The Guardian Broadcast
"Providing Concealed Carry & Armed Self-Defense Wisdom."
A podcast by Patrick Kilchermann, founder of the Concealed Carry University.
"Adrenaline: The Silent Killer (and How to Eliminate It!)"
This week, we engage in a little CCU myth-busting. Specifically, Pat addresses some of the misconceptions and challenges regarding one of the bodys most powerful drugs - adrenaline.
Listen using the audio player above OR read the text transcript of this podcast below.
Note: 100% accuracy on text transcription is not guaranteed.
Hello, and welcome to the Guardian Broadcast. I’m your host, and founder of the Concealed Carry University, Patrick Kilchermann.
This week, I want to discuss adrenaline. I call it, Adrenaline: The Silent Killer. Why do I call it the silent killer? Simple. Because, while adrenaline may help us in some situations, it is far less helpful – even massively detrimental - in the majority of situations when we actually experience an adrenaline dump.
The fact is, we humans live in a world that we’ve twisted and conformed to nearly all of our preferences. Technology and tools surround us, now – not trees and rocks and wild animals. Technology and tools require finesse. They require a clear head.
Now, adrenaline is STILL great for some things. For example, it’s great for allowing you to trample woman and children on your way out of a burning movie theater. It allows you to forget all the words to the speech you were about to give. It allows your hands and voice to shake and tremble with comical vigor when you’re dealing with a threatening individual or law enforcement. It allows you to stand and watch with planted feet and arms that won’t respond to your commands for second after precious second as men with masks kick in your door… you catch my drift?
So: I believe it’s better to think of adrenaline as something that is a curse. Something that, like emotions within decision-making, we’d all be much better off if we could just shut off and not suffer its effects anymore. As guardians who carry guns in preparation for having to use them in violent combat, which should be everyone listening to this broadcast, we need the OPPOSITE of adrenaline. We need to be able to use our fine motor skills in even the most stressful situations. We need to be able to think clearly with our rational brains. We need to prevent our bodies from ramping up, along with the increasing tension and danger within a given situation. And we need to be able to manage a very ugly situation after it has played out – continuing to think and speak and act confidently and authoritatively.
Well: we cannot completely shut off adrenaline dumps; that’s biology. But what we CAN do is treat it like any other drug. A drug that we’re given against our will at the times in our lives when it will hurt us most. We need to treat adrenaline like any other drug, and we need to take control of it.
Well, how do we do that? Three ways:
First, we work toward limiting the number of situations in which we receive adrenaline dumps.
Second, we work toward limiting the amount of adrenaline we receive when we DO get a dump.
And Third, we work toward inoculating our body to the effects of adrenaline by playing the part of a recreational drug user and develop a tolerance to the stuff.
So, Part 1: Let’s work toward limiting the number of situations in which we receive adrenaline dumps.
For this, we should consider adrenaline to be a drug that our bodies release when we are about to encounter, or are already encountering something that both alarms us and something we haven’t experienced before. That’s not exact science, but it’s close to the physiological reality. If we want to be able to undergo an activity, we need to expose ourselves to that activity enough times and with enough depth so that we are no longer alarmed by it and so that we feel that this activity is old news.
I remember the first time I took a car over 100mph. My hands were shaking by the end of it! But these days, I see 160mph regularly, and take turns at 140. Without using breaks, you find that line where all four racing tires are squealing from the forces trying to tear you off the curb, and where a little more throttle causes you to understeer, and a little less throttle causes you to oversteer. If you do these things enough times, it doesn’t bother you a bit, and there are people out there who push race cars on tracks a lot harder than that. It stops bothering you because, again, it’s no longer new to you. Your mind and body have been there, and they both know that it’s not a big deal. You survived last time, and you’ll probably survive this time. No adrenaline needed; or at least, a lot less adrenaline needed.
And so the lesson here is: whatever situations we do NOT want to suffer the effects of adrenaline within, we need to work on exposing our minds and bodies to in advance. Begin slow. Let your body show you its natural limit. If taking turns on a track at 50mph makes you shake, begin there. If going to a public range and shooting alongside other people stresses you out, begin there. And slowly work your way up until you’re at the peak of what sort of exposure is possible for you. Because I promise you: if you can get to the point where you’re shooting smoothly and steadily in front of a lot of people who are watching you, you WILL perform better in a violent situation. These are good things to practice.
Part 2: we work toward limiting the amount of adrenaline we receive when we DO get a dump. The main idea here is that while there’s a lot we can do in part 1, we can never expose ourselves to EVERY situation ahead of time. For example, as healthy as it is for soldiers in training to experience live rounds snapping overhead, it’s never going to be quite the same as having someone actually shooting real bullets at you and trying to kill you. Driving around a racetrack is not the same as having to swerve through a big car accident on the freeway. And shooting competitively or even doing Simunition force-on-force isn’t the same as fighting for your life with your handgun. However: by exposing ourselves to as many components as possible of the dangerous realities that we want to prepare for, we must be confident that we ARE limiting the amount of adrenaline we’ll experience in these lethal realities.
If you’ve watched enough car-wreck videos to predict and handle the sight of a car shredding on impact with another car, you’ll be less surprised when you see it with your own eyes on the road. If you’ve thrown your car around tight turns and have learned the way it behaves under extreme forces, then at least that aspect of a traumatic car maneuver won’t alarm you. The same goes for surviving violent combat. If you’ve learned to easily give speeches to large groups and to perform in front of spectators with your handgun, then there are some potentially very stressful components of waging defensive combat that won’t affect you in that moment. And if you’ve practiced any martial art where you’ve had to learn to face directly an aggressive, intimidating, and even angry opponent – then there’s another series of elements that you’ll be less reactive to.
And so, we should keep that in mind. Even if we can’t experience something directly, like a deadly gunfight, we CAN at least isolate many components to that experience, and work on exposing ourselves to the most visceral and real and deep recreations of those components as possible. As Guardians, this means becoming proficient with our handguns, using them in front of people when time and social pressure are constraints, watching enough gunfights to develop an intuitive understanding of how violence works, and trying to expose ourselves to as much aggression in our faces as possible.
And lastly, Part 3, we come to: working toward inoculating our bodies to the effects of adrenaline, by playing the part of a recreational drug user and develop a tolerance to the stuff. This is actually the easiest part, because it’s the least specific. This point is a nod to the reality that ANY time you experience adrenaline, the more your body and mind are gradually getting used to it; building up a physical tolerance and a psychological tolerance.
Now, the idea of a physical tolerance to adrenaline is not known very clearly to science. Nobody knows how long this tolerance lasts for, but because the effects of an adrenaline dump generally last only 5-6 minutes, it’s thought that the physical tolerance may last only for a few weeks. However, there’s a psychological tolerance that builds up, and this lasts much, much longer. In fact, I believe the cumulative psychological tolerance to adrenaline may last decades. And this means: any time we engage in an activity where adrenaline is released, we are doing ourselves a favor. We are getting comfortable operating within that heightened state of adrenaline, and we are becoming more effective as individuals and as guardians.
And so you have my three-point plan for combating Adrenaline: The Silent Killer.
Now please keep in mind, the 3 SECONDS FROM NOW series is our strategic attempt to expose you to as many of these adrenaline-inducing components of a gunfight as possible, ahead of time. Through this program and the coached, guided exposure to self-defensive violence that it walks you through, our aim is to give you what is called combat wisdom: an intuitive understanding of how violence works, what it looks like, and how it plays out. It’s also designed to give you the practice strategies to use at the range so that this combat wisdom becomes real body knowledge. We want your first defensive gunfight to seem like your 50th. Remember: you’re only going to get one. Don’t screw it up. Be prepared. Being prepared for a gunfight makes you a better person, and so we can’t miss these opportunities to develop and refine ourselves. In that light, I hope you give either or both volumes of 3 SECONDS FROM NOW a try.