Shooting Cold. Fighting Cold.
No, fighting cold is not about being mugged in Alaska or just a concern for the 10th Mountain Division. It is a term thrown around here and there in the gun training business, but also relates the hand, stick and knife world too. It should be a major concern for all, because generically – it’s really about the ambush, the surprise attack. And you must respond – cold.
Usually you hear the term with snipers or hunters. Folks who have to suddenly shoot a long gun from a distance. And from a clean barrel. Once in a while you will hear of a “one-shot” competition, “Participants will be allotted a single shot, cold-bore (unfired rifle) @ 1000 yards. (30 Caliber & under) Time & hit determines the winner.” They have those things because, they are challenging. The sin weighs heavy with that icy-cold rifle, but what of the shooter?
There’s also an important concept of “cold bore shooters.” I guess you could remove the word “bore.” Cold shooters. I think in terms of training and then real life ambushes, there might be a nickname, “Frigid Bore Shooting,” or “frigid shooting.” Here’s what I mean.
Chilly? Cold? Frigid?
After all, who wants to shoot cold in competitions for scores, trophies, money and bragging rights? Who doesn’t want to take a few warm up shots? I know I often like to do a few dry-fires before live-fires. I use to participate in some police shooting competitions and they were often complicated paths, chores and obstacles involved. You had to be briefed on your routes and goals, and this would include a “walk-thru,” or a dry-run,” or even a live-fire run before the official run. Same with police training courses and qualifications. And then, sometimes not.
How cold is it, though? Completely frigid? Cold? Or chilly? They call it “cold shooting,” or reverse it “shooting cold,” and it kinda’ is, in a way. Sadly, oddly, some of the best shooters I know, don’t do as spectacular in their first set, as they wish, and this is one reason why they keep score of this process over time. And often they do about as good as I can when we all start, and I do not shoot as much as they do, nor do I labor and belabor and ponder the art, science, love and dedication to trigger pressure and bulls eye, pistol, target shooting as they do.
They admit, shooting cold is challenging for most. And, it frustrates some. Then they very quickly get much, much better after a “warm-up,” quickly surpassing ol’ mediocre me. (And yes, yes, we all know some special gun gods and rockstars with so much time and grade they do awesome right out of the gate. Pew-pew! More on that later).
The subject of cold shooting comes up on the web once in a while. Some regular, range shooters I know and hear about will always keep score of their first set, their “cold shooting” when they first step up to the firing line and shoot a set. A virgin experience of the day?
Was it completely virgin? They want to keep track of how well they do after they,
– set the time and date, pack their gear at home,
– drive to the range,
– get out of the cars,
– get some gear from the “back” of the car,
– maybe sip some coffee,
– chat with the “range masters,”
– carry their gear to the spot/stand/table/shelf,
– shuffle up to the target and paste up a new,
– wander back to the shooting line and,
– (If at a class? Listen to the instructors intro, lecture and in some cases, ancillary yammering…)
So a cold shooter on gun day is not frozen solid. The mind and body are cooking just a little to go shoot. A hunter has worked on the trip, sometimes insanely so, before departure, going over equipment and plans in his or her head. Neither are like a… say… an ambush attack after you walk out of Dairy Queen with a ice cream cone in your hand. Man, that’s COLD!
Shooting cold? So, What about fighting cold? Or, working out cold? How cold is this cold, though? Is this “zero to sixty?” As the old “miles per hour,” car speed quote suggests? Was there any of this organizing, any subliminal preparation going on this range day, kike in the list above?
I became fascinated by this idea of shooting cold and of course, fighting cold too. What does it mean in the bigger picture? How does it relate to self-defense, in crime and in war? You know, all the “who, what, where, when how and why” questions I like to kick around.
Subliminal preparation? Years ago it was common knowledge in the fitness field that if you packed for the gym and drove to the gym about the same times, your body/brain knew the routine as we are such creatures of habit. You drive, park, walk the lot, climb the stairs. All the while your body/brain is saying, “Okay, okay, we’re coming. We’re getting ready.” Once in the gym, is this moment a true zero? Or, maybe 10? 10 to 60? Last month I parked on my gym’s parking lot and saw another guy, a bit older than me, park too. He got out of his car, got a gym bag and stopped. He took his ball cap off, looked to the sky and said a prayer. I spied his lips moving. Then he donned his cap and made for the gym doors. He really prepped for a work-out! What did he say I wonder?
“Dear Lord, let me crush everything?”
“Dear Lord, don’t let me die of a heart attack this morning?”
What would your prayer be? Have one? Need one?
Routines. Preparation. Getting ready. Not always short term. We have all gone to a shooting class, or a martial tournament that we anticipated and our inner engine was revved up more than just the morning before. Even the night before. Even longer than that. I once took a shooting course, to prepare for the tougher shooting course the following weekend.
How powerful can mental preparation be? Surely you have heard of, or read the studies about how positive this mental approach can be. Need I repeat them here (sigh)? It is important. I recall even back in 1972, in Ed Parker Kenpo Karate, teachers and students gossiping about another martial arts system and how it sequestered students in dark rooms assigned to imagine the moves over and over in their heads as a basis of performance. 1972! None of us could fathom this being successful. How? HOW! Yet…yet those studies! So, it somehow worked for some. So, does the simple act of going to the range to shoot on gun day, mentally prepare you for the target/bulls eye process? I think so. A bit. It is one step back from dry-firing if you think about it.
Just getting dressed for work, be it a guard, or police, lawyer, truck driver, or an accountant starts churning up, the work mind, whether you realize it or not.
Frigid? How about being asleep?
It’s especially cold-cold when you consider the old attempts at testing the responses of police when THEY WERE ASLEEP! Yes. Remember those tests decades ago? They would bed down a series of state troopers and tell them, just before “nighty-night” that they would be harshly awakened and they would have to wake up, grab a nearby gun and shoot a target near the foot of their bed. The results were not so good. Often bad in fact. Another similar sleep-study let tested police wake up on their own and they had to remember this assigned chore. As I recall they were slow to remember the assigned chore, but most did grab and shoot…and also not too well, but they did remember. Where does this information fit in the “chilly, cold and frigid” charts of our considerations? Frankly, I don’t exactly know, but it’s interesting.
When you actual started doing physical stuff on your jogging route, at the gym, at the “dogo,” or the shooting range, you are not really, fully working out “cold.” The same is true with getting your uniform on for work, or slinging your vest on in the military. You are not cold-cold (unless of course, much time passes between the prep and action and you “chill out,” which is a whole other set of “syndromes,” we talk about in other essays). And the same mental prep is true of the drive to shooting range, the lugging of gear, the chat with the range master…it’s gun, gun, gun. The inner gears are working. This type of first round scoring, cold shooting is not as frigid as you think. Not like a zero-to-sixty ambush FRIGID. (Think for a moment about all the mental and physical prep before SWAT arrives on a scene.)
The damn ambush.
My old catch phrase is – “life is either an interview or an ambush” that people hear each week. I hope they never tire of it. The greatest armies in the world have been defeated by ambush. The simple element of surprise. The greatest fighters too. I get a kick out the internet comments when location cameras around the world catch a criminal jumping a victim in the most “ambushy” types of locales.
It does come back to the element of surprise and the ambush, doesn’t it. There is always a wise-guy, arm-chair-est that comments “that person was not alert!” and the sage advice, “you must always stay alert.” As if he, she, or we all, walk around with enough cortisol scarring our veins and heart, to be scanning EVERYWHERE, ALL the time. We always hear the expression “you don’t pick the time and place of your attack, the enemy does,” so as everyday walk-around folks, or someone on common police and military patrol, you will probably, suddenly be fighting chilly or cold. It is certainly a good idea to worry about and consider “cold-fighting” and “cold shooting,” in your training, even though we simply cannot really replicate that “zero-to-sixty” frigid to red hot, encounter. I don’t think we need a chart the size of a doorway like the OODA Loop demo diagrams have become, to explain this simple “Boo/Surprise” idea. The element of surprise and reaction to it, can be as simple as a foot fake in football, rugby or soccer.
There are many startle responses to the sudden boo/jump, (one modern textbook counted 30 responses) not just one or two, hands-up, as you might have been sold to believe by martial and gun marketeers. Let’s hope you don’t fall right down or feint, which are two of the startle responses! You instead, have to deal with the attack.
The element of surprise has defeated the greatest paramilitaries of the world. I first learned about all this Ambush/Counter- Ambush in the U.S. Army in 1973, and it was a big deal. They trained us in what was called back then, “Immediate Action Drills,” things done so many times that you may well jump right into that response groove when ambushed. Hopefully. It is reinforced by many, many repetitions. Here are some of my old Army manual notes (minus the small and large unit suggestions they offer) on the ambush drill idea that relates to citizens and police.
Immediate Action Drills:
“Immediate action drills are drills designed to provide swift and positive reaction. They are simple courses of action, dome immediately. It is not feasible to attempt to design an immediate action drill to cover every possible situation. It is better to know few immediate action drills for a limited number of situations that usually occur (in a combat area.)
1- Can be designed, developed, and used by anyone, (any unit)
2- Are designed and developed as needed for the anticipated combat situation.
3- When contact/ambush, is at very close range and maneuver may restricted.”
This does work often, and then…sometimes not, because you might be too frigid, or too cold to respond well. Just some notes. As I have stated many times before, when students approach you with concerns about “how-fast” and “will-they” react properly to an sudden attack, you can honestly shove them back on the floor and tell them to do more reps, and explain why. “Fortune favors the prepared.” Build confidence, yes, but darn it, cold is still cold, and frigid is still worse.
But, back to the shooting guns cold subject. One of my friends said after reading this when first published in 2011 , “Hock is right about this. I suck shooting cold, but that is how I am going to shoot – cold – stepping out of the Waffle House and suddenly in trouble, on any given night.” Of course, through training you might achieve that “gun god” status where you can shoot cold on call? Do you really have the time, the money, the lifestyle and the dedication to be such a god? I’ll confess to you right now. I don’t.
So, it’s hard to replicate shooting cold or fighting cold in training, because you are never completely cold-cold when you plan, dress and travel and lug-in and gear-up for training. Maybe they should call a real ambush response “Shooting Frigid?” or “Fighting Frigid” instead of just being cold? Frigid bore shooting?
Am I getting warm, yet? HA!
For more essays like this, read…
Get the paperback
Get the Ebook