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How to Practice the Scan and Assess

In high intensity encounters, it can be easy to fixate on a perceived threat and not notice that there are other threats around you. This is commonly referred to as tunnel vision. In this NRA Firearm Training Tip, we will cover how to scan and assess the situation before disengaging from the situation, and re-holstering your firearm.

While it is always best to avoid confrontation, and to use your firearm as a tool of last resort, if you are left with no choice other than to use your firearm – you should scan the area and assess the situation. Here are some tips on how to scan and assess:

  1. Bring your pistol down into a low ready position - This clears your visual field and disrupts tunnel vision.  
  2. With your firearm in the low-ready position, scan to the left and right by bringing your head around to each side sufficiently to see all the way behind you. 
  3. Keep the muzzle of your firearm facing forward as you turn your head.
  4. Do not simply turn your head to go through the paces – be sure you are seeing the things around you, and you are noticing the details. 

To practice scanning and assessing with your firearm, you can practice this drill: 
  • Place your target at 7 yards, 
  • Draw and engage the target with two six rounds,
  • Come into the low ready position, and perform your scan by turning your head left to right, while keeping your muzzle forward facing
  • Once you have completed your scan and assess, re-holster your firearm 

If you have a training partner, have them stand to the left or right of you, not within your firing line, and ask them to hold up fingers to make sure you are paying attention during the scan. Call out the number of fingers that you see being held up. If you are shooting by yourself, make sure to observe your surroundings in detail.

Disclaimer: Always follow the NRA Rules for Gun Safety and be sure to abide by your range’s rules.

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