Real Life Example – Action Beats Reaction

Norfolk man was trying to stop a robbery, brother says. He pointed his gun, but his killer fired first.

Pedro “Pete” Cain had been hanging out with some neighbors at his apartment building in the 9000 block of 1st View St. when a woman came up to the group and asked to use someone’s phone, 20-year-old Jonathan Cain said Friday.

They told her they didn’t have one she could use. And Pete Cain, suspicious the woman might be casing the place, ran back to his apartment, got his handgun from a drawer, loaded a clip and returned to his neighbor’s.

After coming back, a man wearing a bandana pointed a gun at them, Jonathan Cain said.

So Pete Cain took aim at the would-be robber and ordered him to put his gun on the ground. The man seemed to comply, slowly lowering it.

But then he jerked up and fired, hitting Pete Cain in the stomach, his younger brother said.


This a real life example of a principle we talk about in our CCW classes: Action beats Reaction.  Studies in human performance have proven that action beats reaction.  Force Science Institute completed one study in which a suspect had a handgun (training gun) at their side and an "officer" was positioned with a handgun (training gun) pointed at the suspect ready to fire.  When the suspect moved the handgun toward the officer, the officer would respond and fire.  On average it took the suspect 0.38 seconds for the suspect to move his handgun and fire at the officer.  It took the officer, who only had to pull the trigger, an average of 0.39 seconds to fire at the suspect.  The officers were slightly slower.  Why?  THe answer is that they first had to perceive the threat and react.  Studies have shown that it takes the average person between 0.2 to 0.5 seconds to see / perceive that a threat exists and then react to what they have perceived.

On the range, you can test your reaction with a shooting timer.  With your gun pointed at the target, fire on the tone and see what the delay is between the first shot and the tone.  This will give you an idea of what your reaction time is.

The tragic story above illustrates an important lesson for us all.  There's a time to talk and a time to shoot to stop the threat.  If you are in imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, the time for talk has ended.  We can verbalize when it's feasible, but not without being behind cover and having distance between you and the threat.  Note: Giving commands obviously doesn't apply to an active shooter situation where verbalizing may give the assailant more time which may allow for the killing of many more people.