Scanning is a concept that is being presented in almost every quality firearms training program. Unfortunately, it has become more of an exercise of action rather than an effort to see. By this, I mean, I have witnessed shooters “go through the motions” of scanning following the shooting drill. However, they did not make any dedicated effort to scan the area for individuals, objects, or threats.

First, you must consider which is more important, seeing or shooting? I believe the obvious answer is seeing. Second, you have to think about what it takes to actually see something. It is safe to say it is not merely the action of moving one’s eyes to and past specific areas. Lastly, you have to recognize seeing everything is a significant challenge, especially under combat stress. The goal is to see and identify the things in our environment. The threats presented to us, our loved ones, or those around us. Thus the need for scanning.

Most instructors use shoot/don’t shoot targets to force the shooter to make seeing a critical element of the force decision-making process. However, the issue I see on the range is associated with the scanning of the environment following the shooting drills. People are merely going through the motions. They are scanning, but they are not looking, which means they are not seeing.

During today’s episode, I discuss this issue and the real-world applications of scanning.


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