see what I think now.
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Offline Shaunypoo

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2012, 06:46:58 PM »
-Read up on the subject, both on killing and on combat are gtg in my opinion
-Attend some quality training, what ever you can afford and take lots of notes. If you read up on the subjects prior to the class so you can get great additional information/opinions from the instructors.
-Do dry practice! So when you actually are training live you can concentrate on controlling the puppy, learning new skills, and keeping your head on a swivel. (I dont have any SIRT gear yet but it sounds like a great tool)
-I really like the Magpul Dynamics training DVDs, great value for your training.
-Shoot realistic humanoid targets
-*** One of the best, most fun, and most affordable ways to prepare you and even your kids is PLAY PAINTBALL!!! I know it sounds kinda off because it's not 'tacticool' enough but speaking from personal experience paintball is an excellent conditioner and is fun and cheap. Just be sure to train the right habits as in practice and teach good target discrimination and muzzle control. Be competitive, challenge yourself, take risks to get your 'puppy' brain and adrenaline riled up and practice balancing your ability to reason and using fearless aggression to destroy your competition.

All of that is great advice, but the only modification that I would like to recommend is replacing paintball with simunition.  Having done both, paintball is a ton of fun but is really great for playing Rambo.  Some of the kids we play paintball with bunker down and play a game of attrition.  Really not that fun.  But us older guys are always moving and aren't afraid to get hit.  Not really good training for a live fire drill. 

Simunition on the the other hand has some more realism and is still fun with not a lot of negative reinforcement, but the realism tends to help me maintain more of a "training" focus versus the more "fun" focus of paintball.

Otherwise this topic is one that I have no personal experience with but that I want to do everything in my power to prepare for.  Some great advice and I do need to read the books mentioned.
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Offline Bennington1776

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2012, 07:26:15 PM »
I had the privilege of meeting Ret. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman after reading on Killing and On Combat.  He is a very knowledgeable and patient speaker.  If you ever have the opportunity to see him speak it will be well worth it.  With my profession I have experienced tunnel vision, auditory exclusion and an adrenaline dump that caused an uncontrollable muscular spasm that lasted about twenty minutes.  Had I not read these books I would have thought something was wrong with me.  Knowing ahead of time that these reactions were normal helped with processing and recovering from a potential fatale encounter.

Offline Veritas

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Re: On Killing
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2013, 11:29:46 AM »
I have read both of Col. Grossman's books and enjoyed them both. On killing is much more clinical and dry IMO. On Combat is the much better read if I had to pick one or the other.
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