Scan & Assess Post Engagement

#1
I'd like to get some opinions on the scan and assess after an engagement and/or other types of movements that Agencies or Teams may be training. I have mixed opinions on it, I definitely see the importance in certain situations, however I seem to be more and more hesitant in training an exact movement after every engagement in a training setting, i.e., overt 180 degree scan to the left and right after every rep. I can definitely see the benefit if I'm in a largely "unfriendly" atmosphere and I need to scan for threats sympathetic to a bad guy, however take that out of the equation and I see more of a potential and continued threat from the situation to my front which I just engaged. I don't necessarily like the idea of training a muscle memory that may not be beneficial in the majority of situations. FYI, I've been training this for quite some time and I'm just trying to think a little broader than my own AO or what I've been taught. How are you guys training this issue and what is the overall opinion of your Team/Agency? Thanks
 

ggammell

Regular Member
#2
Our agency has always pushed it. But is now making even more of an effort after seeing problems with officer awareness in large scale training scenarios (I.e. at the shopping mall where the cover points are already established and not controlled by the training cadre). Numerous officers were observed standing up into the line of fire of other officers because they were kneeing, etc and an another officer took a position behind.

Granted there are issues with the second officer, increased awareness on the part of the first officer could prevent a blue-on-blue incident. Reinforcing priority of fire principles is being taught right along side the scan.
 
#3
I think things like gun fighting are oversimplified. I am no expert on gun fighting, but something I see a lot are blanket statements about what you should do (scan, get off the X, tac reload) but with no context. I see some guys teaching a 360 degree turn, which in some situations is probably good, but I can think of a of a lot in domestic LE where the threat area is in front of you and some slow 360 degree turn is a bad idea. There is a pretty good podcast on gunfight cast 147 post engagement scan.
I have been more like you and as far as not training an exact scan and as long as people are looking around to be aware of what is around them and try to think. Thinking is the key. At least that's my opinion.


I'd like to get some opinions on the scan and assess after an engagement and/or other types of movements that Agencies or Teams may be training. I have mixed opinions on it, I definitely see the importance in certain situations, however I seem to be more and more hesitant in training an exact movement after every engagement in a training setting, i.e., overt 180 degree scan to the left and right after every rep. I can definitely see the benefit if I'm in a largely "unfriendly" atmosphere and I need to scan for threats sympathetic to a bad guy, however take that out of the equation and I see more of a potential and continued threat from the situation to my front which I just engaged. I don't necessarily like the idea of training a muscle memory that may not be beneficial in the majority of situations. FYI, I've been training this for quite some time and I'm just trying to think a little broader than my own AO or what I've been taught. How are you guys training this issue and what is the overall opinion of your Team/Agency? Thanks
 
#6
Thanks for the input. I don't necessarily disagree with the concept, actively searching your surroundings is always a great idea, I think I would like to see it trained a little different and be applied situationally rather than a segment of every drill. Maybe a little more conversation or explanation when teaching it down and making sure everyone is scanning smarter rather than left/right/holster.
 
#7
I agree that this topic is something rarely discussed yet preached by nearly every one I've met.
Along with the above comments, I have begun to also understand that the "check your surroundings" stage is also the time to check on your team mates (a visual glance usually suffices). Have they been incapacitated, are they reloading, fixing a malfunction, do they have dear in the headlights look and won't be able to support you going into the next room, have they been shot and not know it? We would all like to think that our buddy (if you are fortunate to have one in a gunfight) would let you know if something were wrong, but let's face it....auditory exclusion, shock, and a whole sleuth of other things can interrupt that cycle of communication.

Just my $.02
 

Russellmn

Newbie
Network Support I
#8
Little older post, sorry to drag it back up...

I don't like the idea of training it to "muscle memory" levels as that indicates doing it without thinking about it. Scan and assess should absolutely be something you're thinking about. It's situational for sure, if you've got others with you covering your rear, you probably don't need to scan so much as call out to them to make sure they're good. If you've got a wall to your rear, you don't need to look at it to know it's still there, etc...

If you're alone and the immediate threat is down, taking a look around is probably a smart move, but it's something you should think about before doing it.
 
#9
The biggest problem I see with how this is taught is that it's being taught as a split second motion. Boils down to: bang bang, pull gun in to retention/Sul/low ready/whatever, then holster. All done. If the idea is to make an effective assessment of the area, I would advise slowing the process down a bit. Make sure you are actually assessing, not just orienting your head in a particular direction.

Real world applications of this are tough to teach, since every situation will be different. You may be backed up against a wall, or retreating, or behind some form of cover. You may have people around you obstructing your view. If you've got friendlies nearby, you may want to pay extra attention to where they are and what their situation is (covered, down, moving, etc).

Generally speaking I think it's a good practice, but the nuances need to be addressed.
 
#10
I came across this a little while ago, and I consider it both highly amusing and highly topical:


Much of the snatch-scan stuff happens while standing still, and while this is excellent for the flat range (usually a massive range full of dudes standing in a line and popping shots into a backstop) I don't think it provides a good level of training without taking it to the next step. Scanning is an important part of extra awareness, however some real effort needs to be put into it as a skill to increase it's value and bring it above the level of being little more than a range theatric.

For reference, look at helmet cams of 3-gun shooters, these guys are looking where they're going to go next, not looking around behind their back, or snatching their gun in close. Unless you think the dude you just shot is going to run up on you, there's no reason to pull your gun in close.
 
#11
Yup, easy to get into a rote "look 45° left, look 45° right, holster" routine. Even on the square range, there's stuff to look at, so just tell everyone to do that:
  • Check the targets. See everyone else's hits, see if the range equipment is in apparent working order.
  • Check the line. Are your team mates all in a straight line (or whatever they should be), or do you need to shuffle forward or back? Does everyone seem okay with their current status, and is reloading happily, etc or is there a stoppage, etc?
These are similar to actual real world behaviors also: What's up with the bad guys, what's up with the good guys?

Some of these are easy to check on, also. If someone is out of position, or keeps doing their own thing instead of waiting for another classmate to get worked out, or doesn't seem to notice where the instructor is, or doesn't react to a target failure, etc. then they may not be doing their scan-and-assess. Same behavior 2-3 times in a row, and you call them on it.

I also like looking over the shoulder. Even in real world I don't love the 360° turn as a standard answer (and on most ranges: eek) but seeing what is behind you for a moment is good pretty much all the time. You may need to back up, even if there's a threat in front, so re-orienting to the space behind is good. On the range, SOs and instructors are mostly behind you, and in some exercises the next squad or whoever is loading mags for you, so making sure you aren't missing some key info works, and again: it translates to real world just fine.