Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Searching and Scanning

By definition searching and scanning are two separate skills, with distinctly different applications. To employ these techniques correctly, and at the proper time, we need to understand the theory behind both skills. And, just like other fighting skills, we need to practice each technique properly.

Searching is used to locate potential threats. During searching your body changes position as required, keeping your eyes, body and weapon indexed in the same direction. This positioning allows you to react to a threat in the shortest time necessary. Take clearing a corner as an example. You need to see everything from that corner and beyond, so your weapon, hands and arms must be low enough so they don’t block you from seeing something important. Your eyes, sights, and muzzle should be the first things that come around the corner. During a search you are prepared to fight, your firearm is an extension of the body, and your position requires minimal motion to get hits on target.

Scanning involves only the eyes and head. For instance I have a primary area of concern, such as a downed threat, so my body and weapon are indexed in that direction, in a position of readiness. From behind cover I scan, performing a visual check of my surroundings. I’m not looking to see if everything is O.K, I’m looking for anything that might indicate trouble. I’m also looking for better cover, an escape route, or where my next move will be. All this time I’m ready to react to my initial threat if necessary, without having to reposition my body or weapon.

The golden rule for searching: Don’t do it unless it’s necessary. Anytime you go looking for trouble you may find it. A homeowner shouldn’t put their life in jeopardy over a big-screen television. But if there’s a family member at the other end of the house with a bad man between you, then you may not have an option. Armed professionals are required to search for threats, but it should be done smartly, and with assistance whenever possible. And remember, wherever there is one threat you should be scanning for additional dangers.

Searching and scanning properly under stress requires training and practice in advance. During drills don’t let these skills devolve into some kind of range kata you perform, simply going through the motions without any thought behind them. You search because of potential danger. You can’t afford to miss anything. You scan because you can’t possibly search in every direction at once. In the real world we know trouble can come from any angle, so we’re constantly flowing between searching and scanning as dictated by the situation. Pay attention to your other senses. The sound of an opening car door could be important. Don’t ignore your ‘sixth’ sense; this has kept a lot of people out of trouble. Stay mentally focused and pay attention to everything. The key is to identify small problems before they develop into big trouble.


September 19, 2010 - Posted by | Defensive Mindset, General Training

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