Skip to comments.Reactions Faster than Actions, Study Finds
Posted on 02/02/2010 9:55:39 PM PST by neverdem
The mythology of the Wild West suggests the person who draws first in a gunfight is usually the first to get shot, and new findings now hint at a reason why this might happen.
Inspired by Hollywood cowboy movies, Nobel Laureate atomic physicist Niels Bohr once conjectured why, during a duel, the gunslinger who drew first was the one to get shot the intentional act of drawing and shooting is slower to carry out than the "quick draw" response to another gun. Anecdotal reports note that Bohr tested his idea using toy pistols, with the reactive Bohr apparently winning every duel against his colleague George Gamow.
Now an international team of scientists has found a basis for this idea people move faster when reacting than when initiating the same movement. But the ultimate outcome is not so simple.
Shootout at the O.K. Lab
In laboratory versions of gunfights, the researchers had volunteers each press a row of three buttons. When they faced off against other "gunslingers" either people directly across from them, people in another room, or computers the volunteers on average were roughly 10 percent faster when they reacted than when they initiated "shootouts," a boost in speed of roughly 21 milliseconds they dubbed "the reactive advantage."
Still, while participants moved faster when reacting than initiating, reactors only rarely beat initiators. The extra milliseconds it took volunteers to respond to the movements of their opponents greatly offset any benefit the reactive advantage granted.
"As a general strategy for survival, having this system in our brains that gives us quick-and-dirty responses to the environment seems pretty useful," said researcher Andrew Welchman, an experimental psychologist at University of Birmingham in Britain...
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
Niels Bohr had some funky hobbies.
Why does it take a bookworm to state what’s already been known since the days of the old west?
Because if a scientist doesn’t prove it, it isn’t true. /sarc
My mule don’t like you laughin’. He thinks you’re laughing at him. Now if ya’ll just apologise...
My mistake. Four coffins.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
But there’s reaction time, too (thought lag): about 2/5 of second in faster, healthy average folks, before they move. Fighters react more quickly, not because of faster reaction time (thought) but because they perceive what is called in the fighting sports, “telegraphing” by their opponents (subtle movements of other parts of the body preceding strikes). The same could apply to a “gunslinger,” but that would follow pointing for fire at practical near targets (7 yards, give and take) for self-defense rather than aiming—a kind of practice done by only a few of times past. ...take many more rounds of range work than nearly all today would take the time to do. ...and, of course, techniques taught by a few of the old masters.
And yeah, I like to work with single action on my range. ...very interesting and enlightening but time-consuming hobby, with much handloading study and experience part of the game.
Death-Watch C12 24 March 1980 Chris Boucher Gerald Blake
The planets Teal and Vandor are locked in an endless war whose battles are decided periodically by representatives from both worlds fighting to the death in one-on-one combat. Their battleground is a computer simulated environment on a neutral planet which is televised throughout the galaxy as a form of popular entertainment. On the Liberator, Vila convinces the others to tune in and watch the latest combat where Tarrant discovers that one of the fighters is his estranged brother Deeta a skilled gunman who is fighting on behalf of Teal. When Avon learns that Servalan has been selected as the neutral arbiter, he suspects foul play and Tarrant tries to warn Deeta. Unfortunately, the crew must first uncover just how the fight has rigged the before it’s too late.
I don’t have a lot of letters behind my name, but I have been taught, the mind does not consciously recognize anything you see for less than .4 seconds. That is how subliminal advertising works. You definitely recognize a feeling, but you can’t explain it. Even an untrained person can draw a weapon and fire in as little as .09 seconds so their should not be a way for the attacked to beat the attacker.
Bohr, the original Mythbuster.
Even if this is true, Han still shot first.
Reflexes are an interest of mine as well. I know that decreased serum magnesium increases deep tendon reflexes. I have always wondered if it increases all polysynaptic efferent reflexive actions as well (such as the fast draw). I hypothesize that it should. While I wouldn’t suggest inducing hypomagnesemia, I would suggest that, all else being equal, a gun slinger with a serum magnesium level in the low end of normal (around 1.6 mEq/ml) would be quicker than a gun slinger with a serum magnesium level in the high end of normal (around 2.4 mEq/ml. Furthermore, I would speculate that reflexes occuring in the presence of a heightened sympathetic nervous state i.e. “an adrenalin rush” would be quicker than a reflexive action occuring during a period of heightened parasympathetic nervous state (such as shortly after having eaten a large meal). As such, I would further hypothesize that a degree of hunger would facilitate increased reflexes. This would be further promoted by ingestion of any chemicals that stimulate sympathetic activity (red bull, Pseudoephedrine, epinepherine, etc.).
Thank you for the info for study! During the summer to come (high altitude here), I’ll give a little more attention to diet and pre-range activities. Some younger folks will also most likely be fine with making and sharing some notes.
For all readers:
...little word of emphasis here for anyone considering single action. If you’re not playing with wax loads for speed, don’t put your thumb or anything else in front of that hammer before the piece is out of the holster and moving forward. The forefinger doesn’t need to be inside the trigger guard before the revolver is out of the holster either. Don’t follow the “quick draw” or “fast draw” artists while using real ammunition.
That said, one can pull and hit and hit targets as fast as greased owl doo-doo after a year or two of safe practice. Do start very slowly, executing each safe step very consciously, and continue working that way indefinitely. Speed will come in due time. ...takes a couple of years, maybe, and probably about 2,500 loads to see much improvement. And if handloading, do quality control obsessively! Use bright, overhead light to double-check every case against double charges before seating bullets. Use at least two manuals and at least a chronograph to develop safe loads, hearing protectors, eye protection, range rules, etc. Have fun.
Oh. And build a backdrop that will catch all of the lead to keep the cattle from eating it. ;-) ...saves money, too.
And BTW, here, reaction time study will only be done during dry fire with triple safety checks, light, fast burning powder and/or wax loads. ...too dangerous with lead.
Oops...and wax loads. ...no or.
1) First of all, guns back then were highly unaccurate 2)Shooters back then were highly unaccurate. 3)Most of the “really good” gunfighters shot off their load—so to speak—before even landing one. In fact, the best chance a fighter had was to sneak up on an opponent—jesse james, wild bill hickock, one of the Earp brothers—and shoot them in the back.
This is easily confirmed. Time how long it takes you to post anything at all controversial. Then time how long it takes you to get flamed.
Is that really Wild West mythology, or is it just a Hollywood convention (since the good guy never draws first)?
Shootout at the O.K. Lab
I'm your huckleberry
Yes, there is a difference between single shot combat and automatic weapons, but I would still rather hit on the first shot.
An account of the most famous of gun duels: