Amazing things happen when preparation meets opportunity. The issue we have is the lack of preparation in professionals as well as private citizens. Oh, they may be well prepared to run a stage imitating an overweight John Wick, but not for what we are talking about. Bruce Lee, in the landmark movie Enter The Dragon (look it up kiddies and watch it), after one of his adversaries broke a board, said simply yet eloquently, "Boards don't hit back". In our study we might rephrase as, "cardboard targets and steel plates...don't shoot back".
There is a natural and momentary hesitation that takes place the first time you look over your sights and see another breathing, living human being rather than a training target. It is almost as if the brain is questioning the reality of the very foreign image it is seeing. And then the doubts come in.
"Am I correct, and I legal, will I get into trouble, will I be arrested, fired, sued, should I shoot, should I...."
At some point along this internal dialog the bad guy realizes you are there, and having none of the personal issues you have, points his weapon and shoots you dead. Its not the same as shooting a piece of paper if all you see is a piece of paper. We see the results of that all the time now. Good guys that should have easily killed the bad guys, shot dead. Clearly the bad guys were not more skilled, more trained, or better equipped. But the difficulty in closing the mental gap and turning thought into action must be trained and exercised, lest we hesitate at the moment of truth.
So how do we avoid that deadly hesitation?
Answer this - who are you and why are you there? Simple questions but they must be answered so that you can form a sort of policy statement when faced with a deadly threat? If there is doubt, please read the article on self-image again to clarify matters.
Answer this - is your training overly range focused? Are you overly fixated on draw speed and split times and the rules and the scores and the games? Maybe restructuring most of this to focus on fighting rather than merely shooting at targets. See the Training The Gunfighter Skills piece. Most of your time should be spent in programming habituated movements and manipulations in dry fire work and movement drills. And when you do go to the range, your drills should be divided between preemptive marksmanship based work, and reactive dynamic movement work. And you must get your mind right that this is combat and that people will die, not that it is a technical exercise against time in accord with the rules.
Every moment you spend with a weapon or training with a weapon should be a reminder of why that weapon is in your hands...in essence why it is a part of you. In real life when the weapon is drawn, people will probably die. Get your mind right so the one that dies is not you.
Oh, and the "targets" you use on the range should have human faces.