Do You See What You Are Looking At?

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Do You See What You Are Looking At?

As a Firearms Instructor, I require my students to look to each side after firing two or three shots. In a training scenario, this solves two important problems. The first problem is tunnel vision. My goal is to break the shooter’s tunnel vision from being focused only on the threat. The threat is very important, but so are additional threats which could be other bad guys. The second problem is “seeing” what they are looking at. By looking to each side, it causes the shooter to check around for other bad guys. They are also looking for innocent citizens who might be about to walk into the line of fire. The shooter must also watch for law enforcement arriving at the scene.

Seeing, instead of just looking, has a lot to do with self-defense. “Seeing” what you are looking at, may save your life in a threatening situation. When I was a Training Officer for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, I was constantly instructing my rookies to “watch the hands,” when confronting a suspect. As civilians, we look at people’s faces as we talk to them. Faces can be important. A clamped jaw, darting eyes, can tell us things about a person’s state of mind. I told the rookies, “It’s the hands that will kill you.” With rookie Law Enforcement Officers, it is a whole new “lifestyle” of constantly being aware and really “Seeing” what they are looking at around them. If you are a concealed carry, armed citizen , “Seeing” could also save your life.

There was a special training drill, I would do with a new deputy. While they were driving the patrol car, I would instruct them to stop on a side road about halfway down the block. Then, I would say, “You need to get on the radio and call for help. We are being shot at, I am wounded, and our car is disabled. The suspects were shooting from the pickup truck which just drove passed us.”

Does the new deputy know where we are? Does he know the name of the street or highway we are on? Did he see how many suspects were in the truck before they started shooting at us? What color and make was the truck? This is all very important information which must be transmitted to the dispatcher, if she is going to be able to send help. The sound of the cavalry arriving with lights and sirens is a beautiful sound when you need help.

This training scenario was a wake up call for the new deputies. When I confronted them with such a dangerous scenario, as I described in my fictional situation, they suddenly realized the importance of “seeing what they were looking at.” When they turned down the side street, did they see the street sign and know the name of the street they were on? They saw the truck, but did they see what color it was? This training scenario was so new deputy would always remember to “see” the street sign, not just “look” at it while driving past.

I often used a similar training drill to teach them how to look for a suspect, who might be hiding in a building that had been burglarized. We would use a vacant building or an old abandoned house. The rookie was required to search each room or office. I had “planted” a mannequin in one of the closets. The rookie would go room to room, yelling “clear.” He knew it was a training drill so he didn’t expect to discover some “dummy” hiding in a closet.

One night, another Training Officer and I, took our rookies to one of our favorite abandoned warehouses. We would instruct them to search the building for burglary suspects, after a silent burglar alarm had been set off. A “silent alarm” was one which did not give off any sound at the scene. This often allowed Law Enforcement to arrive while the suspects were still there. On this particular night, the other training officer pointed to a truck parked behind the building. We didn’t say anything about it to the rookies. We only told them to search the building for suspects and that we would be right behind them, if they needed us. The rookies did not seem to have noticed the pickup truck.

I am not sure who was more surprised: The rookies, or the two lovers using the old building for a rendezvous! The new officers should have seen the truck, checked the hood to see if it was warm, and called into dispatch giving the trucks description and tag number, before going into the building.

I wouldn’t expect most civilians to go to the extremes I mentioned above. But as Concealed Carry Citizens, or “sheep dogs”, we take on more responsibility than the average citizen, or the sheep.

I hope you never experience a self-defense situation. Before, during, and after a shooting, a person is going to have a very narrow focus on the threat which they just encountered. When doing shooting drills, you need to practice seeing more than just the target. As you lower your gun after shooting, stop and look for additional threats. As a self-defense firearms instructor, I train using shooting drills with the students. When they lower their gun to re-assess the threat, I will hold out a hand and they must tell me how many fingers I am holding up. I might even set an item down, such as my hat or earmuffs, eight or ten yards to one side. I will ask them to tell me what they saw. After training, I want my students to feel confident and be a responsible concealed carry gun owner.

When I am instructing my students on the firing range, during a gun training class, I stand right at the student’s shoulder. I am constantly watching their aim, grip, and trigger finger, while the student goes through the shooting drills. I must make sure the student is following all the gun safety rules. When I teach concealed carry classes, I have a huge responsibility.

I cannot afford to just look at my students, I must see them!

Paul Foreman is a retired Deputy Sheriff from Lee County Florida. As a Deputy Sheriff, he served as a Field Training Officer in the Patrol Division. Later, before retiring, Paul was assigned to the Juvenile Division, where he worked as a Truant Officer. Paul has authored a novel, “Blood Stains in Paradise.” Now living in northern Alabama, with his wife, JoAnn, Paul teaches firearms self-defense classes. Paul is an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, AHA Certified Instructor in First Aid, CPR & AED. As well as writing for Legally Concealed, Paul also writes Firearms articles for a local bi-weekly paper, “Athens Now.” For firearms training, Paul can be reached through E-Mail at [email protected] or his web site, www.PaulForeman.com

One Comment

  • Greg Schmidt says:

    Superb information, not just for law enforcement or concealed carry permit holders, but for people going about their normal everyday routines. There’s no telling how many crimes could be prevented if everyone just notched up their situational awareness even a little. In the age of video games and social media, the art of observation is a lost skill.

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