Fog of War

By Kellene Bishop

The term “fog of war” is heard frequently amidst the fighting terrain of our soldiers.  In the middle of a shoot out between our forces and enemy combatants, time seems to warp, speed up, and just plain stop, depending on which soldier you speak with.  This phenomenon is a result of the mind assimilating all that is going on around them at the time of a high adrenaline state.  This altered state doesn’t just occur on the battlefield however.  Fog of war will affect us any time that we are threatened or surprised.

Tunnel Vision photo c/o

Tunnel Vision photo c/o

When fog of war affects us, it automatically brings with it an uncertainty regarding our own capabilities.  It also fogs our perception of the intent of any adversary or their capability during an engagement of self-defense.  We tend to have tunnel vision which inhibits our ability to see the whole picture.  How many times have you heard a witness say, “time just seemed to stand still,” or “I didn’t see anything else except that gun”?  This is the result of the alteration of perceptions such as time and depth.  In fog of war we also lose our fine motor skills in such a scenario and we certainly have an alteration of our sensory perception.  Another perfect example: how many times have you heard of a person being shot or severely wounded, but not aware of it until after the climax of the battle was finished?  Considering that all of this is bound to happen when you need to save your life, it doesn’t sound like the ideal time to be handling a firearm, right?  The point of this article is to be sure you’re aware that just because you have a firearm doesn’t mean it’s all you need for protection when you hear glass breaking in the middle of the night.

Most gun owners do not take into account the fog of war effect.  They presume that since they have a firearm and have practiced with it a couple of times that they are safe.  While some may call me “paranoid” because I have rehearsed again and again what I will do when walking to my car in the event of an attack, I try to explain to them that I’m training my mind to act in a specific manner rather than jumping back, swearing, and losing my senses.  I am well aware that shooting at the range, indoors or outdoors, no matter how realistic the shooting exercise is, still does not make me an expert in battling a real attack.  Only my mental and physical practice can appropriately overcome my initial instincts of fear and flight.

Practice, practice, practice!  Photo c/o

Practice, practice, practice! Photo c/o

The only way to successfully overcome the effects of the fog of war is to practice.  Practice mentally AND physically.  Don’t rely on having to remember specific actions.  Practice with your firearm so much that it’s completely second nature.  Practice so much that you know the feel of that firearm as well as the outline of your child’s hand.  Mentally rehearse multiple scenarios in your home so that when it happens, your brain has already embraced the sequence of actions that you will take.  Walk through those actions.  Practice, practice, practice.  Particularly under fog of war and the stress of an attack, you must have the mindset to defend your life—even if that means the loss of the perpetrators life—the ability to deliver the target shots necessary to STOP your attacker, and to do so in a manner in which you will not be emotionally altered for the rest of your life.  This only comes with education and practice.  So, will you schedule the time it takes to defend your life, or will you just hope that it just happens?

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.