Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy


ImageHumans are visually oriented creatures. The majority of input on what’s going on around us is obtained through sight. We scan to discover and avoid potential problems, formulating a response prior to trouble. In a situation when we are forced to confront a threat, scanning is mandatory for a variety of reasons. And, just like other fighting skills, we must practice scanning otherwise under stress we will not do it.

Scanning is simply using your eyes to look around, visually checking the environment for important information. What you scan for depends on the situation. When driving you’re constantly scanning the road, using your mirrors to check sides and rear and watching other drivers. Scanning helps avoid being in a wreck. Scanning while walking through a parking lot allows you to spot potential trouble and initiate a response to avoid a confrontation. It also tells any bad guys out there you’re aware of your surroundings and won’t be an easy victim.

If forced to fight, scanning is a part of the response. After the primary threat is down or gone you begin scanning. The firearm stays pointing towards the last known threat or other area of concern. You twist the head so the eyes can scan for any additional threats; in over fifty percent of violent confrontations there are more than one threat. They won’t all be lined up in a nice row in front of you. While scanning you are ready to react to the initial threat or any other threats that appear.

You scan to locate family, friends, or partners and determine what you need to do concerning them. Are they ok or down and injured? You scan to identify cover to get between you and a downed threat or additional threats. If you’re behind cover you scan for better cover. In most situations, unless you’re an armed professional, you need to scan to discover what direction to tactically retreat to a safer area or an exit to escape through.

Scanning also breaks us out of the “tunnel vision” that occurs under stress. The instinctual response to danger is to visually laser focus in on the threat. It’s like holding a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels up to your eye and looking through it. To break this tunnel vision we need to look somewhere else and focus on another object at a different distance than the threat. Scanning also breaks you out of the mental lock we tend to get into during stressful situations.

Scanning, like any other technique, must be practiced. You can always choose not to scan, but if you don’t make it part of your standard response you won’t have it when you need it. When scanning you don’t look to see if everything is O.K. That attitude will cause you to miss something important. Scan like you know there is something out there to find.

God gave us excellent visual capabilities. Take advantage of this gift. Our vision allows us to make it through every day life safely, and during a violent confrontation scanning is an essential element of victory.

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Defensive Mindset, General Training | Leave a comment

Shoulder Pocket

ImageWhen it comes to long guns one of the most common issues we see is shooters not getting the stock of the weapon in the actual pocket of the shoulder. This creates several problems. If you’re firing something with serious recoil, especially shotguns, the stock will slam into the shoulder with enough force to bruise. The stock needs to be in the pocket for accuracy, creating a consistent platform and efficient recovery from recoil for follow up shots. Getting the stock located in the pocket is also crucial for efficiency. When you bring the muzzle up and obtain a cheek weld against the stock the sights should fall into alignment with your eyes, without having to reposition your head.

To find your pocket bring the right arm up, for right-hand shooters, so it’s angled ninety degrees to the body, bending the elbow so the hand is positioned where it would be if holding the grip of the gun. Take your support hand, holding the fingers straight, and find the high point on the front of the collarbone. Now slide the hand outboard, towards the shoulder, following the radius of the collarbone. Your hand will dip down, or inward, and keep sliding until you hit the deltoid muscle of the shoulder. This low spot is your pocket, and where the heel of the stock should be positioned.

How much of the stock you have in the pocket, or the height of the stock, depends on what type weapon you’re firing. The idea is that when you bring the muzzle onto target and obtain a cheek weld on the stock the sights should be aligned with your eyes. For guns with low sights, such as shotguns, the entire heel will be in the shoulder. The same position holds true for a bolt-action rifles, even those with optics higher than the barrel. Unless your stock is adjustable or has a raised comb you’ll have to add material to the stock, raising the comb of the stock so you can get a proper cheek weld. A cheek pad -Brownells # 851-200-500 – works well for this. In the field you can use duct tape and foam pipe insulation.

AR’s are completely different. Due to the rifle’s design and offset between the sights and barrel only about the bottom half of the stock’s heel should be in the shoulder. This allows you to hit a solid, consistent cheek weld and obtain a good sight picture without having to reposition your head and eyes. If you put the stock too low in your pocket you have to shove your head forward or tilt it sideways to obtain a sight picture. Neither one of these options are good.

The key, as always, is consistency, and consistency is the result of practice. Dry practice is best. You start in the low ready position, stock properly positioned in the pocket and muzzle depressed, visually focusing on the exact point you want to place the shot. You bring the muzzle up and obtain a solid cheek weld. The sights should now be in alignment with the eyes. Lower the muzzle down, and repeat, over and over, until it becomes natural.

March 7, 2013 Posted by | AR-15 | Leave a comment