The better defensive-shooting schools teach a student to “look and assess” after firing a string in a defensive shootout. Unfortunately, we see a lot of folks who clearly don’t understand what they are doing or what they are supposed to be doing. They’ll turn their head this way and that, wiggle their butt a couple of times, and do a snappy re-holster—guaranteed to impress those who will watch their YouTube performance. Well, choreography aside, there really is a good reason to look and assess—actually there are two good reasons.
The first has to do with the fact that we tend to get tunnel vision when we feel threatened or frightened. We will focus on the threat to the exclusion of everything else that might be going on around us. But, we know that we can overcome this problem because that is exactly what we do when we force ourselves to focus on our front sight when we break our defensive shot.
Certainly, our first objective should be to deal with the threat. We don’t want to look away from the threat until we can have some assurance that it is no longer a threat. We practice looking to our left and right, after dealing with the threat, in order to break that tunnel vision.
The other reason that we want to break that tunnel vision is because there may well be other threats bearing down on us. Crooks tend to run in packs, you know. One crook may get your attention while other crooks sneak up behind you. Remember, the gun muzzle should go everywhere your eyes go.
In reality, the defensive shooter should check the area all the way around himself, 360 degrees. This, of course, is very difficult to do in a class on the average square range, because your gun muzzle would be covering other students and instructors. However, when working by yourself, even in dry-fire practice at home, it is an excellent idea to get into the habit of checking all around you, not just to your left and right.
Unfortunately, for many, the look-and-assess movements become routine and lose their meaning and intent. It just becomes a choreographed routine that one does at the end of a shooting string. It is also part and parcel to the fact that too many people look without seeing. We need to actually observe and evaluate what is going on around us. Sound familiar? Yeah! Condition Yellow. Don’t even start to tell me that you are always in Condition Yellow, because I will make reference to bovine fecal matter.
So, following that defensive shooting, we want to consciously check the area around us—completely around us—before we stand down and assume that the attack is over. Look and assess—it could save your life.