I’m sure I’m not the only one who see’s the tactical shooting videos with the fast head spin after completing a string of fire. It looks “high-speed” to someone just learning to shoot, but for those who get it, sometimes the tactical head spin can be a little too much.

What are you looking at?

After a string of fire, especially during a defensive shooting exercise, you may see some individuals pull the weapon into somewhat of a SUL position. Immediately after, some individuals do what I call a “tactical head spin,” snapping the head to one shoulder then quickly to the other shoulder before returning eyes and head to the front. In some videos, the head spin process takes less than a half a second. Before we break down the science behind this, I think it’s important to first understand the purpose of the after fire action.

From what I’ve learned throughout my career in the Army Special Operations community as an Army Ranger, situational awareness should be and is the utmost importance during and after a gunfight. With that, you also find yourself looking through somewhat of a straw. Tunnel vision. With no stress involved, the average person can see and interpret an image in just 13 milliseconds!  This was recently documented by MIT researchers back in 2014. 13 milliseconds is the time it takes the eye to see an image and for the brain to interpret. With that, part of the brain continues to process images for longer than 13 milliseconds to respond positively. All of this still does not factor in one very important thing, reaction speed. Sure, 13 milliseconds is fast, but your reaction time changes greatly depending on a plethora of factors.

There is no such thing as the human perception-reaction time. Time to respond varies greatly across different tasks and even within the same task under different conditions. It can range from .15 seconds to a few seconds. It is also highly variable. If you train to see how fast the process takes you to spin your head around, and there were something to be processed and to react to, you’re more than likely going to pass up on it.

The search and assess after a course of fire was something that we would do during training to teach us to always be aware of your surroundings. When performed correctly, this can also open up your situational awareness on the battlefield. While searching our surroundings after the string of fire, an instructor would sometimes hold up an object, flip you off, hold up a number, etc. After assessing our surroundings, the instructor would ask us, what did you see? The answer would often be…NOTHING! Therein lies the problem. During training, if we’re not training our brains at this critical moment to pick up on the small things after each engagement, we’re falling into the “range mentality”.

If you simply twist your head as fast as you physically can from one shoulder to another and don’t pick up on your surroundings, the movement serves no purpose at all.

The next time on the range, try more than just looking over your shoulder. Try picking up on new information.

(featured image courtesy of Trident Fitness Youtube Channel)