Yesterday I was scoping out a future camp site near where I work. It was absolutely gorgeous -- the temperature was perfect, all I could hear was the birds singing, the leaves rustling, and I just took a few minutes to just relax and let the stress of the week just flow away. I guess you could say I was in my "happy place." When I was totally calm, I started moving again. Half a step later a mid-sized animal burst out from almost underneath my feet! I just saw a blur of movement and a shape moving away from me. I recognized it as a fawn that must have only been about a week old, or less. It was hiding under the small bush I was standing next to. The thing was, before I was able to resolve the shape of the surprise into a harmless fawn, my startle relfex had prompted me to draw my gun as soon as I felt threatened (I thought it was a badger). Less than a second after the initial scare, I had the fawn in my sights. I hesistated to pull the trigger (my finger was still off the trigger) until I knew what was happening. Time seemed to slow down from the initial scare, so I'm not sure exactly how fast the draw was, but the fawn had made it less than three feet before I had the "threat" covered, so I must have been pretty fast. The whole thing had to have been less than a second. I don't put this out there to brag, but it was an excellent "real world" test of things I had been wondering. I'm not a professional -- I don't compete in IDPA or anything -- I just am a responsible gun owner who figures that carrying a gun is useless at best unless I'm trained to use it -- so I train. I wanted to know how fast I could respond to a threat from a total surprise -- there's no way to artificially and safely recreate that scenario -- so here I got my chance to test. I carry a .40 Kahr in my right front pocket. I knew that I had a fast draw once my hand was in the pocket, but I didn't know how fast I could get to the gun. Since my hands were relaxed by my side I had to go for the gun in the process. I had also been worried about clearing the fabric of the pocket under stress. Neither caused a problem. I must put my hand in my pocket a hundred times a day, and everytime I do, I grip the gun so that I could draw it. I think this caused a very natural response. I had also wondered about "footwork" under stress. I was mid-step moving forward when the fawn broke cover, about 1.5 feet to my right, and it ran straight across my path to escape. I've learned through martial arts how to change direction without stopping -- so I started by stepping forward, but ended up stepping back away from the threat, without "jumping." I ended up left foot forward in a classic "weaver" stance, even in heavy vegitation and uneven ground. The draw had come out while moving backwards. (Something I have not yet trained, BTW). The last thing I realized while deconstructing this opportunity is that the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) was very clearly defined, yet the "decision" to draw came somewhere between Observe (Threat at my feet!) and Orient. It took me almost a full second to get to the "Act" part (let the poor frightened Bambi go) but before I had completely oriented to the situation (it's not a Badger, and it's not moving toward me) I already had the sights on the threat. (Rough "Sight Picture" focus on the front sight, back sights a blur, not a carefully oriented shot, but I'm certain I could have hit the target easily.) So the "Decide" factor was not "Do I draw the gun" that I had expected, but "Do I shoot?" The "Act" was to lower the gun and let Bambi go. At no time did I feel like I was "out of control" or in danger of madly firing my gun, yet all physical motion happened without thinking. I do remember thinking "Gun!" when I first heard the noise, but it was like it magically appeared in my hand when summoned, in the place where I had trained for it to go. There was also no jerking or rough movement -- I had trained with smoothness of motion as the priority over speed, and it showed under stress. It is true what they say: "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast." So what I take from this situation for myself: 1. Practice does overcome the lack of "fine motor skills" requred to draw and maniplulate a gun. 2. You can retrain your "startle reflex" to get inside your own OODA loop. 3. Don't worry about "hip shooting" -- a rough sight picture comes extremely fast, and is much better. Plus both hands go to the gun. 4. Front pocket carry (with the right holster) has a faster presentation than I expected. 5. I had trained to keep my finger out of the trigger guard until ready to shoot -- this didn't slow me down at all, but added considerably to the safety of the whole situation. 6. Even though my gun has a laser sight which instictively activated, and I train with, and without it, I didn't lose time "looking for the dot." It was too bright to find the dot, and I didn't "need it." It would have been a help, but losing it didn't mess me up. (I had been worried I would "freeze" until I found the dot.) 7. Footwork happened naturally as part of the draw. I practice "aiming with my feet" when I can, and it certainly worked here. 8. I didn't have a "death grip" on the gun, but it was firm -- basically what I had drilled for. This "incident" had given me a lot more confidence in the use of a gun in self-defense. Hopefully that confidence will make me smoother in the future, and even faster. Also, it totally reinforces my faith in the value of drilling, and now I will be doing it even more than before.