Humans have a natural tendency to stare at a threat—and keep staring at it. That leads to bizarre ballistics; numerous citizens have shot the weapon hand of their attacker. That’s because armed defenders tend to stare at the bad guy’s weapon. Their shot follows their gaze. Despite all those Westerns that would have you believe that’s a good thing it’s not. For one thing, you’re bound to miss your attacker entirely—at a time where a second chance to stop the threat may be as hard to get as a date with Arizona Muse. But wait! Eye fixation is an even bigger problem than that . . .
There’s a good chance that an armed self-defender will be facing more than one bad guy. The brothers Tsarnaev. Need I say any more? After shooting the primary threat you’re well advised to move your eyes off the target entirely— and search for another threat. And another. And another.
That’s a whole lot more difficult than it sounds—and it doesn’t sound easy. Even if you manage to avoid fixating on the weapon in the bad guy’s hand and hit center mass there’s another natural tendency working against you: the desire to stare at carnage.
When your bullet or bullets find their mark, it’s not going to be pretty. But it will be fascinating. Assuming you haven’t been playing in the Sandbox or doing wet work for The Company, the attendant blood and guts will be a novel experience. You’ll want to watch what happens.
To paraphrase the Talking Heads, that’s no time for dancin’ or lovey dovey (you ain’t got time for that now). There may be more bad guys, first responders responding, innocents who need assistance, etc. When push has come to shove and the initial shoving’s done, you need to start scanning. Reflexively.
I’m sure Doug Koenig will be relieved to know we agree on the value of practicing shooting multiple targets. It trains your brain to move from one target to the next. In fact, once you’ve got your marksmanship sorted, shooting at a single target repeatedly is a bad idea; you program your subconscious for one and done.
If you can’t set-up multiple targets where you practice, use targets with multiple targets on them. Better yet, draw three shapes with three letters (inside each shape) on three sheets of computer paper. Staple them onto the cardboard. Get someone to call out a letter or a shape at random.
[NB: Shooting left to right or right to left sequentially over hundreds of rounds also creates a dangerous pattern.]
One more thing. Koeing doesn’t scan after he’s done shooting. You should. Not just because you need to train yourself to look for other threats but also because you need to instinctively break eye contact with unfathomable gore. Ugly but true.