Time Dilation Under Stress, Courtesy of Walt in PA

Courtesy of Walt in PA

Walt White at Walt in PA has posted another match report from his recent USPSA match. Check it out.

As I read Walt’s description of his first stage, Stage 4, I began to see a neat demonstration of a curious phenomenon: how time slows down when we’re “in the zone.”

To see what I mean, read Walt’s description of this malfunction he ran into:

It was at this point that I ran into trouble. My slide was locked back but my magazine wouldn’t drop free after pressing the magazine release button. I gave the gun a little shake to try and free the magazine but was unsuccessful. Being the first time I had ever encountered this problem, I acted on instinct. I mashed down on the slide release lever and the slide snapped forward. A press on the magazine release lever sent the empty magazine falling to the ground. I re-inserted a new magazine and racked the slide.

With a round in the chamber and the slide in battery, the gun appeared ready to rock. I raised the gun and fired two last shots on the one remaining target.

As I read this, and imagined it in my mind, I thought it might take him 5 or 6 seconds to clear the problem.

Watch the video though:

You can see that it takes Walt 3 seconds, from 0:29 to 0:32, to clear and bring the gun back up. I think the fact that he was able to describe dropping the slide and trying to drop the magazine shows that he could and think about and clearly see all the details of what was happening.

All this happens because, when we are “in the zone,” or under stress, the body is filled with the “fight or flight” response, and flooded with adrenaline. Our brains speed up, and perception of time is altered. Lots of people have reported this, and I once experienced it during an auto crash.

Just a neat observation. Thanks, Walt.

One thought on “Time Dilation Under Stress, Courtesy of Walt in PA

  1. Thanks for another mention. I didn't realize that I cleared the malfunction that fast, it felt like it took forever (or at least 5-6 seconds)


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