Sucked Down the Tube: A Failure in Training

Much, if not all training and practice is conducted on flat ranges under calm conditions with no surprises. We shoot steel and paper that we purposely place and identify. We have lanes and all sorts of safety considerations that make a day at the range a pleasant experience.  This is fine for most of us but can lead to some critical failures if you are in a line of work that may not look the same as the flat range.  For those that form either the thin Blue or Green Lines targets will probably appear in from unknown positions and ranges. Many people preach situational awareness but fail to account for it in our training. COL Boyd gave us the OODA loop, which on the surface, is a rapidly trainable flow of Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. It is a loop because as soon as you act you start over.


To hit a target, you must first observe it. You could possibly be an intergalactic grand sensei with Generation Next hardware and you will still miss a target you didn’t see. With the proliferation of magnified optics, the tendency of getting sucked down the tube is becoming more prolific as well. I recently watched shooter after shooter miss a very achievable target over and over…..and over……. And over again because of this effect.

What I mean by getting sucked down the tube is simple. With Quality glass and possible targets at some distance you tend to choose that field of view(FOV) vs the MK 1 MOD 0 eyeball. On the flat range, you are rewarded for maintaining a Stockweld and staying locked down the tube while maintaining perfect sight alignment. Though, doing this makes you lose situational awareness. Typing this, it almost seems unfathomable that it would happen. But it does. While in the tube a couple hundred yards away, we don’t know what’s happening closer. Team members could be moving, targets appearing, or worse, non-hostile’s might be moving into the line of fire. There is no good that comes from it.

For many, knowledge of the FOV of their optic is not something of importance. There is much talk of eye box, eye relief, and adjustments but people don’t know how much or how little really, they can see at various distances under magnification. For my MK6, the FOV is 105 feet at 1x at 100 yards. Compare that to 19 feet at 6x. The Razor on the other hand has 115 and 20 respectively. This means at 6x we are seeing roughly 20 feet of the situation at a short 100 yards with one eye closed.

 Cool story, bro. How do I fix it?

First fix is to use the lowest magnification needed for the shot or situation. This is one of the benefits of the LVPO. I can choose without loss of zero. If you are running a fixed power, you must apply the next two techniques. Throw levers are nearly mandatory add on for a variable that you are going to apply in a duty role. Simply watch some of the high-level competitors who are using variables for some good techniques on when and how to change power. Steve Fisher once said in passing that anything below 75yards should be on 1x. It is much easier to apply the next fix in lower magnification

Fix 2. Shoot with both eyes open.

This could possibly be fix 1 and is the greater fix. Having both eyes open allows for detection of movement and keeps you out of the tube, regardless of magnification. I know, it’s hard to learn. But it is vital skill for work. It can be learned in dry fire and doesn’t cost you a penny to learn. Your brain and eyes are highly adaptive and since we are an apex predator it doesn’t take long. With enough skills and reps, you will be surprised at what you detect during shooting activities. My last range session on my Sig, the lighting was perfect and I could call shots by which eye saw the muzzle flash. If I saw it with the left, the shot was out of the black on the B8. If the sights were silhouetted by the flash it was in the black. With practice your brain will switch from 1x to magnified faster than any mechanical switch ever devised. For more on this, Trijicon has an outstanding video that explains it better than any words I can type

Fix 3. Break the stock weld

This also requires dry fire and practice (Seeing a trend?) By breaking the mount, even if slightly, you can observe with both eyes and then remount the rifle when the time comes to move on to the next step in OODA which is orient. This is highly trainable and is realistic. Looking at it, there are very few situations where the majority will be trying to burn through things behind the glass for an extended amount of time.

 By applying all three fixes you will end up maintaining awareness, can detect targets and put effective rounds on target. A simple drill to try is simple grouping on a larger and smaller target or 2 targets at different ranges. Mount the rifle, zoom in, shot, zoom out, switch targets, repeat. 10 rounds would give you a nice group on both. If it doesn’t, continue to practice until it does.

Lastly, if you are a leader responsible for people who carry guns for a living and don’t heed this, you are failing. The day this skill is needed for real is not the time to learn it. It needs to be engrained long before that. Also as a direct fire mission to my Brothers in Arms if you have access to ranges that present targets such as pop ups and are training exclusively on paper you are failing and a liability. You are breeding habits that are not broken in one range session.

Enough reading, go practice.

Ash Hess


PS. This post was written over looking some beach somewhere

Hawaii Primary and Secpndary
Warrior Industries and Primary and Secondary World Tour.


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