Reaction time deficit


“Herein lies the concealed carry holder’s dilemma. If you wait for the “in fear of your life” threshold to be met, you are at least 3–5 seconds behind the curve before you can even begin to react.

At this point, if it’s still up to me, I’m not waiting for the threshold.
Avoidance as much as possible.

Three to 5 seconds is an eternity when someone is trying to hurt you. Okay, so my slow mind finally recognizes a threat exists. Now, I must determine what action to take

I wish there was an illustration because it escalated quickly to someone is trying to hurt you. Exaggerated, maybe?
Again, avoidance if possible.


True surprise attack is a minority of cases. I think, usually defenders have a surplus of time, but deficit of attention and decisive thinking.


While many attacks may have signs and signals that they are about to occur I think the vast majority of victims are completely surprised. Both because there are so many people not bothering to scan their surroundings for threats and because the attackers are usually seeking victims who are either generally unaware or momentarily distracted.

In the several cases where I identified a positive threat directed at myself or my family I definitely did not feel that I had a surplus of time even though I identified the threats as soon as they identified me as a potential target.


This has saved my bacon on multiple occasions. When you identify a potential threat and move away or let it know that you have observed it you can often avoid the whole confrontation before it starts.

But I do think it is unreasonable to assume anyone can recognize and avoid all threats before they start to take action. Even the most observant people will occasionally be taken off guard. My intuition and observational skills are pretty good but I have been surprised on more than a few occasions. In those cases the reaction deficit is a big deal.

This author’s higher ranging numbers seem excessive to me for people who have mentally and physically trained on how to react to a variety of scenarios. But I could see those numbers being more accurate for those who never consider they could be victims and have not bothered to think how they would respond. Or even those who have done that but not taken the time to do mental and physical practice reps for these scenarios. In that case instead of consciously and/or subconsciously responding from a list of already practiced options they have to recognize situations they’ve never considered or practiced before and create responses from scratch under stress. This definitely increases the probability of freezing as well as fighting or fleeing ineffectively.

Even incredibly well trained and practiced people have to deal with a reaction deficit when they are unable to act first to avoid a potential threat. I think it takes anywhere from 0.3 seconds to 1 or even more seconds for a person’s eyes and brain to observe and interpret their surroundings. Then however long their brain needs to identify what it is seeing is a threat and decide how to react plus another 0.3 or so seconds to send that signal to your muscles just to get them to start taking action.

This is why attackers who suddenly decide to give up get shot in the back. A defender can fire several rounds before they can observe and determine the threat might be over and send the signal to their trigger finger to stop firing. That is not the defenders fault. They made the decision to fire those shots when the attacker was presenting an imminent threat. There is a lag while those decisions are being turned into actions and another lag to get those actions to stop.

Even if someone has a blazing fast draw and super fast visual and mental identification and decision skills it is likely to take at least 2 seconds to respond to someone who suddenly draws a weapon or takes some other violent action. Likely noticeably more in complex situations. A lot of bad things can happen in 2 seconds. So avoidance whenever possible is key.


There is no remedy, if someone chooses not to see/hear their surroundings, with the help of technology.


When we walk the streets “we” the trained yellow/orange guys, are supposedly identifying threats in real time. So the element of surprise can or at least should be minimized but certainly not eliminated. The idea that we see respond/react to every threat all of the time without fail seems a bit extreme. I’d like to identify them all but I’ll openly admit, there are time where I have thought “Where in the hell did he come from?” or “How did they get that close?”. There is no perfect situational awareness, especially when we’re dealing with thugs that actually practice their craft and are really good at stealth and surprise.