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Thread: Self Defense: The process of shooting your target after the decision to fire is made

  1. #1
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    Self Defense: The process of shooting your target after the decision to fire is made

    When a person sees a lethal threat and decides to present the pistol and fire do they change their focus from the reason (gun, knife) and look at where they want the bullet to go (i.e. high chest)? Or do they plan on looking at both at the same time?

    I'm not looking for a discussion of which is better or even possible, just a person's plan.

    If a person believes in the wide spread idea of tunnel vision and they believe that they can't see both and have or plan to switch focus to their target, then what aspect of what they believe/know they can see must change for them to stop shooting or pause shooting to evaluate?

    I ask this question because the answer a person gives, should go a long way in answering many other questions. However, this question is usually assumed and almost never gets discussed. Then we get strange ideas about how we should make our pistol operate in a gunfight that in reality won't work as well.
    Last edited by JustOneGun; 05-24-2017 at 12:18 PM.
    What you do right before you know you're going to be in a use of force incident, often determines the outcome of that use of force.

  2. #2
    IS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Tunnel vision is what you're consciously processing. Your subconscious mind is still processing data outside that pin prick, granted at much lesser detail. It's why you notice movement out of the corner of your eye even when reading a book.

    From first hand experience, you can have a hard front sight picture, to include tracking under recoil, and still see someone's arm fall and them collapse. You don't get any detail, but the movement is enough for your subconscious to poke your conscious and tell it to change focus for a second and check the new development. Obviously this is easier for the properly trained and experienced, as it's then easier to listen to that little inner monologue and trust it, as opposed to the guy who does a mag dump and is still pulling a dead trigger because his mental clutch has slipped to the point he's not making any new decisions either consciously or subconsciously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    Tunnel vision is what you're consciously processing. Your subconscious mind is still processing data outside that pin prick, granted at much lesser detail. It's why you notice movement out of the corner of your eye even when reading a book.

    From first hand experience, you can have a hard front sight picture, to include tracking under recoil, and still see someone's arm fall and them collapse. You don't get any detail, but the movement is enough for your subconscious to poke your conscious and tell it to change focus for a second and check the new development. Obviously this is easier for the properly trained and experienced, as it's then easier to listen to that little inner monologue and trust it, as opposed to the guy who does a mag dump and is still pulling a dead trigger because his mental clutch has slipped to the point he's not making any new decisions either consciously or subconsciously.

    So you believe that one does both during an incident? So a person could with proper training see the gun (or at least something) fall from a persons hand? Thus know when to stop shooting? If that's what you're saying can you tell me the training method that you believe would allow this response?
    What you do right before you know you're going to be in a use of force incident, often determines the outcome of that use of force.

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    I have no experience physically gunfighting, but my plan would be exactly what I train, look where you're aiming (presumably center mass) since that's exactly where your sights will go.

    As far as seeing general details, stress aside it is not impossible to have a super hard front sight focus on a target at 25+ yards and notice a rifle sized object dropping from it (hell you still need to see the target's location and shape to get aimed at it). All sorts of factors could certainly affect that positively or negatively though

    YMMV (and probably will). Potentially interesting topic, I'm wondering what people's thoughts will be.
    Last edited by Peally; 05-24-2017 at 01:00 PM.
    Semper Gumby, Always Flexible

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    I wasn't trying to give you a gotcha question. I fully believe what you are saying when we talk about training people with progressive stress with the goal of keeping them out of tunnel vision before the mental trigger to fire occurs.

    My question was presented because of a simple concern. Fight or flight has two dimensions. One is looking for the tiger. Heart rate increases. Pupils blow wide open and movement is accentuated. For me hearing also becomes acute. But when I find the tiger, my eyes fixate on that tiger. Research has shown that hard focus does the opposite of what you just described above. Memory tests, the last I read was through Force Science if I recall correctly, talk about the memory holes that many officers have. Their conclusion is that you cannot remember what never got into your brain. The tunnel vision is my eyes now constricting down to a fine point in order to shoot quite accurately. That is a physical act that is different from fight or flight where I'm searching for the target. Once I find the target I hyper constrict my pupils.

    For me and for most people I've talked to, the less you constrict those eyes the less accurate you're going to be. Taking that out to the extreme I can train to see the gun and point shoot the chest but a cost of accuracy. So for me I don't want to go into fight or flight and certainly not tunnel vision due to over sensitivity due to emotion. Through progressive exposure to stress I want to delay that until it can work for me. Thus seeing my target.
    What you do right before you know you're going to be in a use of force incident, often determines the outcome of that use of force.

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    IS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustOneGun View Post
    So you believe that one does both during an incident? So a person could with proper training see the gun (or at least something) fall from a persons hand? Thus know when to stop shooting? If that's what you're saying can you tell me the training method that you believe would allow this response?
    Yes, you can. Sort of. The explanation takes more time and effort than I'm willing to dedicate to a (non-paying) Internet post, but think of your mind as a committee. Your conscious mind is paying attention to what's in the "tunnel" and paying a whole lot of attention to it. Your subconscious is providing very little detail about outside the tunnel, but enough to make fight/flight/freeze decisions. Immediately after my shooting, someone approached me and grabbed my shoulder to move me. I flicked my eye to them, saw a police uniform, and processed literally nothing else as my main focus was still the person I had shot. The officer turned out to be a former partner and good friend of mine, but my mind got what information I needed at that time (uniformed cop, thus ally and not threat) and did not bother to process anything that wasn't relevant to survival (identity of said uniformed cop)

    We all have the innate ability to shift focus rapidly and seamlessly (what's mislabled as "multi-tasking") and get better at it with experience. If you couldn't, you couldn't drive a car. You monitor a dizzying number of variables, most of which are relegated to the subconscious for the experienced driver. Shooting, and all the variables and tasks involved, isn't any more complicated than navigating a multi-lane highway system, constantly judging distances between multiple objects, closing speeds, making predictions based on that, planning actions to take if your predictions come to fruition, monitoring your own driving for compliance with the law and social norms, navigating, maintaining awareness of changing road conditions, signage, positioning of your body to activate controls, etc.

    My department provides scenario and force on force at firearms in-service, which I attend 3 times a year. I also get scenario training with special services in-service, but more geared toward active shooter, riot situations, etc. annually. FATS training was also used early in my career, but that's now been replaced by Simunition and live role players. I also think body language/interview skills have helped me, splitting attention between tone of voice, respiration rate, eye movement, etc. rapidly is not only useful in interview but also in seeing an attack developing. Add in a decade plus of on-the-job observation and shoot/no-shoot decisions and I can't tell you exactly what allows me to do it, if it's some combination or if one particular method was better than the others, I can just tell you that I can and do shift focus in these tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving situations.
    Last edited by BehindBlueI's; 05-24-2017 at 01:04 PM.

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    I can do what you say while point shooting my target. You see my problem is that in real life I don't see the target with the Kahr .40 anymore. I am trying to focus on the thread count of the target's shirt. All I see, even at 47 yards is about 5-6 inches of the targets chest and then as the aspect of that small area changes to include his shirt movement, shoulder and elevation drop. Then it's relax pupils and evaluate that the bad guy is on the ground rolling over and trying to get up. His pistol is two feet from his hand. I cannot tell you when he dropped the gun because it was never in my vision.
    What you do right before you know you're going to be in a use of force incident, often determines the outcome of that use of force.

  8. #8
    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    This is a great subject, JustOneGun.

    Here's my general answer as I've learned it from a lot of study and practice, but not experience:

    Your starting point was the decision to fire being made. That almost certainly happened from looking at something other than the target spot (likely, but not exclusively, from looking at the hands.)

    Eyes move to the target spot as the gun is presented from wherever it was - holster, ready, or previous target - and mounted. Visual focus (accommodation) is pulled back to front sight distance before it arrives there.

    Shoot the sights (call shots and sight track, for me that's with a hard front sight focus, for many that is with a target focus and blurry sights and it could be that way for me in real life.)

    The big cue to get finger in register and dismount the gun to produce fully-obstructed vision and go back to pure decisionmaking, is the target exiting the sight picture, whether that is from dropping or moving laterally out of the sight picture. More evaluation is demanded to attempt to discern between an apparently-incapcitated threat on the ground and one that is on the ground but not stopped and might need more shooting, and also to discern between an adversary fleeing the engagement and an adversary moving to a barrier who might need more shooting.

    Stopping firing because the threat dropped an object that was in the hand may or may not happen. A necessary part of shooting the gun accurately and responsibly is to have it mounted and in front of the eyes (in order to enable use of the sights.) The hands and gun block much of what would otherwise be visible below the target spot. The hands/object-in-hand may or may not be visible during the actual firing process.
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    BB, maybe we are saying the same thing.


    "We all have the innate ability to shift focus rapidly and seamlessly (what's mislabled as "multi-tasking") and get better at it with experience. If you couldn't, you couldn't drive a car. You monitor a dizzying number of variables, most of which are relegated to the subconscious for the experienced driver. Shooting, and all the variables and tasks involved, isn't any more complicated than navigating a multi-lane highway system, constantly judging distances between multiple objects, closing speeds, making predictions based on that, planning actions to take if your predictions come to fruition, monitoring your own driving for compliance with the law and social norms, navigating, maintaining awareness of changing road conditions, signage, positioning of your body to activate controls, etc."


    What you are describing here is a linear process where I am going from a dilated pupil searching for movement (many law enforcement trainers call this soft focus). Then when I see something that says the bad guy needs shooting so I hard focus and then open my pupils again. Sure that's what we train for. But what my experience and what research has show is that once that eye constricts to shoot that is a physical act of the eye and your peripheral vision is limited by the amount of constriction. And while I'm focused on that target (for a short amount of time) I am not seeing that gun fall. I didn't and research backs me up when I say, even if you have a means to do that, it will come at some cost of accuracy of bullet placement.

    To me that last point is very important when we talk about how we are going to build our training.
    What you do right before you know you're going to be in a use of force incident, often determines the outcome of that use of force.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_White View Post
    This is a great subject, JustOneGun.

    Here's my general answer as I've learned it from a lot of study and practice, but not experience:

    Your starting point was the decision to fire being made. That almost certainly happened from looking at something other than the target spot (likely, but not exclusively, from looking at the hands.)

    Eyes move to the target spot as the gun is presented from wherever it was - holster, ready, or previous target - and mounted. Visual focus (accommodation) is pulled back to front sight distance before it arrives there.

    Shoot the sights (call shots and sight track, for me that's with a hard front sight focus, for many that is with a target focus and blurry sights and it could be that way for me in real life.)

    The big cue to get finger in register and dismount the gun to produce fully-obstructed vision and go back to pure decisionmaking, is the target exiting the sight picture, whether that is from dropping or moving laterally out of the sight picture. More evaluation is demanded to attempt to discern between an apparently-incapcitated threat on the ground and one that is on the ground but not stopped and might need more shooting, and also to discern between an adversary fleeing the engagement and an adversary moving to a barrier who might need more shooting.

    Stopping firing because the threat dropped an object that was in the hand may or may not happen. A necessary part of shooting the gun accurately and responsibly is to have it mounted and in front of the eyes (in order to enable use of the sights.) The hands and gun block much of what would otherwise be visible below the target spot. The hands/object-in-hand may or may not be visible during the actual firing process.

    While I agree with you about our gun obstructing our view, that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is that if the person has the gun up at eye level and you are shooting him in the chest you might not see the gun depending on your focus, even though the gun is less than 12 inches away from your point of focus. Tunnel vision is like shooting through a cardboard tube in the middle of a roll of paper towels.
    What you do right before you know you're going to be in a use of force incident, often determines the outcome of that use of force.

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