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Tunnel Vision & “After Action Drills”

tunnel visionKnow what tunnel vision is? It’s a physiological response to stress and fear that enables ones vision to be so sharply and acutely focused on one thing (the threat) that the periphery becomes blurry or obsolete. It’s like looking through a paper towel roll. Most of us have experienced this at some point in our lives, but why does it matter if you’re carrying a gun?

Since tunnel vision is a natural response to stress and fear, it becomes ever-present for most people during violent encounters (from the research I’ve done). This physiological response is “natural” because it allows us to focus on the “one thing” that could threaten our very existence. But what happens if there is more than “one thing?”

According to certain statistics on violent encounters, most encounters occur with 2.5 assailants. Yes, you’re right. There can’t be a half a person. The lesson is this. Most violent attacks have more than one threat. That means if your eyes are locked onto the thug directly in front of you, what is going on to the side of you and behind you? You literally might not see, even if they are at your 3 o’clock position.

How do we overcome this potentially life-saving and life-threatening physiological response? Simple. We practice what’s known as “after-action drills.” This means that after we act, we must do a particular set of drills to break this tunnel vision. We must train like this regularly even while shooting at the range for it to become muscle memory. After all, we should train how you would fight, because you will fight like how you train. So what are “after action drills” that break our tunnel vision? After we engage a threat (shoot) we must do the following:

1. Scan – Lower your weapon to low ready while rotating it slightly to the left (ejection side up) and do a quick scan left and right of your target for additional threats. With your weapon slightly tilted ejection side up, you will be able to quickly assess the condition of your weapon for malfunctions or being empty.
2. Quick Check – Quickly “check your 6” – your six o’clock position (behind you) for additional threats sneaking up on you from behind. Do this rapidly over both shoulders
3. Re-check your threat – Get back on your threat with your weapon at the low ready. Make sure they are no longer a threat. Are they down and out or are they still fighting or capable of fighting? If needed, engage again. If not, continue after action drills.
4. Paint the perimeter – Once your threat is no longer a threat you must check 360 degrees around you. We must practice “painting” our vision up and down floor-to-ceiling as we turn 360 degrees around ourselves to see if any additional threats are present.

Different instructors and different schools may switch the order of these actions (specifically 1 & 2) but the importance is to break the tunnel vision! Give these drills a try and incorporate them into your training regimen!

Speak Your Mind

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