VERY interesting book on combat
By Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, covering both police and military combat. Available here.
I've read it twice, and it is excellent. Most people don't understand that fear and combat have been the subject of much serious study. The earlier work was probably du Pict, who was killed in the Franco-Prussian War, and who based his studies on interviews of Napoleon I's veterans. Then there was Lord Moran's "On Fear," based on his observations as a battlefield doctor in WWI. S. L. A. Marshall's study of WWII and Korean firefights (where he found interestingly that only 15% of men fired if they saw the enemy, and which led to revisions in training away from bullseye targets, to get soldiers conditioned to fire at enemy rather than round bulls). Then there are quite a few more recent studies.
This work essentially integrates all that data, and adds quite a few original insights, and then lays out practical principles of training. I can't do it justice in a blog post, but will try in extended remarks below.
Grossman's book covers both military and police operations; I think the latter is where it best fits a void. For police it has practical combat tips, but also things such as (1) how to deal with it if you have to shoot someone; (2) how you should help a buddy deal with that if he has to shoot; (3) suggestions for police departments, such as minimizing overtime (sleepy men make mistakes).
He has some interesting data, based on work by Jeff Cooper, as modified by medical knowledge, on human functioning under stress. Basically, as your heartbeat rises you lose fine motor skills but gain on gross motor skills (which were historically more important to survival). But at certain points you start to lose judgment, too. Training can enable a person to push that envelope and retain judgment where others would lose it.
Practical and detailed data on effects of stress on a combatant. Not just tunnel vision. The discovery that in dim lighting (unless you are trained for this) you fire at sound rather than sight. This is instinct rather than judgment. In a dark room, hear a shot and see a muzzle flash, you fire at the sound (meaning at a general area) rather than the flash ( a precise target). We instinctively depend on our ears in the dark. Training can overcome this.
Studies of other effects: why muzzle blast is not noticed by hunters or people in a gun fight. How hearing changes under those conditions, how time slows down. Necessities of training, because a person will drop back to their instincts (interesting case of an officer who constantly trained at disarming people by hand. Have someone hold a gun on him, and take it away from them, hand it back and repeat. He came face to face with an armed criminal, snatched the gun away from him -- and handed it back. He survived the experience luckily.
The necessity of training with paint pellet guns (not paintball) to become conditioned to firing and being fired on.
An interesting section on violent video and video games. What he suggests is -- if an object of training is to condition a person to fire on other people, what violent and increasingly realistic games do is to give that condtioning to everyone, including murderers. It also teaches them marksmanship. If you look at mass schoolyard killers, they loved these games, but never touched martial arts, competitive shooting, Jr ROTC, hunting, or paintball. In short, they were obsessed with violent games and TV but would not participate in any activity that required discipline or might risk getting hurt. The violent games give them a way to get training without submitting to discipline. And some of the killers behave uncannily as if they were in a video game: the object is to run up the point score with as many kills as they can as fast as they can.
This is one interesting, and thick (366 pgs) book. I HIGHLY recommend it.