Foreman’s Forum – Do You See What You Are Looking At?

8-5-2016 12-32-21 PMAs a firearms instructor, I require my students to look to each side after firing two or three shots. In a training scenario, this solves two important problems. The first problem is tunnel vision. My goal is to break the shooter’s tunnel vision from being focused only on the threat. The second problem is “seeing” what they are looking at. By looking to each side, it causes the shooter to check around for other bad guys. They are also looking for innocent citizens who might be about to walk into the line of fire. The shooter must also watch for law enforcement who might be arriving at the scene.

Seeing, instead of just looking, has a lot to do with self-defense. “Seeing” what you are looking at may save your life in a threatening situation. When I was a training officer for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, I was constantly instructing my rookies to “watch the hands” when confronting a suspect. I told them, “It’s the hands that will kill you.” With rookie Law Enforcement Officers, it is a whole new lifestyle of constantly being aware and really seeing what they are looking at around them.

8-5-2016 12-32-50 PM

There was certain training drill I would do with a new deputy. When they were driving the patrol car, I would instruct them to stop on a side road about halfway down the block. Then I would tell him, “You need to get on the radio and call for help. We are being shot at and our car is disabled. The suspects are shooting from the pickup truck which just drove past us.” Does the new deputy know where we are? Does he know the name of the street or highway we are on? Did he see how many suspects were in the truck before they started shooting at us? What color and make was the truck? This is all very important information which must be transmitted to the dispatcher, if she is going to be able to send help.

This training scenario was a wakeup call for the new deputies. When I confronted them with such a dangerous scenario, as I described in my fictional situation, they suddenly realized the importance of “seeing what they were looking at.” When they turned down the side street, did they see the street sign and know the name of the street they were on? This training scenario was for the new deputy so he or she would always remember to “see” the street sign, not just “look” at it when they drove past. I often used a similar training drill when looking for a suspect hiding from us in a building that had been burglarized. We would use a vacant building or an old abandoned house. The rookie was required to search each room or office. I had “planted” a mannequin in one of the closets. The rookie would go room to room, yelling “clear.” He knew it was a training drill so he didn’t expect to discover “someone” hiding in a closet.

8-5-2016 12-32-57 PMI wouldn’t expect most civilians to go to the extremes I mentioned above. But as concealed carry citizens, or “sheep dogs,” we take on more responsibility than the average citizen, or the sheep.
I hope you never experience a self-defense situation. Before, during, and after a shooting, a person is going to have a very narrow focus on the threat which they just encountered. When doing shooting drills, you need to practice seeing more than just the target. As you lower your gun after shooting, stop and look for additional threats. As a self-defense firearms instructor, I train using shooting drills with the students. When they lower their gun to re-assess the threat, I will hold out a hand and they must tell me how many fingers I am holding up. I might even set an item down, such as my hat or ear muffs, eight or ten yards to one side. I will ask them to tell me what they saw. After training, I want my students to feel confident and be a responsible gun owner.
As a firearms instructor, I stand right at the student’s shoulder. I am constantly watching their aim, grip, and trigger finger. I must make sure the student is following all the gun safety rules. When I teach firearms classes, I have a huge responsibility.
I cannot afford to just look at my students, I must see them!

Paul Foreman is a retired Deputy Sheriff from Lee County, Florida. He is also an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor. For firearms training Paul can be reached through E-Mail at or his web site,
By: Paul Foreman