Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE: RGR) is excited to announce the extension of the 2 Million Gun Challenge to Benefit the NRA - which is now the 2.5 Million Gun Challenge. Between the 2015 and 2016 NRA Annual Meetings, Ruger met the challenge goal of selling two million new firearms, for a total donation of $4,000,000 to the NRA-ILA.
After reading Rich's column in Tuesday's Wire I want to discuss scanning. The most common reason given for scanning is to locate any additional threats. This is good, but there are a lot more reasons to be scanning.
For purposes of this discussion we'll define "scanning" as looking around your environment, as opposed to a close examination. Being visually oriented creatures, the majority of what we gather comes through the eyes. This is especially true under stress, when almost everyone experiences auditory exclusion; your hearing shuts down and you start relying almost totally on the eyes to find out what's going on around you.
What are you looking for or trying to find? There is a list of things, just keep in mind the details will differ according to who you are, what you do, and the particulars of the situation.
According to the documentation there is likely to be more than one potential "threat," and they won't be all lined up all in a row in front of you like they are on the range. This doesn't mean you'll need to shoot several people. You may not even have to fire your weapon. But if there are other possible threats you need to locate them. Plus scanning and the body language that goes with it tells other possible threats you're still plugged in and ready to fight if necessary. This also doesn't mean you can ignore the threat that's down or gone.
You scan to find your family or friends. Where are they and what do you need them to do? The same applies for locating armed partners you may be working with. Look to locate cover to get behind and the protection it offers. Just because the threat is down or gone doesn't mean the fight is over. You glance around to find an exit in order to escape or get to a safer location. Visually checking your weapon's condition might be a good idea; on the range you'll often see people standing there with an empty weapon. If the slide is out of battery – you're empty or have a malfunction – you need to get it operational again. For armed citizens you need to look and see if law enforcement officers are arriving so you can comply with their commands. Remember, at that point they don't know who the good guys are.
A big reason to scan is to break out of the "tunnel vision" most people experience under stress – your field of view narrows down to roughly fifteen degrees so you can visually focus on the source of danger. (The level you experience this depends on how stressful the event is, which will vary according to the individual and their experience.) After the immediate danger is over you need to open up your field of vision. Moving your eyes off the old danger and visually focusing on something farther away opens up your field of view. Your peripheral vision is working again. Now you can look in another direction you yet still monitor the downed threat, in case they get back into the fight, or the corner they ran around to escape, because they might decide to come back.
When and where do you need to scan? That depends on the specifics of the situation. Does every situation call for you to scan? No, but it's easy to choose not to do something you've practiced as opposed to trying to remember to employ a skill or technique that you don't practice or understand.
When you think about it you should be scanning all the time, paying attention to the environment in order to spot possible danger in advance. You need to be scanning after the immediate threat is down or gone, while still watching the last know threat or keeping an eye on where you last saw them. Like all other skills this takes practice and repetition, but with the proper thought process behind it. When practicing you have to make the mental connections between what you're doing on the range and how it applies in "real" life. Otherwise it does just become a motion you perform on the range without any real meaning attached to it. Mentally plug in during practice so that when it counts your actions will be productive.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org