Condition Three: Is It For You?
by Joe Nizzari
Condition Three is a mode of carry that I have found to be the carry method of choice for some armed citizens. The condition three mode consists of a full magazine in the gun, an empty chamber, and the hammer resting in the full forward, or, half-cock position. When I ask why this is the choice for defensive carry, I get mixed responses to say the least.
One commonality that runs through all the responses is, that it makes the individual "feel" safer. I can understand wanting an extra layer of security. But is that layer conducive to a quick defense against an armed attack where seconds matter?
There are certain aspects
of training and physical/mental attributes that must be discussed before
deciding to carry your defensive handgun in the Condition Three mode.
When we train we are conditioning the subconscious side of the brain to default to whatever action we need to employ at the time. It's like putting a brand new VCR tape in the video machine and pressing play. The result? Snow and static. Insert a pre-recorded tape and do the same and the tape will default to whatever has been recorded on it. The human brain is no different in this regard.
1. The conscious side of
the brain must recognize the threat being perpetrated against it.
ACTION vs. REACTION
The attacker's brain can be "short circuited" by engaging in a type of movement or action that he does not expect. For example: If there is no cover to utilize (empty parking lot, a field, a patch of desert, a beach etc.), the armed citizen can buy valuable time by simply kneeling, drawing and triple-tapping. The attacker will not expect the citizen to kneel, and that action will become the action which the aggressor has to react. By the time he reacts, he has been hit several times. The rule of three always applies! Three rounds, three yards, in under three seconds.
To break "Tunnel Vision" the armed citizen must execute a "quick check" over each shoulder and then back to the target. Left, right, target. Note: when the "quick check" is executed the hand(s) of the shooter must be lowered as to clear his visual path to the target. Auditory Exclusion can be broken by verbally warning/commanding the aggressor to retreat and drop his weapon. This should be done if at all possible before, and leading up to, any shots being fired.
There has been some study done on these two physical responses as to whether the vision and the hearing remain "on" but the conscious side of the brain doesn't allow them to be recognized to their full potential. This could be the reason why different individuals who are involved in or witness traumatic events almost invariably do not perceive the same things even though they are actually seeing and hearing the same things occur.
Some police officers who are involved in shootings cannot always give an accurate, conscious narrative directly after, or even days after, the shooting. But when they are put under hypnosis they are able to recall as much as 95% of the details. This suggests that under stress the subconscious side of the brain is doing all of the reacting and most of the memory absorption.
Under adrenaline induced
stress the "fine" motor skill is the first to be lost.
For examples of lost motor skills: When a police officer is involved in a shooting he is able to point and shoot his gun (gross motor skill), but he may not be able to effectively aim (complex motor skill), and he may experience severe difficulty with trigger finger placement (fine motor skill). This may be why only 20% of all rounds fired from a police officer's duty weapon contact the target.
While visualization can be practiced at any time, the optimum time is when laying in bed as you are falling asleep. This is when the conscious and subconscious sides of the brain are closest to each other. You can run through different scenarios in your mind, and "drill" the subconscious side of the brain to default to that action if and when you ever need it.
PROS/CONS OF THE
"CONDITION THREE" CARRY MODE
If this occurs and the trigger is pressed nothing will happen. Although the shooter may diligently train to rack a round upon the draw and work at clearing common malfunctions such as a stove pipe, failure to feed, or double feed, he will be fiddling with the safety while burning valuable survival time. Remember, the first motor skill to go under stress is the fine motor skill, and it requires fine motor skills to engage/disengage a safety!
With all of the variables involved, and different attack scenarios that can be perpetrated against law-abiding citizens, we need every edge we can get. The average person who carries a handgun for self-defense needs to know what is involved when stress and firearms come together.
If you choose to carry "Condition One" (full mag, loaded chamber, cocked and locked), "Condition Two" (full mag, loaded chamber, hammer down), or "Condition Three" (full mag, empty chamber, hammer down), please, train, train, train! Get with a qualified instructor with a solid background in firearms and tactics and visit with him often. There is no article written by a gun guru, no how-to video tape, no book that you can buy at a gun show that can take the place of actual training with a qualified instructor.
You must master your marksmanship skills, then master your movements, and ultimately master your speed (remember NEVER sacrifice accuracy for speed!). Also, staying alert, being aware of your surroundings, and knowing how to avoid a violent confrontation in the first place will make you the winner of a gunfight every time.
Joe Nizzari is a certified Law Enforcement and Civilian small arms instructor, and Lead Instructor of Line of Fire, LLC, Las Vegas, Nevada.