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Gunfighting and Neuroscience: Why Using Your Front Sight Might Kill You

daftandbarmy

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Both eyes open....


Gunfighting and Neuroscience: Why Using Your Front Sight Might Kill You​

Success in a gunfight doesn’t depend on how well you shoot. It depends on how well you see. Unfortunately, everyone in the tactical and self defense communities trains endlessly on the mechanics of shooting, while completely ignoring the more important aspects of seeing. In this article we will review some new research that drastically impacts the basics of firearms training.

Many years ago in a universe far far away, I studied psychology. Part of my training for this degree required that I take cognitive psychology, which covers the biology of the brain and body, especially vision systems. This might seem somewhat far afield for psychology, but not all psychologists listen to patients talk about trauma on a couch. Many psychologists spend a career researching perception, cognition and, other aspects of consciousness.

I can say with experience that your perception and vision systems are very complex and even researchers specializing in these areas have much more to study before anything like a complete understanding is achieved. For this article, we will discuss a few of these research concepts such as, attentional control theory, and the neuroscience behind the quiet eye.

Quiet Eye, Sports, and Gunfighting​

Long time readers of this website will remember I wrote an article entitled, “Neuroscience, Expert Gunfighters, and the Quiet Eye,” several years ago. In that article I reviewed some cool research where a group of SWAT officers were compared to rookie police officers in a use of force scenario.

During that scenario each group was presented with a shoot or no shoot condition. The researchers fitted each participant with headgear that tracked each officer’s eye movements to examine what exactly they were looking at. They discovered that there was a huge difference in performance, directly attributable to each participant’s quiet eye.

What is the Quiet Eye?​

The “quiet eye” is the final fixation on a location that is within 3ᵒ of visual angle for a minimum of 100ms’ (Vickers, 1996). In simpler terms this is a fixed spot that your gaze lingers on prior to executing a task. It could be staring at the rim of a basketball hoop prior to a free throw, or looking at a suspect’s elbow prior to him presenting a firearm.

The quiet eye phenomenon has been associated with expert ability for many years. No matter the area of sporting expertise, they find that the highest performers always exhibit longer and more consistent quiet eye duration.

https://www.tierthreetactical.com/g...ARzOG5m2RydnRbFnpBVA-vM-9fYIge35oRn8-QVXVTaQk
 

FJAG

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This reminds me a bit of training 2 RCHA for the 76 Olympics. The regiment was tasked in large part with providing security inside hotels for VIPs. Our Brit exchange officer and I and a few NCOs had the task of training several hundred gunners on the care and feeding of the Browning HP and how to shoot within the confined corridors of a hotel - a weapon and tactical scenario they obviously weren't familiar with. We adopted a program newly in vogue at the time called "Quick Kill" which teaches intuitive shooting. There's literally no sighting the weapon. One trains with the gun at the waist or slightly above to follow where the eye is looking and shooting instinctively. We built corridors out of hessian in an expedient ranges in he woods with "shoot - no shoot" pop out targets coming out of doorways and took folks through many times with each man firing hundreds of rounds.

🍻
 

Haggis

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One trains with the gun at the waist or slightly above to follow where the eye is looking and shooting instinctively.
Ahhhh, the old "police crouch". Now referred to ass 'point shooting", it's very effective at close range where absolute precision (i.e. a no reflex kill shot to the head/cervical spine junction) is required.

The "quiet eye" concept is the foundation for flash sighting. Having the time to perfectly align your sights is not always possible. But, keeping both eyes open and superimposing an imperfect sight alignment on your target can get you semi-accurate hits out to 10 or 12 metres consistently with practice.
 

daftandbarmy

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This reminds me a bit of training 2 RCHA for the 76 Olympics. The regiment was tasked in large part with providing security inside hotels for VIPs. Our Brit exchange officer and I and a few NCOs had the task of training several hundred gunners on the care and feeding of the Browning HP and how to shoot within the confined corridors of a hotel - a weapon and tactical scenario they obviously weren't familiar with. We adopted a program newly in vogue at the time called "Quick Kill" which teaches intuitive shooting. There's literally no sighting the weapon. One trains with the gun at the waist or slightly above to follow where the eye is looking and shooting instinctively. We built corridors out of hessian in an expedient ranges in he woods with "shoot - no shoot" pop out targets coming out of doorways and took folks through many times with each man firing hundreds of rounds.

🍻
Cool.

The basics don't change much! ;)
 

Colin Parkinson

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My RCMP buddy working Surrey has had to draw his gun several times, but thankfully not had to pull the trigger. I asked him "What do you see when your gun is drawn?" He said the first time it was tunnel vision, the last couple of time his vision has opened up to take in more of the surroundings.
 

lenaitch

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Ahhhh, the old "police crouch". Now referred to ass 'point shooting", it's very effective at close range where absolute precision (i.e. a no reflex kill shot to the head/cervical spine junction) is required.

The "quiet eye" concept is the foundation for flash sighting. Having the time to perfectly align your sights is not always possible. But, keeping both eyes open and superimposing an imperfect sight alignment on your target can get you semi-accurate hits out to 10 or 12 metres consistently with practice.

Public safety FA training has certainly come a long way from back in the day when I joined, when we stood erect and did one-hand shooting - single and double action and no reloading under the clock.
 

Haggis

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Public safety FA training has certainly come a long way from back in the day when I joined, when we stood erect and did one-hand shooting - single and double action and no reloading under the clock.
The advances in police firearms equipment has been driven by bad guys with guns. Criminals started the "arms race". The improvements in training have been driven by the looming threat of liability and litigation for rounds gone astray or fired without justification. 100% round accountability is the minimum standard these days.
 

RedFive

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My RCMP buddy working Surrey has had to draw his gun several times, but thankfully not had to pull the trigger. I asked him "What do you see when your gun is drawn?" He said the first time it was tunnel vision, the last couple of time his vision has opened up to take in more of the surroundings.
I'm also in Surrey.

I see and focus on the thing they have that has caused me to pull my gun, be it a knife, rock, sword (there's a story there) or pellet gun, at least initially. The the training kicks in and a proper sight picture is developed.

Also, when trained in IARD (Immediate Action Rapid Deployment, active threat scenarios) the instructors we're shooting with Simunition at eat a good portion of our sim rounds off the weapon they're holding or the hand they're holding it in. I was told it was part of the fight or flight response to fixate on the source of the threat.
 

Colin Parkinson

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The advances in police firearms equipment has been driven by bad guys with guns. Criminals started the "arms race". The improvements in training have been driven by the looming threat of liability and litigation for rounds gone astray or fired without justification. 100% round accountability is the minimum standard these days.
Not to mention a study that showed bad guys were getting more hits per rounds fired than good guys.
 

Haggis

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Was that because they were shooting out of ambush or just poor marksmanship?
In most cases where there is an exchange of gunfire, the criminal fires first. The officer has to react. Secondly, I think everyone on army.ca knows that marksmanship (markspersonship?) is a perishable skill and most LEOs get very little practice through work.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Most Mounties shoot maybe 200 rds in a year if they are lucky, the BC Sheriffs pushed their requalification's to 18months to save money. I took my LEO friends shooting at a IPSC training night, they were amazed that we were shooting 300 rds in one night and many do that monthly. If the gun bans go ahead and local ranges ban any police training, the cost of training RCMP is going to skyrocket as they have to travel to police owned ranges meaning higher travel and OT costs.
 

Blackadder1916

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Not to mention a study that showed bad guys were getting more hits per rounds fired than good guys.

Do you have a link or a title to that study? I'm wondering about the methodology used. I tried using google-fu, but nothing that specific popped out.
 

reveng

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Also, when trained in IARD (Immediate Action Rapid Deployment, active threat scenarios) the instructors we're shooting with Simunition at eat a good portion of our sim rounds off the weapon they're holding or the hand they're holding it in. I was told it was part of the fight or flight response to fixate on the source of the threat.
On a somewhat related note that might be of interest:

There's a medical procedure called SGB that's supposed to significantly reduce the negative aspects of flight or flight response, allowing for quicker reaction times and better problem solving under stress. Apparently it's been used with success in various US SOF units, as well as a treatment for veterans.
 

Haggis

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If the gun bans go ahead and local ranges ban any police training, the cost of training RCMP is going to skyrocket as they have to travel to police owned ranges meaning higher travel and OT costs.
One club out west has already banned LEOs from using their service firearms for off-duty practice. LEAs can still rent the range for supervised, on-duty shooting. Smaller clubs make a lot of money from LEA rentals so they may not be able to afford to refuse to rent to LEAs if their membership numbers plummet due to more gun bans.

Also, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the Liberals amend the Shooting Clubs and Shooting Range Regulations so that gun clubs cannot ban LEAs from using their facilities. It will be a condition of the range licence.
 

Ostrozac

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Do you have a link or a title to that study? I'm wondering about the methodology used. I tried using google-fu, but nothing that specific popped out.
I think it might be a reference to the NYPD Firearms Discharge Report for the year 2000, which showed, for gunfights (an incident with shots fired by both officers and perps), officer accuracy rates of 9% (16 hits for 185 shots fired) and perp accuracy rates of 17% (7 hits for 42 shots fired).


That year may have been particularly bad, and an aberration for the NYPD, though. There was a 2008 RAND study that said “Between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate was 18% for gun fights.” But that was for the NYPD, the RAND study doesn’t appear to give accuracy stats for the other side of the gunfight (the perp).


The NYPD seems to be the main agency studied — they are the largest police force in the US and seem to keep copious statistics.
 

Jarnhamar

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One club out west has already banned LEOs from using their service firearms for off-duty practice.
Honestly I hope more follow suit if it means putting pressure on police/leo unions to be more vocal about the bans.
 

FJAG

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I think it might be a reference to the NYPD Firearms Discharge Report for the year 2000, which showed, for gunfights (an incident with shots fired by both officers and perps), officer accuracy rates of 9% (16 hits for 185 shots fired) and perp accuracy rates of 17% (7 hits for 42 shots fired).


That year may have been particularly bad, and an aberration for the NYPD, though. There was a 2008 RAND study that said “Between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate was 18% for gun fights.” But that was for the NYPD, the RAND study doesn’t appear to give accuracy stats for the other side of the gunfight (the perp).


The NYPD seems to be the main agency studied — they are the largest police force in the US and seem to keep copious statistics.
I seem to remember having similar statistics given to us when we were doing the pre-Olympic training with the added statistic that the vast majority of shots were fired at a range of less than 15 feet i.e usually within the same room. That left us with the impression that lots of rounds get fired off while both parties were ducking and weaving to get some cover or get out of the way.

🍻
 

Haggis

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I seem to remember having similar statistics given to us when we were doing the pre-Olympic training with the added statistic that the vast majority of shots were fired at a range of less than 15 feet i.e usually within the same room. That left us with the impression that lots of rounds get fired off while both parties were ducking and weaving to get some cover or get out of the way.

🍻
21 feet (roughly 6 to 7 metres) was the generally accepted outside range for lethal force encounter as postulated in a 1983 article in SWAT Magazine. That led to the creation of the oft cited Tueller Principle (Tueller Drill). This was the proverbial "line in the sand" used by officers to determine when to draw and/or fire on an advancing subject armed with an edged or impact weapon. A better understanding and application of the Seven Tactical Principles has reduced the absolute reliance on the Tueller Principle.
 
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